Zandvoort: Team USA race report

A1 Team USA finishes second for A1GP Season Opener Bold Decision Earns Podium ZANDVOORT, The Netherlands--Phil Giebler made a daring decision pay off with a brilliant drive through wet conditions to finish second for A1 Team USA in the feature...

A1 Team USA finishes second for A1GP Season Opener
Bold Decision Earns Podium

ZANDVOORT, The Netherlands--Phil Giebler made a daring decision pay off with a brilliant drive through wet conditions to finish second for A1 Team USA in the feature race of the A1GP season opener Sunday at Circuit Park Zandvoort.

Giebler, of Oxnard, Calif., was running sixth when a thunderstorm hit the 2.6-mile, 11-turn road course on the 18th of 41 laps.

"When it really started coming down, I was tempted to come in to get wet- weather tires," Giebler said. "But it was a long race and I knew with the way it had gone the entire weekend, it was bound to dry out. My team gave me the option and I decided to stay out. I have to give it to my team for trusting me."

With the cars in front of him pitting for treaded rain tires, Giebler took the lead early on the 20th lap. He was sliding all over the track.

"I was lucky to stay on the track," Giebler said. "It felt like I was crawling out there, but the key was to keep it on the track and not push too hard. The conditions were horrendous."

Giebler went from the lead, with a 15.4 advantage over A1 Team France's Nicolas Lapierre, to second place 2.2 seconds back in three laps. But the track had started to dry.

"Once the track started to dry, I knew I could get the time back quickly," Giebler said.

Giebler dropped to sixth, 28.634 behind the leader. His patience was rewarded starting on the next lap, when he ran a nearly identical time to leader Jeroen Bleekemolen of A1 Team The Netherlands.

Giebler began circulating much faster, charging into the lead at the start of the 37th lap.

A1 Team Germany had made a perfectly timed stop for the dry-weather slicks, and Niko Hulkenberg, with fresher tires, passed Giebler on the 38th lap.

Giebler was 7.87 seconds behind Hulkenberg at the checkered flag. It was the highest finish for A1 Team USA in the series.

"I'm very proud to represent this country in this series," Giebler said. "A podium in the first race of the season is what we wanted to do."

"We're quite pleased," A1 Team USA owner Rick Weidinger said. "We knew we had a good car and a courageous driver and it all came together. Phil demonstrated an incredible amount of patience. This is a great start to a new season. We will enjoy this result this evening but tomorrow we will turn our focus to BRNO, Czech Republic on October 8, 2006.

The Circuit Park Zandvoort on the North Sea Coast of The Netherlands hosted the first race in the 2006/07 season from Sept. 29 to Oct. 1, 2006. Sunday's event attracted a sold-out crowd of 75,000.

-credit: team usa

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About this article
Series A1GP
Drivers Jeroen Bleekemolen , Nicolas Lapierre , Phil Giebler , Rick Weidinger