Germany Wins as China Takes Home Race Podium
Pole sitter A1 Team Germany's Michael Ammermuller raced to his first A1GP victory in this morning's inaugural Zhuhai Sprint race at round four of the 2007/08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport season while China's CongFu Cheng put in an incredible performance on home soil, taking a fantastic home race podium.
German rookie Ammermuller dominated the race from lights to flag, holding off Neel Jani to cross the line just over half a second ahead of title leader Switzerland who finished second. The packed grandstand roared when home nation China's CongFu Cheng made a sensational move past Ireland's Adam Carroll on lap 10 to grab third place. The 23-year-old from Beijing went on to take the first podium finish of his career and China's first of the season.
Czech Republic, Great Britain and India finished fifth, sixth and seventh while France and the Netherlands crossed the line in eighth and ninth place respectively.
Canada's Robert Wickens made a brave move past Jonny Reid on lap four to snatch 10th position from New Zealand. The pair continued to battle and in the closing minutes of the 13 lap race, Reid collided with the Canadian racer to take back the final points paying position.
Five of the 22 cars on the grid were involved in a first lap collision, Australia, Brazil and South Africa tangling at turn four and Lebanon running off into the gravel, bringing out the safety car for three laps. Malaysia was forced out of the action due to a puncture sustained from running over debris caused by the incident.
All 22 nations are now preparing for the main event of the weekend at Zhuhai, a thrilling and unpredictable 70 minute Feature race, which starts at 15:00 this afternoon.
Germany's Michael Ammermuller was pleased with his first win and happy to put the challenges he experienced in Malaysia behind him:
'It was a very nice race. We did a good job yesterday in qualifying and we had a good start today. The car was very good and I didn't make any mistakes. The last race in Sepang wasn't so nice but this time the start was a lot better and I'm happy. This afternoon will be more difficult as I'm starting from fifth position but it's a longer race and lots can happen.'
Switerland's Neel Jani, who finished second in the Sprint race and is on pole for this afternoon's Feature race, said:
'My start wasn't too bad, I got very close to Michael but he defended well and I couldn't really get past him without taking any risks. In the end I just settled for second and picked up some good points, plus I got the extra point for the fastest lap. We're on pole position this afternoon which is a good starting point but we will struggle with brakes towards the end of the race, as everybody will, so it's a just a question of who gets through the race with the least amount of problems.'
China's CongFu Cheng was delighted with his first podium finish and overwhelmed by all the support from his home fans:
'It was a great race and I want to say thanks to the crowd and to A1 Team China. It feels fantastic to deliver the first podium of the season for myself and for the team. The crowd was great and big thanks to the team, I'm speechless.'
Fastest lap: A1 Team Switzerland's Neel Jani set the fastest lap (1m24.418s) of the Sprint race on lap 11.