Canada Secures Ninth in Final A1GP Standings Brands Hatch, United Kingdom -- A1 Team Canada celebrated its highest placing in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport on Sunday, finishing the 2007-08 A1GP season ninth overall despite a tenth and...
Canada Secures Ninth in Final A1GP Standings
Brands Hatch, United Kingdom -- A1 Team Canada celebrated its highest placing in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport on Sunday, finishing the 2007-08 A1GP season ninth overall despite a tenth and final round to forget for Toronto's James Hinchcliffe at the Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit in the United Kingdom.
The 21-year-old missed out on adding to Canada's points tally having been recalled to the team for the first time since Round 2 in October, James finishing 15th in the morning's 15-lap Sprint race and 17th at the end of the afternoon's incident-packed 48-lap Feature. Enjoying a comfortable cushion in the points, the Brands Hatch no-score ultimately failed to impact on Canada's ninth place standing -- the team's highest finish in three seasons of A1GP competition.
Hinchcliffe's race debut on the 2.62-mile Kent track lacked any real drama, the short nature of the Sprint race preventing too much in the way of passing opportunities. Lining up 15th for the rolling start, the Canadian lost a spot on the opening lap and held 16th through to lap 9. With China dropping down the order James was promoted back up the order to 15th and stayed there through to the checkered six laps later.
Pole-sitter Robbie Kerr delivered a second-straight Brands Hatch Sprint victory for A1 Team Great Britain with the USA's Jonathan Summerton second and Ireland's Adam Carroll third. Neel Jani's fourth place finish was enough to secure the A1GP title for A1 Team Switzerland with New Zealand's challenge coming up short at the final round.
While an engaging battle for the lead between India's Narain Karthikeyan, who started from pole, and local favorite Kerr entertained the crowd in the later Feature race, Canada's push for points was quickly eradicated with a series of penalties. Climbing to sixth on-track as the front-runners pitted for their first mandatory stop, Hinchcliffe was served with a drive through penalty for an alleged false start. Dropping to 19th as a result, Canada's day went from bad to worse as a 10-second 'stop and go' penalty was issued following a questionable line infringement from James' pit visit.
Down a lap on the leaders and with all hopes of cracking the top-ten long since gone, the team had one last attempt for points gunning for fastest lap of the race. Setting the fastest first sector time of the day, James posted a 1m16.204s lap three tours shy of the finish but was forced to settle for second best as the sister car of A1 Team Ireland, with Adam Carroll behind the wheel, took the extra point courtesy of a 1m15.997s. Karthikeyan scored his second win of the year for India with Kerr and Jani second and third respectively.
"Well it's been an eventful day for sure," said Hinchcliffe. "My car was rolling a bit at the start of the Feature but the grid's on a slope and I don't know how they expect people to control three pedals with two feet! Despite everything else that happened, and I'm really disappointed with the officiating today, the pace of the car was pretty good. I have to thank the Canadian team for their efforts this weekend, superb as always, and congratulate them on a great season!"
"James did a solid job considering he hasn't been in an A1GP car for six months," concluded Status Grand Prix's Mark Gallagher, who runs A1 Team Canada on behalf of Seat Holder Wade Cherwayko. "He was getting back into the groove with every session. Both races were frustrating though with the Feature hosting a catalogue of problems. Overall it's been a fantastic season for Canada with lots of podiums and a victory and it certainly puts down a solid foundation for next season. While today's results are disappointing, we've proved how competitive we can be!"
The 2008-09 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport -- Powered by Ferrari, featuring the next generation of A1GP car, gets underway with Round 1 hosted at Mugello, Italy, Friday 19th -- Sunday 21st September 2008