Kyalami: Series Sprint race report

The Netherlands Take First Win of Season Four Gauteng, South Africa -- Jeroen Bleekemolen took the Netherlands' first victory in Season Four in this morning's Go-GP.Org A1GP Gauteng, South Africa Sprint race. Bleekemolen drove a faultless race...

The Netherlands Take First Win of Season Four

Gauteng, South Africa -- Jeroen Bleekemolen took the Netherlands' first victory in Season Four in this morning's Go-GP.Org A1GP Gauteng, South Africa Sprint race. Bleekemolen drove a faultless race around the 2.65-mile Kyalami circuit to win by 4.407-seconds from Portugal's Filipe Albuquerque. Switzerland's Neel Jani had a good start to move up to second off the standing start, but finished third after losing time trying to manoeuvre round Malaysia's car, which had pitted in front of him.

Bleekemolen made a clean getaway from the standing start to lead the chasing pack into turn one for the first time. Switzerland had a great start from third to take second position from Portugal while India's Narain Karthikeyan also had a good start to move up from fifth to fourth.

India was not able to hold position for long as an aggressive move by Clivio Piccione moved Monaco ahead into fourth with Ireland's Adam Carroll also sensing an opportunity to get ahead only a few corners later, so pushing India down to sixth.

China's Ho Pin Tung and New Zealand's Earl Bamber were having a good battle for eleventh. China made a move at turn 13 on lap three but out-braked himself allowing New Zealand to re-take the position.

Malaysia's Fairuz Fauzy moved up ahead of France's Nicolas Prost for eighth, while the Netherlands' was storming away at the front with Bleekemolen having a 4.686-second lead over Switzerland by lap four.

With the order now the Netherlands from Switzerland, Portugal, Monaco, Ireland, India, South Africa, Malaysia, France and Italy, the pit window opened. The Netherlands and Switzerland were first in the pits with the following three runners staying out on track an extra lap. Bleekemolen had a smooth stop but Switzerland lost time having to get away slowly to manoeuvre round Malaysia's car, which had pitted just in front. Portugal pitted a lap later and was able to re-take second from Switzerland. After the only mandatory stop of the race the order was now the Netherlands leading by 6.4 seconds from Portugal, Switzerland, Monaco, Ireland, India, South Africa, New Zealand, Malaysia, France.

A1 Team Australia's fantastic pit work boosted John Martin six places up the field to his eventual finishing position, twelfth. While A1 Team New Zealand moved up three places after the stop.

Portgal was on a charge setting the fastest lap of the race on lap 9 with a time of 1m29.072s, slightly closing the gap to the Netherlands.

Further down the field, Great Britain's Danny watts and Brazil's Felipe Guimaraes came together fighting for fifteenth. The pair touched heading into turn one with Watts' car spinning into the gravel and out the race.

A very happy Bleekemolen came through to take the chequered flag and record the team's first win in 45 races. Obviously South Africa is lucky for the team as its first of three wins to date was round the streets of Durban in Season One. Switzerland and Portugal completed the podium with Ireland taking fourth from Monaco on the last lap, retaining its championship lead.

Race winner Jeroen Bleekemolen said: "I'm feeling pretty good. It all just went amazingly. It was a very hard race for me though, because in the beginning I could feel there was some kind of pull with the fuel pick up. It didn't cost me any time but I could just feel it coming. And then after the pit stop the car just stopped and I feared the race would be over, but it started working again. I lost about one and half or two seconds, but luckily we were still able to win.

"In the beginning we were really quick, I don't know why we were so much faster, but everything worked. The car worked really well until the problem came but then it still was exciting for me."

Portugal's Filipe Albuquerque said: "The team did a very good job and I managed to pass Switzerland. I'm really happy with the fastest lap and second place."

"I'm still aiming for the lead of the championship. It's going to be an interesting Feature race now because we are all together in the middle of the grid. We will see who the luckiest guy is because anything can happen. "

Switzerland's Neel Jani said: "We were second and then unfortunately we had some problems at the pit stop. First of all the pit stop was not that quick, and then I couldn't get out because Malaysia was parked in front of me. We have to be happy with third though as its still points so let's see what happens in the next race. "

-credit: a1gp

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About this article
Series A1GP
Drivers Narain Karthikeyan , Clivio Piccione , Fairuz Fauzy , Jeroen Bleekemolen , Neel Jani , Filipe Albuquerque , John Martin , Nicolas Prost , Earl Bamber