Shanghai -- A1 Team Malaysia's Alex Yoong converted his first pole position into the team's first race win after a dominant performance in the Sprint race at the A1 Grand Prix of Nations, Shanghai Circuit, China, taking his spot at the head of the...
Shanghai -- A1 Team Malaysia's Alex Yoong converted his first pole position into the team's first race win after a dominant performance in the Sprint race at the A1 Grand Prix of Nations, Shanghai Circuit, China, taking his spot at the head of the grid for the following Feature race.
Series leaders, France put pressure on from the start, trying everything possible to pass Great Britain and Malaysia ahead of them. >From the approach to turn one, Premat slipped the tricolour car between Malaysia and Britain trying to edge ahead through turns one and two but the grid leaders held their positions and France fell back to its third place starting position out of turn three. It was the start of an unusually bad race for the French who may have laid claim to the Series title but were still under attack from the rest of the field throughout the race.
As the field crossed the start/finish line into the second lap, Malaysia was building its lead on Great Britain, with Mexico shortly behind having overtaken France at the end of the first lap. Italy brought up the rear after an earlier spin and continued to battle with China whose second driver, Ma Qinghua defended well in front of his home crowd. A collision between Switzerland and Canada saw retirements from both, while A1 Team Austria at seventeenth across the line, completed the 100,000th race mile for the A1 engine, demonstrating its reliability having nearly completed the first season without a single engine failure.
While an incident between Lebanon and Austria saw both teams retire from the rear of the field, the major battles continued at the front. A1 Team Ireland's number two, Michael Devaney, racing for only the second time this season, used his last PowerBoost on the approach to turn one stealing fourth place from France on lap five.
Just one lap later and France was once again the victim of an overtaking move, this time by the Netherlands' Jos Verstappen, who also cleared a path for Indonesia to follow through. Determined to maintain his position, France's Alexandre Premat defended hard but the Czech Republic with Tomas Enge behind the wheel fought its way past a few laps later.
While France and the Czech Republic contested sixth place, Indonesia kept the pressure on the Netherlands ahead of them for fifth. Verstappen's vast race experience did not make the defence of his position an easy task and the dogged determination of Ananda Mikola eventually paid off. As technical problems brought an early end to the Dutch race, Indonesia was the first to head past before the orange car of Verstappen slowed on the track eventually pulling into the pits at the end of lap 11.
As the grid headed into lap 12, the battle focused on second and third place Great Britain and Mexico as Salvador Duran intensified the pressure on newcomer Darren Manning. Manning held his nerve to the flag, holding off double winner at the previous race in Laguna Seca to take second place with Salvador Duran less than a second behind.
Winning his first race in A1 Grand Prix, Malaysia's Alex Yoong said: 'The car was good, we knew the temperature was rising, and were worried about the condition of the tyres. Fortunately after the start I was able to conserve the tyres and still able to push at the end.
Commenting on the trend of drivers winning the Sprint and Feature races, Alex said 'I really like that trend! Hopefully I will be able to repeat it. But it will be very competitive in the main race. The pit stops will be crucial and it will be really important to look after the car.'
Finishing second in his first race in A1 Grand Prix, Darren Manning was pleased to secure A1 Team Great Britain's third place in the standings. 'This was obviously the main goal for the team, and it has been a great weekend. I think I have acclimatised myself now. I didn't have the pace of Alex in the race, but I managed to fend off France and the charging Salvador. I'm not really used to this two race thing! The second race will be more like I'm used to, a long race with strategy and pit stops, so I think past experience will help me.'
Salvador Duran battled hard to pass Darren Manning, right up to the last lap. 'It was really difficult to pass, we were managing to do similar times, but we had different set ups on the cars, so we were faster on different parts of the track. I did try really hard one time to get past, but when that didn't work, I knew I was done, as I had no more PowerBoosts left. Hopefully the next race will be different.'