22 Nations Gear Up for Title Decider at Brands Hatch Brands Hatch, Great Britain - As the remarkable third season of A1GP comes to an end, just two teams - Switzerland and New Zealand - are in contention for the prestigious title honours, as the...
22 Nations Gear Up for Title Decider at Brands Hatch
Brands Hatch, Great Britain - As the remarkable third season of A1GP comes to an end, just two teams - Switzerland and New Zealand - are in contention for the prestigious title honours, as the World Cup of Motorsport heads to the legendary Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit in Kent for the final round next weekend (2-4 May).
In fact, for the first time in A1GP history all 22 championship positions are still to be decided, with 32 points up for grabs at the season finale. Current title leader Switzerland, runner up in season one, just needs Neel Jani to finish seventh in one of the races - or secure a combination of results to score four points - to win the championship while New Zealand, runner up in season two and currently trailing the Swiss team by 29 points, needs Jonny Reid to win at least one of the races and hope that Switzerland fails to collect any points.
Behind the leading duo, home nation Great Britain and season one champion France are battling for third, although GBR could still mathematically clinch the second-place spot. Behind them fifth-place South Africa is under threat from Germany, who won the 2006/07 title, and Ireland who are currently level with the Germans on 83 points.
Great Britain's Robbie Kerr holds the lap record around Brands Hatch and has already made A1GP history, becoming the first driver ever to win a race on home soil when he took victory in the Brands Hatch Sprint race in 2007. Twenty-eight-year-old Kerr is determined to better that performance this year:
'I cannot wait to return to Brands Hatch and race in front of the home crowd once again. My main focus is to go one better than last year and win both races. Obviously we cannot control our competitors so what happens with the Championship happens, but we'll certainly make sure our chances are good by going out there and targeting the front row in qualifying and then winning races from there.'
Ireland Offers Ultimate Prize to Fans at Brands Hatch: A1 Team Ireland is challenging its fans to get in the party spirit at Brands Hatch - by offering a special prize for the spectator that gets in the Irish mood the best. The fan who turns up to raceday wearing or showing the best Irish-themed costume or display, will win the chance to walk the grid prior to the Feature race and have a photo taken with driver Adam Carroll in the team's garage. Ireland will have its spies out in the many spectator areas at Brands Hatch, its home race, looking out for the 'most creative and vibrant show of support.' The winner will be notified by midday on raceday.
A1GP Pit Stop Regent Street: Ahead of the final round at Brands Hatch, A1GP World Cup of Motorsport will make a pit stop in London's West End on Sunday 27 April. Lower Regent Street will be transformed into an A1GP grid with all 22 nations' single-seater race cars lining up. As part of the festivities, fans will be able to purchase tickets for the main event the following weekend. Oliver Jarvis will be representing GBR at the Regent Street event, having shared this year's drives equally with Robbie Kerr, who is competing in the Le Mans Series at Monza, Italy, this weekend.
Formula One Legends at Brands Hatch: Four-time Formula One World Champion (1985, 1986, 1989, 1993) Alain Prost will be at the A1GP season finale to watch his son, Nicolas Prost, perform rookie duties for France on Friday during the first practice session. Prost joins three other F1 legends in the A1GP paddock; Emerson Fittipaldi, seat holder of A1 Team Brazil, Alan Jones, A1 Team Australia seat holder, and John Watson, Sky Sports commentator. Olivier Panis, F1 race winner, will also be in attendance as Sporting Director for A1 Team France.
Global Village: A1GP will be unveiling a new off-track concept next weekend - the A1GP Global Village - geared towards delivering extra entertainment for A1GP fans and spectators during a race weekend, all included in the admission ticket price.
The initiative is being launched at Brands Hatch and it will host a range of interactive activities, including changing a tyre on a real A1GP car with the fastest time winning the chance to walk the grid just before the start of the Feature race. It will also include displays of race cars, an official A1 Team merchandise shop and a unique atmosphere to eat and drink.
GBR recalls Winslow as rookie: 2007 Formula Renault V6 Champion and Australian F3 racer, James Winslow, who joined GBR earlier in the year as rookie driver for round five and six in New Zealand and Australia, has been recalled to perform rookie duties for the British squad. 27-year-old Winslow, who was born in Witham, Essex, will be in action on track on Friday at Brands Hatch and will provide support to Kerr throughout the weekend.
Hinchcliffe Comeback for Canada: James Hinchcliffe will return to race for A1 Team Canada as previous lead driver Robert Wickens is not available due to other racing commitments. Hinchcliffe has not driven at Brands Hatch before, but has been capped 18 times for Canada in the past two seasons. He also started the 2007/08 season before Wickens took over the race seat. Canada is currently in ninth place in the A1GP standings and is aiming to secure its best ever finish in the series, having finished 11th in the first two seasons. Eighteen-year-old Daniel Morad will again compete in Friday morning's rookie-only session.
