A1 South Africa Paul Ricard test preview

SA TEAM MAKES FINAL PREPARATIONS FOR INAUGURAL A1 GRAND PRIX 'WORLD CUP OF MOTORSPORT' The countdown is underway to the opening race of the brand new A1 Grand Prix series, which will take place at Brands Hatch in England on September 25. The...

SA TEAM MAKES FINAL PREPARATIONS FOR INAUGURAL A1 GRAND PRIX 'WORLD CUP OF MOTORSPORT'

The countdown is underway to the opening race of the brand new A1 Grand Prix series, which will take place at Brands Hatch in England on September 25. The final test session is scheduled for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at the Paul Ricard circuit in France and South Africa will be among the 21 national teams making final preparations for the start of the series.

The brainchild of Sheikh Maktoum Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoum of the Dubai royal family, A1 Grand Prix is also known as the World Cup of Motorsport and is the world's first motor racing competition created with the intention of involving and representing up to 80 per cent of the world's population.

Sheik Maktoum's vision is for a world series between competing nations which offers a global audience of billions the opportunity to show their passion for their countries and support their nation's team in this unique motor sport competition.

Prominent local businessman Tokyo Sexwale owns the South African team franchise and the two drivers who will be putting the team's Lola-chassied 3,4-litre V8 Zytek-engined car through its paces in France are former national Formula Ford champion Stephen Simpson and South African Indy Racing star Tomas Scheckter.

All the cars in the FIA-approved A1GP series have identical chassis and engines. The chassis is manufactured by Lola Cars in England and power comes from a 3,4-litre V8 all-aluminium engine specially designed and manufactured for A1GP by Zytek Engineering.

"We're all very excited about South Africa's participation in this unique new motor racing series," says Ms Dana Cooper, CEO of A1 Grand Prix Team South Africa.

"We really hope the country will get behind this first World Cup of Motorsport and follow the fortunes of our South African team."

Sporting and technical manager Mike Carroll, who was manager of Opel's successful team that contested the SA touring car championship in the 1990s, is confident that the South African A1GP team will acquit itself well in the new series.

"Our Spanish-based technical team, BCN, who finished second in the 2004 FIA Formula 3000 championship, have done a great job preparing the car and we have the services of two fine young drivers in Stephen and Tomas for this week's final test session," says Carroll.

Carroll added that the team had until the first day of practice for the opening round in England to name their drivers for the day's two races. Teams may have as many as three drivers at a race meeting and may nominate different drivers for the day's two races.

"(SA-born former British Formula 3 champion) Alan van der Merwe has also tested our car and we will be making our choice from these three drivers for the opening race meeting," he says.

-a1sa-

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Series A1GP
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Alan van der Merwe , Stephen Simpson , Sheikh Maktoum , Mike Carrol