Ireland on Top in Malaysia
Team Ireland takes win and leads World Cup of Motorsport
Dublin, 23rd Nov 2008; A1 Team Ireland's Adam Carroll took victory and with it the championship lead in the Feature race at round three of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport in Sepang today.
Ireland became the first repeat winner in the current season and, combined with a strong fifth place finish in the earlier Sprint race and fastest lap in the Feature race, amassed a 20 point haul to move to the top of the series standings to lead Portugal by eight points.
It was a textbook performance throughout the weekend from the entire Ireland squad who produced impeccable pit stops in both races to complement the searing pace they had unlocked from the Powered by Ferrari machine.
Carroll led away from pole position in the 34 lap Feature race and, after a brief safety car period, soon set about making a break at the head of the field. As his rivals wilted in the intense humidity, Carroll found a rhythm that produced a clear lead by the time the pit road opened for the first of two compulsory stops. He emerged with his lead intact and was more than six seconds clear by the time of the second round of stops.
A sub ten second stop by the Irish crew combined with stunning in and out laps by Carroll meant that Ireland was more than ten seconds clear of Portugal within two laps and, with a fresh set of tyres on board, Carroll set about making it a perfect afternoon by securing the point for fastest lap.
Apart from the pit stop periods, Carroll was never headed as he built up a lead of just under 16 seconds by the chequered flag to record Ireland's second Feature race win in A1GP racing and their second race win of the season to go with the Sprint race success in China last time out.
Earlier in the day, Carroll had gained two spots from his grid position in the Sepang Sprint race aided by some trademark slick pit work which helped him vault Team Italy for a finishing position of fifth and four vital championship points.
Along with the 16 points for the Feature, Ireland now has an eight-point lead over Portugal in the title race as the teams head into the winter break. It was another weekend of consistent high performance and Team Principal Mark Gallagher was quick to pay tribute to his crew afterwards.
"To lead the championship at this stage going into the Christmas and New Year break is ideal," said Team Principal Mark Gallagher afterwards. "Clearly in the last two events we've established ourselves as the team to beat.
"Adam and the whole team are doing a magnificent job and it's taken some time to build this squad into a world beating team. The result is there for all to see - that we've shown everyone a clean pair of heels today and now our focus is on keeping up the consistency. There are seven rounds remaining and we can't win every race but we clearly have a very strong team and if we can keep a consistent approach and continue to get podiums and points finishes we have a good chance to win the World Cup of Motorsport."
Adam Carroll hailed his win in Sepang as the greatest of his career and reaffirmed his determination to help Ireland challenge for title honours: It was really good. That was exactly what I wanted to do this weekend. I was very happy to be on pole and I just concentrated on getting a good start and getting into the first corner with the lead.
"I've been lucky enough to win some great races but personally for me it's probably the best. I feel good now and I really want to go on and win the championship and show that not only can I win races but that I can be a champion. The balance was really good and I just pushed as hard as I could and ended up with a nice big gap. The guys did a fantastic job in the pits and that's what it takes. It's just really all coming together.
"I'm going to keep training hard on the winter break. It's a long hard season and I'm looking forward to racing in New Zealand in January. It's a going to be a long hard fight. The other guys are going to come back at us and hopefully we've got an answer for them."
Team Technical Director Gerry Hughes: "The overall target was to come away from Sepang leading the championship going into the break so that was good.
"It would have been nice to have been in the top three in the Sprint race but I suppose you can't ask for too much because some of our close rivals hit problems and being top of the championship table is a good start."
"We haven't changed the set up of the car much since Saturday morning and it's just been a case of giving the driver as much confidence as possible. This is my tenth time here after nine seasons of Formula One and I know how much the circuit changes and rubbers in over the course of the weekend. If we can keep our noses clean and keep scoring points that would be ideal. It's important to keep playing the long game, not to focus on short term gain but to focus on the long term.
Next Round: Taupo, New Zealand, January 23rd-25th, 2009