Martinez returns for Mexico: David Martinez will race for A1 Team Mexico for the first time in more than two years at Brands Hatch next weekend. Mexico has chosen to recall the 26-year-old to its squad, and with his last start coming 49 races ago, Martinez will set the record for the largest number of races between caps for a driver in A1GP. Martinez was capped four times for the team in the 2005/06 season, finishing in the points in his maiden race in Germany in 2005. He last raced in Durban, South Africa in January 2006 but he recently returned as the rookie driver for the team's home event in Mexico City last month. He will drive the full race weekend, using the rookie session to learn the British circuit.
Lola's Golden Jubilee: The Brands Hatch event will mark the last outing of the Zytec-powered A1GP Lola cars as the British manufacturer celebrates 50 years in motorsport. The Brands Hatch Feature race will mark the 64th and final race outing for Lola in A1GP. From season four onwards Ferrari will consult on the design and manufacture of the A1GP chassis and will manufacture and supply the engines.
Brands Hatch Birthday Boy: A1GP Sky Sports commentator and Formula One race winner, John Watson, will celebrate his 62nd birthday on raceday at Brands Hatch. Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland on 4 May 1946, Watson made his F1 debut in the British Grand Prix in 1973 and retired from the sport in 1985, having achieved five race wins, 20 podiums and two pole positions.
Emerson Fittipaldi Fights for Peace: Brazilian Formula One legend and Laureus World Sports Academy member Emerson Fittipaldi joined the celebrations at the Laureus-supported Fight for Peace (Luta Pela Paz) project in Rio de Janiero this month as it achieved status as an independent Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO).
Fight for Peace was born in 2000 as a small boxing and education project at Viva Rio for around 25 children and young people in the Complexo da Mare favela (slum) in Rio de Janeiro. It now supports over 500 young people each year. A second Fight for Peace project is to be launched in the East End of London at the end of April.
Pre-event PR activity: The PR activity for the Brands Hatch race weekend will take place on Thursday (1 May) morning at the Kent County Cricket Club Ground in Beckenham. The drivers will train in the nets and then play a limited overs cricket match against academy players from the Kent County Cricket Club.
Drivers from the following nations will be taking part in the event: Australia, Great Britain, India, Ireland, Lebanon, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Switzerland, USA
Information on copyright free television footage and still images from the events can be found on the media website at www.A1GP.com/press .
About the Brands Hatch Circuit: The inaugural A1GP meeting took place at the circuit in September 2005, where 72,000 fans turned up to watch A1 Team Brazil secure the first two victories in the series. The second meeting - the 2006/07 season finale - was the first time a home nation had won their home event. A1 Team GBR's Robbie Kerr delighted the crowd when he dominated the Sprint race, leading from start to finish. However, recently crowned champion A1 Team Germany fought back in the Feature, with Nico Hulkenberg fending off Kerr to provide a thrilling end to the season.
With its fierce undulating circuit and fast sweeping corners, Brands Hatch is one of the most challenging Grand Prix circuits in the world. The infamous Paddock Hill Bend has ended many a driver's race, including A1 Team Lebanon's Khalil Beschir, who rolled spectacularly in A1GP's first-ever meeting. A1 Team Australia's Ian Dyk also crashed in a major way here, at the start of the 2007 Feature race.
Brands Hatch has existed since 1926, when a grass track was used for motorcycles. Since then, many motor racing legends have won at the circuit, including Stirling Moss, Jim Clark, Jack Brabham, Emerson Fittipaldi and Ayrton Senna. The 2.65-mile Grand Prix circuit was constructed in 1959 and first held a major motor racing event in 1960. During the Sixties, the owners negotiated a deal that meant the British Grand Prix alternated between Brands Hatch and Silverstone.
Through the Eighties and Nineties, the circuit changed ownership several times, before being bought by MotorSport Vision in 2004, headed by ex-F1 driver Jonathan Palmer. Since then the circuit has hosted many international motorsport meetings, with World Superbikes, DTM and World Touring Car fans regularly making the pilgrimage to Kent.
Track length: 4.22 km (2.62 miles)
Lap record: 1m14.923s, recorded by Robbie Kerr, A1 Team Great Britain, April 2007
The A1GP Brands Hatch, Great Britain event runs from 2-4 May, starting with the rookie driver and developing nations' sessions on Friday morning from 11.00 to 11.25 and again from 11.35 to 12.00. All 22 teams can take part in the later practice session from 14.00 to 15.00. Final practice and qualifying for the Sprint and Feature race will take place on Saturday with the two races scheduled to run on Sunday at 11.00 and 14.30 respectively.