Ireland Aiming to Stay on Top in New Zealand Monday, Â January Â 19th, Â 2009; Â Â Championship leader A1 Team Ireland heads to Taupo, New Zealand for the first race of the new year in the A1 World Cup of Motorsport following the extended mid...
Ireland Aiming to Stay on Top in New Zealand
Monday, January 19th, 2009; Championship leader A1 Team Ireland heads to Taupo, New Zealand for the first race of the new year in the A1 World Cup of Motorsport following the extended mid season break. Ireland carry an eight-point lead into the coming weekend of action and having enjoyed the status of points leader during the holiday recess, the squad is eager to get back into the fray in the fourth event of the season.
Lead driver Adam Carroll says that the two-month break since his victory in Sepang, Malaysia has given him the opportunity to work closely with team to plan its campaign further. He is now fully charged and raring to go for the second part of the season.
"I can't wait to get back into it" says the 26 year old from Portadown. "I didn't mind the break at the start but now we're all just chomping at the bit. It's hard to get in as much training as you'd like over Christmas - it was nice to get home but now it's time to get stuck in and go racing again".
Carroll scored a fifth in the Feature race and a sixth in the Sprint race for Ireland at Taupo last year and clearly enjoys the busy and challenging 3.5km lakeside circuit on New Zealand's North Island.
"Taupo is a good circuit. You can pretty much see the whole track so it's a very good spectator circuit and it's quite tight and twisty so it will make overtaking hard work. There are a couple of places at the end of the back straight and, I suppose if you're brave, into turn one. The race last year was good and I enjoyed being there. The new car should be good to drive in New Zealand.
"Qualifying is so important, like everywhere, to make sure you start at the front and especially so at Taupo which is a tight circuit. It can be quite difficult in midfield to get through the first couple of corners".
To that end the organisers have decided that the Sprint race will start with a standing start rather than the traditional rolling start and for all at A1 Team Ireland the focus is on scoring strongly to maintain their challenge at the head of the series.
"Everyone is highly motivated after the break and the main thing, as always, is that we focus on producing another strong, consistent weekend," says Team Principal, Mark Gallagher.
"Adam likes this track and drove well in Taupo a year ago, but of course it will be a different proposition with the new car. What's important is that we keep working on the basics and to remain firmly focussed. Victory is our goal, racking up the podiums is the name of the game and we'll keep pushing to the maximum.
The response we have received at home in Ireland to us leading the series has been so positive and extensive - it's really given us a terrific mid season boost and we need to ensure that we continue to amass points through the weekend to maintain our lead and sustain our challenge for the title. The competition in A1GP is fierce, but I am confident that Adam, Niall and the technical staff can maintain our front running place".
The action gets under way on Friday morning when Niall Quinn takes the wheel of the Team Ireland car for Rookie practice, conducting set up work and preparation for the team.
Qualifying for Sunday's two races takes place on Saturday afternoon with the race action getting under way on Sunday morning with the Sprint race including one mandatory pit stop. The afternoon Feature race includes two mandatory visits to pit lane.
The timetable for the weekend's activities commences with Practice on Friday at 10.45am (9.45pm Thursday in Ireland) and qualifying on Saturday getting under way at 2.15pm (1.15am, Saturday Ireland). Sunday's race action begins with the Sprint race at 11am (10pm Saturday, Ireland) followed by the Feature race at 3pm (2am Sunday, Ireland).