NEW ZEALAND TAKE FIRST A1GP VICTORY IN SENTUL
Sentul - New Zealand has secured its first-ever A1GP World Cup of Motorsport victory with a dominant lights-to-flag drive from Jonny Reid in the Sprint race at the Sentul circuit, Indonesia. A1 Team Mexico's Salvador Duran put Reid under pressure in the closing laps of the race to finish a fighting second ahead of Great Britain's Robbie Kerr.
Reid led the field away from the grid and steadily extended his advantage over the 15-lap Sprint race until Duran's push over the last two laps closed the gap to just under a second. Reid was delighted to score New Zealand's first win in 31 A1GP races, "This is a very emotional feeling for me. The whole team has been working really, really hard and the result is fantastic as we came back from 16th in practice to the pole and now the win. I stayed focussed and I'm totally over the moon with what's happened. Now we've got to re-focus and get the job done this afternoon."
Duran put in a flying start to jump from fourth to second into the first corner, tucked right under the rear wing of Reid. "I got a good exit but then there was a bit of confusion. I opened up my line, thought I saw red, but then it was green. I was thinking about where I should brake and went straight on to push." Duran kept in touch with Reid over the race and pushed hard to close in the final five laps, but Reid held his nerve to score his first A1GP victory. Duran's second position was the Mexican's fourth podium of the year. "I thought we could match Jonny's pace and we were competitive and, in my view, the team did an awesome job. I'm happy with this result and now looking forward to the next one."
Great Britain's Kerr got good traction away from the start but was unable to block Duran. Kerr then fell back into fourth as the USA's Phil Giebler took advantage of the melee to force his way into third. Undeterred, on the second lap Kerr slipstreamed past Giebler in Turn Two to regain his position. "Coming up to the lights at the start, Jonny just went and Salvador got the jump on me," said Kerr, "I was disappointed as Phil also got by but then put my head down to try and catch up with these guys but unfortunately we were not quite quick enough to do that. I think we could catch them in the Feature race though as we're starting on the right side of the grid to have a clean start. I've most probably had more podiums than anyone else, but it's that win I really want."
The biggest loser at the start however was Germany's Nico Hulkenberg, who dropped from third to fifth, under heavy attack from Australia's Ryan Briscoe in sixth. Briscoe saw his chance when Hulkenberg tried to regain fourth from Giebler and squeezed past. The Australian looked set to hold onto fifth until an attempted move on American Giebler allowed Hulkenberg an opportunity to force his way through.
Home team Indonesia enjoyed a race long battle with Malaysia and Netherlands for 12th position. On lap nine, Malaysia took the Dutch car for 12th, leaving the door open for Indonesian Ananda Mikola to gain position. Mikola seized the opening and forced his way into 13th, much to the delight of the packed grandstands.
Mikola put Malaysian Alex Yoong under heavy pressure and feinted to get past the following lap, but the Netherlands Jeroen Bleekemolen was determined to get back his lost position. The Dutchman capitalised on the Malaysian-Indonesian battle in front and, seeing a small gap, pushed through to relegate Mikola back to 14th.
Two of the three drivers starting their first-ever A1GP race finished, with South African Alan van der Merwe securing a credible ninth after a race long battle with the winner of last year's Sentul race, Canadian Sean McIntosh. The Czech Republic's newcomer Jarek Janis finished 16th following a hard fight with Brazil's Tuka Rocha, however China's rookie Ho-Pin Tung spun on lap 11 coming out of the fast Turn Two.
Jonny Reid will now start the 50-lap Feature race on pole position, with Mexico second and Great Britain third.