Eastern Creek, Australia (November 06, 2005) -- Suspension failure robbed Sean McIntosh of scoring back-to-back top ten finishes for Team Canada today in the fourth round of the A1 Grand Prix of Nations at the Eastern Creek International Raceway...
Eastern Creek, Australia (November 06, 2005) -- Suspension failure robbed Sean McIntosh of scoring back-to-back top ten finishes for Team Canada today in the fourth round of the A1 Grand Prix of Nations at the Eastern Creek International Raceway in Australia.
Having taken ninth place and two more points for Team Canada in the Sprint race, Sean's hopes of a second straight top ten finish and additional points were dashed just nine laps from the end of the shortened Feature race at the 3.93km New South Wales circuit as a wishbone failure forced the team's second DNF of the season.
Sean's trip down-under for the first of A1 Grand Prix's â€˜long-haul' events began on a positive note as the 20-year-old Vancouver racer continued to set top ten practice times throughout Friday's sessions in his 3.4-litre V8-powered Lola-Zytek.
Heading into yesterday's qualifying period the team opted to sit out the third and final practice session to conserve Sean's set of slick tires for a concentrated attack on the top of the time sheets. The decision looked ominous as McIntosh sat 17th heading into the fourth and final qualifying run but the Canadian charger pulled the fourth fastest lap time with his last run to record an aggregate time of 2m38.636s, good enough for seventh on the grid for today's Sprint race and his fourth consecutive race start from that position.
Sean lined up for this afternoon's opening Sprint race on the fourth row alongside Jos Verstappen, the former F1 driver competing in the series for Team Netherlands. As the pack took the rolling start Sean darted to the inside line but lost out two places to drop back to ninth. From there he held station throughout a processional 19-lap sprint, the race shortened by a lap due to a couple of safety car periods eating into the allotted timeframe.
Team Canada pocketed two more championship points courtesy of Sean's ninth place finish, his fifth top ten result of the season, and a fifth-row grid slot for the hour-long Feature race.
Unfortunately for Sean, his chances of fighting at the front in the Feature race were dealt a massive blow as contact from behind bounced him into the air and ultimately into last place once he got going again.
Racing back up the order Team Canada opted to call McIntosh into the pits for an early stop. The pit crew's slick teamwork allowed Sean to pass several cars in pit lane. He then hustled his way back to tenth overall to place himself in the running for at least one more championship point having endured a tough day at the office in Australia.
It wasn't to be however as a wishbone failure forced McIntosh to retire the Team Canada charger under a safety car period on lap 26 for a horrific crash involving Team Japan's entry -- the driver thankfully unscathed despite being knocked unconscious by the impact.
Team France triumphed once again to take both Sprint and Feature victories in Australia, the French squad currently dominating the top step of the podium with six straight wins.
Commenting after a disappointing weekend Sean said:
"Not quite the weekend we were looking for here in Australia but we can still come away with some positives. The highpoint was definitely my final lap in qualifying which shows we have the pace but there's still a few things to refine to get our race pace back.
"The Sprint race was fairly boring but we added to our points haul. In the Feature race the guys in the pits did a great job, I think we passed about three cars in pit lane which helped make up for some of the position lost thanks to the first turn accident. The wishbone failure is just one of those things that happens in motorsport -- there was nothing we could do about it. We'll regroup before Malaysia and look for two solid results next time out."
Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia hosts Round 5 of the A1 Grand Prix of Nations, 18th-20th November.
Results -- A1GP R4 Eastern Creek International Raceway, Australia
Team Canada, Sprint Race -- Started: 7th / Finished 9th (2 Team Points) Canada, Feature Race -- Started: 9th / DNF (0 Nations Points Points) Standings after Round 4 -- Team Canada, 11th (20 Points)