A1 Team Malaysia will be hoping to race hard at the team's home event in Sepang this weekend. The A1GP World Cup of Motorsport third round of competition is being hosted by Malaysia and as the local team, Alex Yoong and his crew, are determined to...
A1 Team Malaysia will be hoping to race hard at the team's home event in Sepang this weekend. The A1GP World Cup of Motorsport third round of competition is being hosted by Malaysia and as the local team, Alex Yoong and his crew, are determined to bring home their first points finish of the season. The team had looked strong with 10th quickest lap in the morning, but a 19th place start for the Sprint race and 15th for the Feature race were less than the team expected for themselves, their sponsors and all the fans.
The morning practice session was the final chance for A1 Team Malaysia to try different setup options prior to the grid-setting qualifying session. Yoong worked with his engineers in order to review the performance of the car after each run and develop it to gain the maximum speed for the race. By the end of this, Yoong had posted 10th quickest lap and looked set for a strong qualifying session.
Prior to the session A1 Team Malaysia welcomed a very special guest, with Dr Sheikh Muszaphar, Malaysia's first astronaut, meeting the team and catching up with Yoong. Dr Sheikh Muszaphar is Malaysia's first astronaut selected from Malaysia's Angkasawan programme which is collaboration with the Russian space agency to send Malaysians into space. By profession he is an Orthopaedic surgeon with Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. His spacecraft took off from Baikonur Cosmodrome, South of Kazakhstan and he spent approximately ten days in space. Dr Sheikh Muszaphar safely landed on earth at 6.37pm Malaysian time on 21 October 2007.
Yoong said of Dr Muszaphar's visit, "I met Dr Muszaphar few years ago. He's a great guy and I've kept in touch with him since then, but obviously haven't seen him since he became an astronaut. He's the first one from our country and a great credit to the nation. There are very few people who have been into space, it was fascinating to hear about travelling at speeds a lot faster than we do!"
In afternoon qualifying Yoong posted a disappointing 19th quickest lap after the first two segments of qualifying, which gives him this position for the grid.
The second two segments, setting the grid for the Feature race, produced better results with 16th fastest lap after the first of the two laps and then the final lap producing 15th place finish, to line up in this slot for the main event of the weekend.
Yoong remarked, "This morning was a bit better, but to be honest we're a bit off the pace. 10th was an improvement, but the time difference was still too far off where we needed to be. This afternoon the car was the best it had been. Why are we so far back on the grid? I just don't know -- I'm happy with the car, the team, we're doing everything the right way as far as I'm concerned, so I just don't know. Right now, that answer needs someone smarter than me."
Jack Cunningham, Chief Executive, A1 Team Malaysia, added, "Of course we're disappointed that we haven't been able to reproduce our form. With the technical problems behind us we had expected a significantly better grid position for both races. Right now we are unsure as to why we are not on the pace - indeed we are well off it to a level that causes us concern. However we'll keep focused and try our hardest to make the improvements we need to regain our position as a leading team of the series. Everyone in our team has one goal, and that is to do the best for our nation. We value everyone's support for us and we hope that we can deliver a good performance tomorrow."
A1 Team Malaysia will return to the track tomorrow for the Sprint race at 11am and the Feature race at 3pm. An action-packed day of racing will include a colourful opening ceremony and drivers parade to be enjoyed by the thousands of local fans attending the event.