Taupo: Team USA Sunday notes

A1 TEAM USA's Summerton 7th in Sprint at Taupo TAUPO, New Zealand -- Jonathan Summerton finished seventh in the Sprint, a season-best for A1 TEAM USA in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, Sunday at Taupo, New Zealand. A1 TEAM USA took the ...

A1 TEAM USA's Summerton 7th in Sprint at Taupo

TAUPO, New Zealand -- Jonathan Summerton finished seventh in the Sprint, a season-best for A1 TEAM USA in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, Sunday at Taupo, New Zealand.

A1 TEAM USA took the checkered flag for a hard-fought eighth in the Feature, but was relegated to 14th several hours after the race when A1GP penalized the team 70 seconds for making a pit stop outside the mandatory pit window. The ruling cost A1 TEAM USA three points and six places.

"The 'We the People' car was very good in both the Sprint and the Feature," Summerton said, "and we were unfortunate to not finish higher and score more points. We can't lose sight that this was our most competitive weekend this season, but it's disappointing our eighth in the Feature didn't stand up. It would have put us on the top 10 in both races for the first time this season.

"We scored four points, moved up a few places in the standings and led some laps. We're starting to build some momentum and we have five rounds to go."

The 19-year-old from Kissimmee, Fla., started sixth for the 20-minute Sprint, which became a 14-lap race on the 2.17-mile circuit.

"I was pushed wide in Turn 1 by the Netherlands (driven by Jeroen Bleekemolen) and lost a position," Summerton said. "I had a good battle with Robbie Kerr (Great Britain) in the middle of the race. We were side-by- side in a corner and we touched. He went off the track and I kept going. From there, it was follow the leader for the remaining laps."

Summerton started 10th in the 70-minute Feature, which translated into a 50- lap race and had two mandatory pit stops.

"I had a great start and gained two places," Summerton said. "But I was run into in the back and the left-rear tire was slashed in the first corner. We had to pit to replace it (on lap five) and it put us at the back. It helped that the safety car had come out at the same time for another incident, but we still had a lot of cars to pass.

"When the first pit window opened on lap nine, cars started going in. The 'We the People' car was very fast on worn tires and we stayed out. We took the lead on lap 12 and with clean air in front, we ran some of the fastest laps of the race. We led through lap 15 and pitted on 16, what we thought was the final lap of the pit window."

Summerton emerged in 10th and ran in that position through the second round of pit stops. He passed two cars in the final stint to finish eighth.

"The track was physical, but I was able to race hard and it was fun," Summerton said. "It always is when you have a fast car. The team's adjustments to the car between the Sprint and Feature improved it."

A1GP stewards ruled that although A1 TEAM USA pitted before the completion of its 16th lap, the lap was completed from the pit lane and in violation of the regulation.

"We have had many people look at the rule that took away our points and all say the rule is unclear, at best," A1 TEAM USA owner Rick Weidinger said. "It's a shame A1GP has not taken the time to clarify it."

This is the regulation from the A1GP rulebook: 219. At any time after the completion, on the Track, of lap 8 and before the completion, on the Track, of lap 16 during the Feature Race, each Car must make a first mandatory Pit Stop and change all four wheels and tyres to the satisfaction of the Stewards. In other words, each Competitor's Pit Stop window will start only once lap 8 has been fully completed by the Competitor's Car (i.e. it has crossed the finish line) and will end only after the Competitor's Car has fully completed lap 16, which means that the last opportunity for a Competitor to make its mandatory Pit Stop within the prescribed window will be before the Competitor's Car crosses the finish line on the Track at the end of lap 16. Any Pit Stop taking place before starting lap 9 or after completing lap 16 shall be ruled as falling outside the mandatory window. For the avoidance of doubt, the Pit Lane does not form part of the Track.

"We have great respect for the Stewards and full compliance is needed for the integrity of the series," Weidinger said. "The problem is in how the rule is written. It's ambiguous and could easily be changed to avoid confusion by saying, 'Pit stops must be completed during a window starting with lap nine and concluding with lap 15 inclusive.' "

Weidinger was encouraged by A1 TEAM USA's level of competitiveness at Taupo.

"Although we made a few driving errors during the races, overall we ran well and overcame an extra pit stop for the flat tire in the Feature. We deserved to have two top-10 finishes and losing those three points hurts.

"We had our best qualifying and our best two races of the season. We're definitely making progress to our goals of starting and finishing in the top-five on a regular basis. Look out Australia."

A1 TEAM USA is 15th in the 22-nation championship with six points and has scored points in the last three rounds.

The sixth round of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport is Feb. 1-3 at Eastern Creek in Sydney, Australia.

-credit: a1teamusatv.com

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About this article
Series A1GP
Drivers Robbie Kerr , Jonathan Summerton , Rick Weidinger