A1 Team Great Britain 2006-07 A1GP Season Review -- Part Two London, England (May 22, 2007) -- Following on from a thrilling start to the second season of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport in Holland, the Czech Republic and China, the battle...
A1 Team Great Britain 2006-07 A1GP Season Review -- Part Two
London, England (May 22, 2007) -- Following on from a thrilling start to the second season of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport in Holland, the Czech Republic and China, the battle for the 2006-07 title moved on to Malaysia and Indonesia to round off the 2006 portion of the schedule before heading down-under to New Zealand for the first event in 2007.
Round 4 -- Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia, Sunday 26th November 2006
Three brand new venues played host to the first three races of the 2006-07 season so November's trip to the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia proved to be a return to familiar territory, the series having first visited the Grand Prix circuit a year earlier in November 2005. Home favourite and former F1 racer Alex Yoong returned to the track a three-time A1GP winner but the popular Malaysian failed to trouble the leaders at Sepang.
The year before, Great Britain's Robbie Kerr clocked up a third place Sprint race finish before a disappointing Feature race retirement. November's second trip would again see the former British F3 Champion on the podium, this time claiming a second place Feature finish to emulate Oliver Jarvis' best finish for the team from the previous round in China. Kerr's fifth place Sprint race finish added to the team's points haul but importantly secured a decent grid slot for the 28-lap Feature event.
A delayed start, courtesy of a Malaysian monsoon, failed to deter Robbie from making an impact on the race and he quickly dispatched Yoong for fourth on the 3.44-mile track. A thrilling wheel-to-wheel fight with New Zealand's Jonny Reid followed before Kerr got the upper hand. Passing Sprint winner, Switzerland's Neel Jani for second, Kerr held on to take the chequered behind Germany's Hulkenberg.
GBR Driver Reflection, Robbie Kerr:
"Malaysia was a fantastic race weekend for us with our second place Feature finish. We knew we'd be quick there but unfortunately it didn't quite happen for us in qualifying. We made sure that we got a good Sprint race finish to set ourselves up well for the Feature race so we could make our performance really count. The adverse weather conditions certainly made life pretty exciting.
"The circuit began to dry a little towards the end of the Feature but only just! I had a good battle with Jonny Reid, it was hard but fair racing between the two of us and it wouldn't be the last time either. We'd raced in Malaysia in the previous season of A1GP so we knew a little of what to expect this time round. Ultimately the racing conditions were very different but it was exciting to be back and the on-track action was just as spectacular."
Round 5 -- Sentul International Circuit, Indonesia, Sunday 10th December 2006
As with the Malaysian round a couple of weeks earlier, Round 5's trip to the Sentul International Circuit in Indonesia was welcomed by many as it too represented a return to a track previously visited by the series. The 2.56-mile circuit, more used to hosting motorbike races than 550bhp single-seater race cars, first welcomed the A1GP field in February 2006 with a sell-out crowd all rooting for local hero Ananda Mikola in the A1 Team Indonesia entry.
For Great Britain that particularly event was a case of 'what might have been' after Robbie Kerr stormed to the team's first-ever A1GP pole position. While he had to settle for second in the Sprint, he made the most of his Feature race front-row start and had it not been for a bad pit-call he was in prime position to score the team's maiden victory. Instead he had to settle for a 10th place finish. Kerr would again be a contender in qualifying at Sentul and graced the Sprint race podium once more.
Having traded fastest lap times with France the day before, Kerr knew the British car would be quick in qualifying but the opposition this time round came in the form of New Zealand's Jonny Reid. The timesheets would record that the British racer was pipped to pole by a mere three hundredths of a second. While he lost a spot to Mexico's Salvador Duran in the Sprint race, Kerr recorded back-to-back podium finishes for Great Britain with third at the chequered.
A traditional downpour delayed the start but Robbie wasted little time in passing Duran to take second in the Feature. Having fought France and America for third, another pit-stop, this time for slicks, dropped Kerr to fourth but his hopes of a return to podium contention were dashed as a spin and a stall brought to an end Great Britain's valiant charge in Indonesia and an impressive run of Feature race points scoring finishes.
GBR Driver Reflection, Robbie Kerr:
"I had a really tight fight for pole with Jonny Reid in the Kiwi car. It came down to a few hundredths of a second in the end and we had to settle for P2 which wasn't a bad result but unfortunately we lost out at the start of the Sprint race. I dropped out of the top-three but managed to get back to third for a good solid Sprint finish although we didn't quite have the race pace that we wanted.
"As in Malaysia we had the excitement of a downpour for the Feature race. I was hitting puddles left, right and centre on-track! I was running fourth when I had an uncharacteristic spin which put us out of the race unfortunately. I was naturally disappointed as it had been a hard race as I didn't have any PowerBoost so to be running fourth at the time was actually pretty good."
Round 6 -- Taupo Motorsports Park, New Zealand, Sunday 21st January 2007
A1GP kicked off the New Year with a new event, New Zealand's Taupo Motorsports Park welcoming the field of nations and in particular its own 'Black Beauty' racer -- winner of both the Sprint and Feature races at the previous round in Indonesia courtesy of some slick racing from Jonny Reid. Expectations of a 'home' win were high, to-date no team ever having won on native soil. Reid gave it a good shot but came up just short bagging two third-place podiums before an enthusiastic crowd at the 2.17-mile Taupo facility.
Robbie Kerr remained in the British car with the team's rookie driver, Oliver Jarvis, unavailable at the time due to his test commitments in the 2007 All-Japan F3 Championship. While the team lost out on track time missing Friday's hour-long 'Rookie-Only' session, Kerr would go on to qualify sixth on the Saturday, declaring himself relatively satisfied with the pace found late in the session.
Sunday's races down-under would blight Great Britain's title-charge as a twin no-score combined with Germany's double victory saw the team drop to fourth in the Nations Standings. Contact at the start of the Sprint race's second attempted start cost Kerr his front-wing, the spirited Brit holding on to take eighth, before a battery failure robbed him of a top-six Feature finish just ten laps from the finish.
GBR Driver Reflection, Robbie Kerr:
"Put simply a weekend of disappointment! We had reasonable speed starting the weekend and a last minute push in qualifying got us into the top-six for the Sprint race. There was a false start to the Sprint and I ended up getting clattered into the first corner second time around, losing my front-wing in the process. Remarkably, despite not having any front-end down force I only lost two positions and held on to take eight.
"We knew we had a solid points scoring opportunity in the Feature race and the speed to achieve it. I was stuck behind the Dutch car for almost the majority of the race having quickly moved up into the top-six. The gap between second to sixth was then only something like three seconds so it was fairly tight at the front. Unfortunately the car's battery packed up with 10 laps remaining and we were forced to retire once again. It certainly put us on the back foot at the half-way point of the season but we knew we could turn things around!"