A1 TEAM MALAYSIA HOPING FOR STRONGER PERFORMANCE
The fickleness of motor racing has been evident this weekend in the A1 Team Malaysia garage, with the team struggling to repeat the level of performance it has been showing this season at the start of the weekend. Their fortitude, however, paid dividends with a 13th place grid slot for tomorrow's Sprint race.
The team had been in the lower part of the timesheets during the practice sessions, which gave the engineers and Alex Yoong a tough challenge for qualifying. Running on used tyres for much of the sessions, the team concentrated on setup work, but still believed that they needed to find more speed for the afternoon sessions that would determine the grid.
Yoong's professionalism and experience came to the fore as he overcame the challenges presented by a car that was not as comfortable to drive as he would want. In these circumstances, skilful drivers have to draw on all their reserves to push to the limits and Yoong's talent helped to lift the team higher up the grid.
In the four flying lap segments of qualifying, Yoong had three new sets of tyres, and the team needed to put in two strong lap times, which would give him a good grid position when aggregated. A spin into the gravel in the second segment added to the pressures for the Malaysian team, but Yoong recovered to return to the pits for the team to check over the car. The team worked quickly and were able to have the car ready for the third flying lap run. With his fourth flying lap Yoong was able to improve his time further, to line up 13th on the grid.
He said after the qualifying session, "We started going the wrong way with our setups this weekend and it wasn't until qualifying that we made some changes in the right direction. We know now where we need to go and that's given me some confidence. When the racing is this close, and you're always trying to push the boundaries occasionally you get it wrong. We have a few more changes to make to get the car better, so hopefully we'll have two good races."
Jack Cunningham, Chief Executive, A1 Team Malaysia, praised the team saying, "Till late in qualifying we have had a poor weekend, but the whole team have pulled together this afternoon, and Alex has risen to the challenge to wring as much as possible from a car that isn't set up optimally. It will be a real challenge to get points in the Sprint race tomorrow, but there's certainly an opportunity to add another strong points finish in the Feature race. We know what we need to do now.
Overall we have not given Alex or Fairuz a good car so far this weekend but the team know that and will be doing everything we can to make progress throughout raceday. Alex likes this circuit and providing we make some more changes overnight that further improve the car, we will be OK tomorrow. That's the hope now anyway."
The A1GP World Cup of Motorsport event in Sentul, Indonesia culminates tomorrow with the 20 minutes Sprint race in the morning and the 70 minutes Feature race later in the afternoon. The event will include a colourful opening ceremony and the traditional A1GP driver's parade with each of the team's drivers riding in rickshaws and parachutists landing on track trailing the flag of each nation.