Taupo: Series preview

A1GP makes switch to Greener Racing A1GP World Cup of Motorsport will make history next weekend (18 -- 20 January) as all 22 national teams competing in the A1GP Taupo, New Zealand take to the track with biofuel in their tanks. The landmark...

A1GP makes switch to Greener Racing

A1GP World Cup of Motorsport will make history next weekend (18 -- 20 January) as all 22 national teams competing in the A1GP Taupo, New Zealand take to the track with biofuel in their tanks. The landmark event will make A1GP the first truly global motorsport series to race on a 30 per cent biofuel mix.

The cornerstone of an ambitious series of initiatives to help reduce its environmental footprint, A1GP's new fuel, an ethanol based product Hiperflo TM E30, is sourced from sugar beet in Europe and produced specifically for A1GP. Developed in partnership with Zytek, the series' engine manufacturer, the fuel produces less harmful particulate matter than conventional fuels and will reduce CO2 emissions by 21 per cent per car based on a wheel to wheel calculation.

The introduction of E30 was delayed from the start of the season to ensure vehicle performance wasn't affected by the change, but A1GP CEO Pete da Silva says the short wait has only made the switch more exciting.

'Through our THINK Greener Racing initiative we're committed to leading a revolution that helps the planet and safeguards the future of our sport,' da Silva said. 'The number one priority is to produce a cutting edge series, but we firmly believe we can deliver exciting racing while minimising the impact of our operations on the environment.'

Circuit changes offer new challenge to A1GP drivers

A1GP's inaugural meeting in Taupo last January was widely touted as a huge success, but some of the drivers found it tough to overtake around the 3.5 km layout. In a bid to make this season's event even better, encouraging more overtaking, one of the last corners on the circuit has been tightened up to create an extra opportunity for passing.

Last season, Turn 10 was a smooth, flowing, fourth gear corner taken at roughly 190 km/h. However, work has been carried out to transform it into a sharp 90 degree left-hander, which will be taken much slower by the A1GP cars. Significantly, the change has been made directly in front of the main grandstands seating 8,500 people, so the drivers will be fighting for position in front of 85 per cent of the seated audience.

New rookie for home nation

After a busy winter break wakeboarding, cray fishing and racing jumbo jets, home nation A1 Team New Zealand's lead driver Jonny Reid is keen to get back on track and will be aiming for a repeat of last year's double podium finish in the Sprint and Feature races in front of his home crowd.

'It sounds cheesy, but it's such a buzz to drive for your country,' Reid said. 'Having the nation behind you is such an amazing feeling. Last year I got quite frustrated being so successfully defended by France. It is a very technical circuit and last season it was so new that if you slipped off line it was hard to get back on that groove. You had to be so accurate. That same precision will be needed this year, but I'm sure you'll see much more action. The track is more mature and it definitely provides more opportunities to have a crack. Courage will be rewarded, but mistakes will be punished.'

Reid will be supported by rookie driver 18-year-old Brendon Hartley from Palmerston North, who is now based in Austria as part of the Red Bull Junior Race Team. New Zealand is currently third in the championship, 20 points behind series leader Switzerland but just one point behind second placed France.

A1 Team Australia reshuffle: Ahead of its home race in Sydney next month, A1 Team Australia has confirmed that John Martin will race for the remainder of the 2007/08 season. The 23-year-old from Rockhampton, Northern Queensland, who has been the team's rookie so far this season, will replace Ian Dyk. Australia currently lies 17th in the championship standings, having only scored two points this season, with ninth place in Sepang's Feature race.

Fresh talent for championship leader: Twenty-year-old Tom Dillmann will take on the role of rookie driver for championship leader A1 Team Switzerland at Taupo and Sydney, making him the team's fourth different rookie so far this season. Switzerland currently holds a 19-point lead over France in the 2007/08 title race and Neel Jani will continue as the team's main driver for the next two events.

Pre-event PR activity: The pre-event PR activity for the Taupo race weekend will take place on Thursday (17 January) morning on Lake Taupo. The drivers will take part in a Lakeside Fishing Challenge on board two large boats with invited media and the Mayor of Taupo. Drivers from the following nations will be taking part in the event: New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, India, South Africa, Canada, Great Britain, Malaysia, Mexico, Lebanon.

About Taupo circuit: The magnificent Lake Taupo provides the backdrop for one of the most picturesque races of the season. Racing in front of the Taupo Volcano, A1GP visited New Zealand for the first time in 2007 in a hugely popular meeting. A1GP became the largest international racing series to visit Taupo in January 2007, on what was essentially a brand new 3.5 km (2.17 mile) circuit. New facilities and a pit complex were also built to provide a spectacular road course for A1GP World Cup of Motorsport.

The new Taupo Racetrack complex, built by MIT Development Ltd, took over the original site used for the existing Taupo Car Club. The old 1.4 km circuit underwent an upgrading and lengthening, to create the new international circuit. The complex now also includes a motorsport business park and driver training centre. In addition, recent developments to the race control and pit lane building include a row of second-floor corporate suites above the pit lane.

The track includes three alternative configurations, with two separate pit areas and start/finish lanes, to allow simultaneous use of two tracks. The international circuit, used for A1GP, features an 830 metre straight, which also doubles as a drag strip.

Track length: 3.5 km (2.17 miles)

Lap record: 1m14.742s, recorded by Nico Hulkenberg, A1 Team Germany, January 2007

The A1GP Taupo, New Zealand event runs from 18-20 January, starting with the rookie driver and developing nations' sessions on Friday from 11.00 to 11.25 and again from 11.35 to 12.00. All 22 teams can take part in the later practice session from 14.00 to 15.00. Final practice and qualifying for the Sprint and Feature race will take place on Saturday with the two races scheduled to run on Sunday at 11.00 and 15.00 respectively.

-credit: a1gp.com

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About this article
Series A1GP
Drivers Neel Jani , Tom Dillmann , Brendon Hartley , Jonny Reid , Nico Hulkenberg , Ian Dyk , John Martin