Canada Celebrates Durban Sprint Victory Durban, South Africa (Sunday 24 February, 2008) -- Robert Wickens powered his way round the streets of Durban, South Africa today to lead A1 Team Canada to its first ever Sprint race victory in Round 7...
Canada Celebrates Durban Sprint Victory
Durban, South Africa (Sunday 24 February, 2008) -- Robert Wickens powered his way round the streets of Durban, South Africa today to lead A1 Team Canada to its first ever Sprint race victory in Round 7 of the 2007-08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport. The Toronto rookie capitalized on his maiden pole position to lead the 22-strong field of nations from green to checkered, claiming Canada's second ever A1GP victory and the first since Sean McIntosh's Indonesian Feature race triumph in the inaugural 2005-06 season.
Wickens threatened a second straight race win having hounded Switzerland's Neel Jani throughout the afternoon's 70-minute Feature event. The Canadian's race ended abruptly however on lap 40 taking action to avoid a backmarker. Despite this, Wickens' superb Sprint victory boosts Canada from tenth to eighth in the A1GP Nations Standings.
Having claimed A1 Team Canada's first ever pole position the day before, Wickens had his sights set on nothing less than victory in Sunday morning's 20-minute Sprint race. Durban's 3.28km temporary street circuit enjoys a notorious reputation for incidents and accidents and despite being hit from behind by New Zealand's Jonny Reid on the approach to Turn 1, Robert held his line at the start and more importantly the lead.
A late-race safety car period had the potential to threaten Canada's hopes but again Wickens showcased his coolness under pressure, the 18-year-old holding off Great Britain's Oliver Jarvis at the re-start with two to go. Robert duly claimed the win as the race ended under a red flag with Jarvis finishing second for Great Britain and Neel Jani third.
Canada then put forward a strong challenge for a second straight win in the Feature. With Robert sitting second after the first round of pit-stops and holding position following the second mandatory stop, the gap to Neel Jani in the lead was cut to as low as half a second by lap 36 with the race clock showing ten minutes to go. Disaster struck four tours later while lapping Lebanon's entry into the first turn.
Attempting to avoid contact with the slower car on the exit, the steering input snapped Wickens around resulting in contact with the wall. Robert then found himself hit by a blameless Oliver Jarvis as the Brit wasn't expecting to see the Canadian car on the exit of the corner. Wickens was out on the spot with Jani going on take to the Feature win ahead of France's Loic Duval and Portugal's Filipe Albuquerque.
Looking back on the highs and lows of the day Wickens commented, "Well obviously the Sprint win was an awesome result for the whole team and we were hoping for more of the same in the Feature. We've had a strong weekend but we should have had at least second place in the Feature. I was going to run into Lebanon on the exit so I put a lot of steering into the car and I just clipped the inside wall and spun around I apologize to Great Britain. We didn't get the result we wanted, I feel bad for the team as they've been nothing short of outstanding all weekend!"
Mark Gallagher, whose Status Grand Prix operates A1 Team Canada said; "When we took Canada under our wing six months ago we aimed to elevate the team onto the podium and today we took a victory after yesterday's pole position. This weekend showed that the technical crew headed by Simon Cayzer is top notch, that Robert is a special talent which the Canadian motorsport community and his sponsors at Red Bull should be very proud of. Similarly Wade Cherwayko's three years of investment in Canadian motorsport in A1GP should be recognized for the opportunity it has given to drivers like Robbie, James Hinchcliffe and Daniel Morad. It's a shame that the Feature didn't result in another podium, but we now look forward to Mexico and another strong weekend!"
Setanta Sports Canada will broadcast Round 7 from South Africa as a tape-delay starting at 8:30am EST on Monday 25th February -- www.setantanorthamerica.com
The 2007-08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport now crosses the Atlantic with Round 8 hosted in Mexico City, Mexico, Friday 14th -- Sunday 16th March
-credit: team canada