Switzerland Takes Superb Win and Edges Closer to Title Honours Shanghai, China -- A1 Team Switzerland's Neel Jani put in a perfect performance during this morning's Shanghai Sprint race, dominating the action from pole position to seize his...
Switzerland Takes Superb Win and Edges Closer to Title Honours
Shanghai, China -- A1 Team Switzerland's Neel Jani put in a perfect performance during this morning's Shanghai Sprint race, dominating the action from pole position to seize his fourth win of the season. Jani also set the fastest lap of the race to pick up maximum championship points and increase his nation's lead over second-placed New Zealand to 31 after they failed to score. The Swiss team now needs to increase its lead by just two more points to secure the 2007/08 title honours this afternoon, with one round of the championship remaining at Brands Hatch in Great Britain (4 May).
Canada's Robert Wickens, who is making his final A1GP appearance of the season this weekend, raced to an impressive second place to join the Swiss star on the podium, holding off Portuguese rookie Filipe Albuquerque, who was again on superb form to notch up his second podium finish at only his third A1GP event.
Once pole-sitter Switzerland's Jani had made it to the first corner he was never under threat and by the third lap the 24-year-old had pulled out a two second lead over Canada's Wickens and Portugal's Albuquerque. The Portuguese rookie started on the front row but made a mistake as Jani pulled away, allowing Wickens to sneak through from behind and take second. Albuquerque put pressure on the Canadian throughout the race but couldn't make it past and the pair went on to cross the line in second and third position, a massive 4.6 seconds behind race winner Jani.
Malaysia's Alex Yoong, who started seventh, shot up to fourth at the start and enjoyed a good, clean race to finish fourth ahead of India's Narain Karthikeyan in fifth. The Indian driver managed to hold off Germany's Michael Ammermuller, who crossed the line sixth and was closely followed by South Africa's Adrian Zaugg and Italy's Edoardo Piscopo in seventh and eighth place respectively.
Home nation China's Congfu Cheng got a superb start from 15th on the grid, making up five places to take 10th from Ireland's Adam Carroll, slotting in behind Great Britain's Robbie Kerr. Cheng pushed hard throughout the 10-lap race and excited the local fans when he looked like he was going to make a move past the GBR car with two laps to go. The Chinese driver went on to cross the line 10th behind GBR's Kerr and take the final championship point.
New Zealand's Jonny Reid and USA's Jonathan Summerton, who started alongside each other on the third row, clashed during the rolling start, forcing 'Black Beauty' into a spin and out of the action. Amazingly the rest of the field managed to avoid the incident. Summerton, who hurt his hand when the steering wheel kicked back, limped the USA car back to the pits and retired from the race. Both teams will now be working hard to repair the damage sustained to their cars before the start of the 70-minute Feature race, which starts at 15:00 this afternoon and includes two compulsory pit stops.
Sprint race winner Switzerland's Neel Jani reflected on his team's superb performance in the Sprint race and looked ahead to the possibility of sewing up the championship this afternoon:
'It is a great start to the day. I hope I can do it again in the second race and if we are lucky we can even get the Championship. I tried to quickly get some distance between me and the other guys behind me so I would have a calm race. I still had to push to try and get the quickest lap because Robert (Canada) had it once off me so I had to push again, and I had to fight a little bit with the car so we can still improve it and hopefully be even quicker. I hope Jonathan (USA) is ok and can come back for the second race.'
Canada's Robert Wickens, who finished second in this morning's Sprint race, is aiming for another podium finish this afternoon:
'I think being on the inside on the rolling start here is a big benefit because it's such a long corner. I got a good reaction time to when Neel decided to go and I had a little bit of luck when Portugal got on the limiter a little bit, so it think I lucked out ok and I was just happy to make it to the first corner. From there I just settled in and I attempted to keep up with the Switzerland car but we still have a lot of work to do to the Canadian car. I think we have a tough race ahead of us for the Feature but think it's possible to make it back on the podium.'
Portugal's Filipe Albuquerque, who secured his second podium finish at only his third A1GP event, said:
'I made a mistake at the start that cost me a lot. I fell back into fifth place and then had to fight with Karthikeyan (India). I was able to be third at least and then I was trying to push Robert (Canada) to get second but it's very hard to overtake here. He was getting the team instructions when I was using the push to pass, so I was not able to catch him on the straight. Third place is still good though and I'm pleased to be on the podium but just not as I wanted.'