Chengdu: TW Steel preview

TW Steel - A1GP R2 Preview - Chengdu, China The 2008-09 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport heads to China this weekend, Friday 7th - Sunday 9th November, and the Chengdu International Circuit. TW Steel, the ‘Official Watch and Timing Partner'...

TW Steel - A1GP R2 Preview - Chengdu, China

The 2008-09 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport heads to China this weekend, Friday 7th - Sunday 9th November, and the Chengdu International Circuit.

TW Steel, the ‘Official Watch and Timing Partner' of A1GP, will again utilise the occasion to host the next leg of the ‘Miss TW Steel' competition - a global search hosted at each A1GP race meeting leading up to the grand finale at Brands Hatch, England in May 2009 where a $25,000 prize awaits ‘Miss TW Steel 2008-09' along with a professional photo-shoot for FHM Magazine.

The First Time:

A1GP returns to China for the fifth time in its short history with the Chengdu International Circuit, located 16km southwest from Chengdu City, hosting an A1GP meeting for the first time this weekend.

The 3.367km, 13-turn circuit will provide a new challenge for A1GP's competing nations following previous Chinese race meetings held at Shanghai International Circuit (2005-06 / 2006-07 / 2007-08), Jingkai Street Circuit in Beijing (2006-07) and the Zhuhai International Circuit (2007-08).

Remarkably there has yet to be a repeat A1GP winner in China with 10 different nations boasting a Chinese race victory. In those 10 events, including Sprint and Feature races, there have been no fewer than 17 nations to score a podium finish. A1 Team Great Britain holds the most podium finishes with a total of four - including a Sprint Race victory for Robbie Kerr at Shanghai in the 2006-07 season.

Perennial front-runners, A1 Team Germany and A1 Team New Zealand share three Chinese podiums apiece, Germany celebrating a Sprint Race victory last year in Zhuhai courtesy of Michael Ammermueller while New Zealand has similarly graced the top step thanks to a Feature Race win by Jonny Reid at Shanghai in the 2006-07 season.

The list of Chinese A1GP race winners also includes Malaysia (Alex Yoong), Czech Republic (Tomas Enge), Netherlands (Jeroen Bleekemolen), Italy (Enrico Toccacelo), India (Narain Karthikeyan), Switzerland (Neel Jani) and USA (Jonathan Summerton).

The host nation, A1 Team China, currently has just one podium appearance to its credit on home soil, a third place Sprint Race finish scored last season at Zhuhai by Cheng Cong Fu - a result that proved extremely popular with the Chinese race fans!

The full list of Chinese A1GP podium finishers, and their respective top-three tallies from the 10 races held to-date, are as follows: Great Britain (4), Germany (3), New Zealand (3), Australia (2), Italy (2), Malaysia (2), Mexico (2), Portugal (2), Switzerland (2), Canada (1), China (1), Czech Republic (1), India (1), Ireland (1), Netherlands (1), South Africa (1), USA (1).

Chengdu Driving Impressions:

While the Chengdu International Circuit is an unknown quantity to all 20 competing A1GP nations this weekend, with a series lap record to be set by the new ‘Powered by Ferrari' A1GP car, the track is familiar to a few drivers associated with the series.

A1 Team New Zealand, currently third overall in the 2008-09 A1GP Nations Standings, will have no doubt tapped into the mind of Earl Bamber who sensationally steered the team to a pair of podium finishes at the opening round of the new A1GP season in Zandvoort, The Netherlands last month. While Bamber will be absent from Round 2 this weekend, the team opting to give another rookie a shot, in the form of Chris van der Drift, Earl has previous track knowledge of Chengdu having competed at the circuit in the Asian Formula Renault V6 Championship.

"Chengdu's not the longest track A1GP will visit but it's pretty technical," previewed Bamber. "It's quite a tight, twisty circuit. Out on the back of the track, the elevation change isn't too dramatic but it's tricky as you go over a blind brow before turning into a corner and you don't actually see the apex of the turn so you've got to be confident in what you're doing.

"I really enjoyed racing there and I think it'll provide a suitable challenge for the A1GP teams this weekend due to its technical nature and the limited amount of time they have on-track before heading into qualifying. I've no doubt Chengdu will produce some good racing, overtaking might be a bit tricky but there are definite areas where if you get everything lined up carefully you can make a move. It's by no means going to be easy for the drivers to get both the most out of the car and the track at Chengdu. The drivers might make the difference more so than car set-up this weekend!"

The 18-year-old ‘Kiwi' had the honour of starting the new A1GP season for A1 Team New Zealand and he was suitably impressed with the power and performance from the brand-new A1GP car introduced for the 2008-09 season - the fourth year of the nation versus nation championship.

"The ‘Powered by Ferrari' A1GP car was absolutely incredible," said Bamber. "It feels like a proper race car with a bunch of horsepower and downforce. It really is quite special to drive and I thoroughly enjoyed racing it last month. I'm obviously hoping I can get back behind the wheel of ‘Black Beauty' and score more podiums and hopefully wins for A1 Team New Zealand later in the season. I earned two TW Steel A1GP watches for my podium double at Zandvoort so I'm keen to score a few more podiums so I can get the whole team kitted out!"

TW Steel A1GP Watch:

To celebrate the start of its relationship as the ‘Official Watch and Timing Partner' to A1GP, TW Steel launched its A1GP range at the opening round in Zandvoort. Based on the successful TECH collection, the three TW Steel A1GP models have already proved to be ‘must have' items - Further details available on the TW Steel website.

-credit: twsteel

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Series A1GP
Drivers Tomas Enge , Narain Karthikeyan , Robbie Kerr , Jeroen Bleekemolen , Chris van der Drift , Jonathan Summerton , Cheng Cong Fu , Earl Bamber , Michael Ammermüller