On the other side of the globe
This weekend, the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport gets under way again on the Taupo circuit in New Zealand, which hosts the fourth round of the 2008-09 championship. It will be A1GP's third visit to the circuit.
Only four teams have been on the rostrum in New Zealand: Germany, France, Canada and New Zealand itself. A1 Team France is tackling its latest challenge in an optimistic frame of mind, as Loic Duval has finished in the first three in his four races on the Taupo layout.
The New Zealand event generally attracts a large crowd and the ambience will once again be red hot! The short 3.5-km circuit is fairly twisty so the drivers have no time to relax, and their physical condition is crucial if they want to achieve consistency. The secret of setting a quick time is to adopt the right rhythm when tackling the string of slow corners, so precision is vital. A small mistake and the whole rhythm is broken. Overtaking is possible at the end of the long 850- metre straight.
A1 Team France's score of 31 points puts it in third place overall, four behind Portugal and twelve behind the leader, Team Ireland. The aim is to close this gap and end the championship in first place.
Olivier Panis, sporting director: "Our objective this weekend is clear: we have to get back into second place overall. We're only four points behind Portugal and Loic's always been quick at Taupo. We've been consistent, fast and well organised since the start of the championship. If we maintain this rigour there's no reason why we can't fulfil our mission."
Loic Duval, driver: "I'm tackling this weekend's two races in a very confident state of mind. In my four outings on the Taupo circuit I've always been on the rostrum and the track suits me. The new A1GP single-seater suits my driving style; it's usually very much at home in quick corners, but we have to find the right compromise to get enough speed in the tight ones . We're ready to take up the challenge!"
Nicolas Prost, test driver: "The performances are so close this season that preparing for each event is absolutely crucial. Thus, we've given a lot of importance to preparing our Friday morning programme. Again I'll try and do my bit by running through the maximum number of set-ups possible."
AB Motors will show the Taupo qualifying session tomorrow at 14h00, and will televise the 1st race at 14h00 on Sunday. Race 2 will be shown at 15h00 on NT1.