Robbie Kerr Q&A -- Brands Hatch History Maker London, England (May 04, 2007) -- Robbie Kerr helped steer A1 Team Great Britain into the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport history books last weekend in the 2006-07 season finale at the Brands Hatch...
Robbie Kerr Q&A -- Brands Hatch History Maker
London, England (May 04, 2007) -- Robbie Kerr helped steer A1 Team Great Britain into the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport history books last weekend in the 2006-07 season finale at the Brands Hatch Circuit, Kent.
The former British F3 Champion's pole position and Sprint race victory marked the first time in two seasons of A1GP competition that a nation has qualified at the head of the pack and taken victory on home soil -- Kerr denied a historic double race win having been narrowly beaten to the chequered in the Feature race by Germany's Nico Hulkenberg.
Having come agonizingly close to overhauling New Zealand for second place behind Germany in the A1GP Nations Standings, the difference a mere point in favour of the Kiwi team (93-92) following a thrilling season of racing, Great Britain placed third overall to match its accomplishment from the inaugural A1GP World Cup of Motorsport.
Sunday's action at Brands Hatch couldn't have been scripted better to provide the home fans with something to shout about, Great Britain setting the scene for them with a stunning last lap pole position the day before.
Robbie Kerr, who provided much of the weekend's action and excitement, took time out to reflect on what was a memorable weekend, if not THE most memorable weekend in the short history of A1GP.
Q: How much pressure did you feel under heading into Saturday's qualifying session at Brands Hatch given the team's front-running performance on the Friday?
Robbie Kerr: "Well we were confident before we headed to Brands Hatch that we could be up there and that was backed up after our performance as a team on the Friday with Oliver (Jarvis) going fastest in the Rookie-Only session and my fastest time in the first official practice session. It was a boost for the team as well as for all the fans that came along to support us!
"We knew qualifying wouldn't be easy, despite our pace, we just focused on keeping everything neat and tidy. Obviously my fourth and final run had a bit of drama on the out lap as I was pushing to keep the tyres warm. Thankfully I managed to keep everything together as I was determined to stick the car on pole for the home support."
Q: What exactly was going through your mind as you ran wide prior to your final qualifying run?
RK: "Well my first thought was 'This isn't good' but I concentrated on keeping calm, getting the car back on track, cleaning the tyres off then just going for it! To be honest the tyres weren't completely clean going into the start of the lap, which definitely hurt our final time, but I still felt comfortable with the car and I knew I could push. Considering what had just happened it was a pretty good qualifying lap but I was a little disappointed as I knew we could have gone even quicker. Despite that it was fantastic to score a home pole, the first team to achieve this in A1GP history!"
Q: Where does your A1GP pole at Brands Hatch rank in terms of your overall career?
RK: "It's definitely one of the best! There were so many people at Brands Hatch cheering the British team on, waving Union Jack's, wanting us to do well so to be able to give them something like that at the start of the weekend was brilliant."
Q: What's been the secret to A1 Team Great Britain's recent qualifying successes?
RK: "I don't think it's been any one thing, more like a combination of factors all coming together at the same time. We've had lots of little issues that have affected us this season, our gearbox problems in South Africa being a good example. We had to sit out a qualifying run there whereas otherwise I believe we would have been very strong in the session. I think the team has sorted all the niggles that were affecting us and the results have been there for all to see in Mexico, China and Great Britain!"
Q: Did you have time to soak up the atmosphere at Brands Hatch on Sunday morning as you sat on pole for the Sprint race?
RK: "I was just focused on the job at hand but you couldn't get away from the noise of the crowd. It was great to know that so many people were supporting you. I didn't take it on-board as pressure to win but I used it as support to spur me on. It definitely felt special to be on pole for the British round."
Q: You helped steer Great Britain to victory in the Sprint race, in doing so becoming the first team in A1GP history to win their home event -- what does that achievement mean to you?
RK: "It was a very proud moment for me although we should have done it at the very first A1GP race at Brands Hatch had it not been for the battery failure in the Feature back then. Obviously it was great to get back out there and make up for the disappointment of the previous home race. The crowd went nuts and it was a real privilege to be there on the podium with the national anthem playing knowing you'd taken a win on home soil."
Q: You subsequently captured pole for the Feature race but the German entry slipped by on the run to Paddock Hill Bend -- can you describe what happened?
RK: "It's always difficult being on pole at Brands Hatch for a standing start. You're immediately faced with racing uphill rather than enjoying the benefit of a little downhill run off the line which everyone else has. You have to make an absolutely perfect start and I actually thought my initial get-away was good. Suddenly the car bogged down as I hit the hill and that was it, Nico (Hulkenberg) got by and there was absolutely nothing I could do, it was a gutting moment. It was just one of those things though, we knew we had a quick car so we had to push for the whole race."
Q: Did you ever think you could get a run on Germany or pressure them into a mistake?
RK: "When Germany pitted we knew we could have a chance to take the lead and try and stretch our advantage in clean air but unfortunately the Brazilian car spun out so we pitted straight away as we knew a safety car period was likely. That really sabotaged our chances of going for the win as we could have edged out a gap on-track that would have seen us rejoin ahead of Germany after our pit stop.
"There's no doubt it would have been close and unfortunately with Brazil's spin we just didn't have the time on track to push for long enough. After that I just made sure I kept the pressure on Nico in the hope he'd make a mistake. I had one opportunity as we were coming up to pass Switzerland but a bump at Westfield cost me that chance as the back-end of the car went out as I was alongside. Nico was ragged in some places and I caught the dirt on a couple of occasions but I was just hoping for another shot to try and overtake."
Q: Sum up your thoughts on the Brands Hatch outing for yourself and the team?
RK: "Overall it wasn't a bad weekend of racing! It would have been great to finish off the season with a double win but apart from finishing second in the Feature it was a near perfect performance from the team. I think everyone on the team was over the moon with our pole on Saturday and Sunday morning's win, especially given we were back on home soil and giving the crowd something to cheer about. We're already looking ahead to next season now!"
Q: On that point, do you think A1 Team Great Britain can carry its recent momentum into the 2007-08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport?
RK: "We're definitely a nation on the up in A1GP so I see no reason why we can't push on and be successful straight out of the blocks next season. We've always had to fight some issues, whether it's sheer bad luck or something mechanical but we've shown over the last three rounds of this season that when everything's in place we're one of the teams to beat in A1GP. It's been fantastic to be at the head of the pack scoring wins regularly so I'm confident that Great Britain will be a title contender from the off next season."
The 2007-08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport starts with a return to Circuit Park Zandvoort, The Netherlands, Friday 28th -- Sunday 30th September 2007 -- www.a1gp.com
A1 Team Great Britain is partnered in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport by Visit London, VisitBritain, Quintessentially and Oakley.
-credit: team great britain