Feature retirement ends McIntosh's Malaysian charge Sepang, Malaysia (November 20, 2005) -- Sean McIntosh demonstrated both pace and potential in today's fifth round of the A1 Grand Prix of Nations in Malaysia but a retirement from sixth place...
Feature retirement ends McIntosh's Malaysian charge
Sepang, Malaysia (November 20, 2005) -- Sean McIntosh demonstrated both pace and potential in today's fifth round of the A1 Grand Prix of Nations in Malaysia but a retirement from sixth place in the Feature race ended Team Canada's front-running challenge at the Sepang International Circuit.
Sean's rise to the front of the field came as no surprise as the 20-year-old picked his way through the pack from 22nd to 15th in the 15-lap Sprint race. With the Sprint results determining the starting grid for the Feature race, Sean continued his blitz through the field as the second race started only to retire from sixth following contact with Team Italy in the closing stages.
Today marked the first time this season Team Canada have failed to collect points in either the Sprint or the Feature event, not a result the team expected given their pace-setting form in Malaysia.
Friday's practice sessions saw Sean comfortably running at the top end of the timesheets, setting the second fastest lap time in the second session and the fifth fastest on the day, the Formula Renault graduate keeping pace with drivers boasting Formula One and Indy Racing League experience.
Yesterday's qualifying sessions would prove to be the first of the weekend's challenges. Sitting 11th after the first of his four scheduled qualifying runs, Sean fell victim to the weather as a tropical downpour showered the 5.54km circuit. He slid off-track as he attempted a second flying lap on the semi-dry track before conditions deteriorated completely for the third and fourth qualifying attempts.
With a wet-track declared the grid order for the Sprint race was effectively sealed at the end of the second session with the nations fortunate enough to get out early taking the top spots with their aggregate dry times.
In contrast, a completely dry track greeted the A1 field as they formed this afternoon's Sprint grid but the heat and humidity remained an ever-present factor. Despite this Sean wasted no time in improving his position once the race began, the young Canadian picking off the slower back-markers on the opening laps. Moving up seven spots by the checkered flag, McIntosh set himself up for an attack on the top ten in the 30-lap Feature race.
Continuing to establish a reputation as a fast-starter, Sean rocketed off the line and found himself tenth at the end of the first lap of the Feature race. From there he worked his way through to eighth, engaging in a four-car fight with Italy, the USA and the Czech Republic, just 1.5 seconds covering the battling quartet.
With a clean pit-stop under his belt and a top-five finish in his sights, Sean was reveling in the pace of the Team Canada car as he lined up fifth-placed Enrico Toccacelo on lap 22. Running nose-to-tail with the Italian, Sean slipped out of the draft and hit the boost in an attempt to pass for position. Unfortunately for Sean, the move failed and he clipped the endplate of Team Italy's car, leading to a puncture and ultimately retirement with eight laps to go.
While Sean clearly demonstrated the speed of Team Canada's package this weekend, the team departs Malaysia empty handed and remains 11th overall in the Nations Standings on 20 points. Team France proved to be the dominant force once again, Alexandre Premat collecting both Sprint and Feature victories to take his personal win tally to four and France's to eight.
Looking at the positives from Malaysia Sean commented:
"The speed was in the car to come away from Sepang with a decent points haul. We fought back from a disappointing qualifying position to fight for a top-five finish in the Feature race but unfortunately I couldn't make the move stick on Team Italy. I feel bad for the team as they worked tremendously hard all weekend.
"We proved in practice and in the races that we had a very quick car and I really wanted to get a decent finish here to reward their efforts. Hopefully we can carry our momentum over to Dubai next month and be quick out of the box. If we can achieve that then we'll be back fighting for points at the front end of the grid."
The United Arab Emirates hosts Round 6 of the A1 Grand Prix of Nations at the Dubai Autodrome, Friday 9th -- Sunday 11th December.