Sublime Kerr Scores Durban Street Podium Sunday 25 February, 2007 -- Robbie Kerr put A1 Team Great Britain's recent practice and qualifying gremlins firmly behind him to score a sublime second place Feature podium in Round 8 of the 2006-07 A1GP...
Sublime Kerr Scores Durban Street Podium
Sunday 25 February, 2007 -- Robbie Kerr put A1 Team Great Britain's recent practice and qualifying gremlins firmly behind him to score a sublime second place Feature podium in Round 8 of the 2006-07 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport in South Africa on Sunday afternoon.
An outstanding start from ninth on the grid combined with Kerr's ability to withstand race-long pressure from New Zealand's third place entry on the challenging 2.04-mile Durban street course allowed the British team to celebrate their first podium finish since Round 5's Sprint race in Indonesia and their first Feature podium since Kerr placed second in Malaysia last November.
Sunday morning's 20-minute Sprint race yielded little indication as to how competitive Kerr would become in Durban as the processional affair saw the former British F3 Champion gain just two spots on his 11th place starting position. Germany's Nico Hulkenberg led from pole, taking his fifth straight win ahead of rivals France and New Zealand, piloted by Loic Duval and Matt Halliday respectively.
Starting the afternoon's 70-minute Feature event on fresh tyres, Kerr launched himself off the line, quickly capitalizing on an opening lap melee to fly from ninth to fifth when the safety car was deployed just seconds into the race. Up to fourth at the re-start, Robbie wasted little time in locking in a podium spot for the British entry with a dynamic move on the Swiss team to take third. Already lapping the slower runners on the twisting streets of Durban, Kerr set the fastest lap of the race to that point on lap nine prior to darting into the pits to make his mandatory pit-stop.
The top-three leaders pitted together, Germany, Netherlands and Great Britain, with Kerr's team executing the fastest of the three stops. An incident in the pits saw the Dutch team served with a drive-through penalty promoting Kerr to second overall when the field filtered through following some frantic activity in the pits. Hulkenberg enjoyed a commanding eleven second lead while Halliday closed the gap to Kerr in second to less than a second.
The ensuing race-long battle for second would prove to be a thriller with Kerr time and again skillfully fending off the advances of his Kiwi counterpart. Despite a slightly less competitive car for the second half of the race, in part due to running on older tyres, Robbie kept the British car firmly planted in second. A late-race safety car period eradicated Hulkenberg's advantage at the head of the pack but the teen-sensation ensured he had enough track between himself and Kerr at the re-start, the German going on to take his sixth straight victory and eighth of the season. A jubilant Kerr claimed second at the chequered ahead of New Zealand's Halliday.
"It's fantastic to put our run of bad luck behind us with a strong result like that," Kerr enthused. "I made a great start and used the new tyres pretty well in the first run. We had a reasonable race car having solved some of the issues that hampered us earlier in the weekend. The team did a great job, I raced hard and we've finally got back up where we belong."
Round 9 of the 2006-07 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport sees a trip across the Atlantic to Mexico City and the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Friday 23rd -- Sunday 25th March.