LONE POINT SALVAGED FROM DIFFICULT WEEKEND IN SOUTH AFRICA A1 Team Malaysia salvaged a lone World Cup of Motorsport point for taking the fastest lap at the Kyalami circuit in South Africa today, in the fifth round of the A1GP World Cup of ...
LONE POINT SALVAGED FROM DIFFICULT WEEKEND IN SOUTH AFRICA
A1 Team Malaysia salvaged a lone World Cup of Motorsport point for taking the fastest lap at the Kyalami circuit in South Africa today, in the fifth round of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport. A ninth place finish in the Sprint race and a 15th place in the Feature race were the fruits of a difficult weekend for the Malaysian team.
The early part of the weekend was a major challenge for the team, after major engine problems from the first practice session through to minutes before qualifying. Fairuz Fauzy drove superbly, which combined with a welcome dose of good fortune to deliver a second place start for the Feature race and ninth position for the morning Sprint race.
The Sprint race began with a standing start and Fauzy was quick off his mark, battling for position. He attacked hard but maintained position until he was able to make a pass on the French car ahead of him, moving into eighth place. He stayed in this position until the mandatory tyre change pitstop. Fauzy brought the Malaysian car into the pits but the Swiss car was in the next pit and with a very tight pitlane, he had to stop at an angle. The Swiss car then pulled away from the pits, delaying the Malaysian mechanics running to the side of the car to change the tyres. This lost the team vital seconds and dropped them back one place to ninth..
Fauzy maintained position for the remainder of the race, posting fifth fastest lap time and having the highest top speed at 238.9 kph. Despite this, and with few laps left, he was unable to make it back into the points, to finally finish in ninth place.
After the Sprint race Fauzy said, "I was pleased to have finished in the top ten, but if we hadn't had our problems in the pitstop I think we could have been higher up the order. We lost a place to New Zealand and I wasn't able to get it back. I tried to catch this car but it is very difficult to overtake here."
The Feature race did not go to plan for Fauzy with a slow start off the line dropping him back to fifth place. After a close and frantic battles for position with Ireland Fauzy moved up to fourth place, but contact with New Zealand put him back down to fifth. He was then forced to pit with a suspected slow puncture from the incident with the New Zealand car and after changing a front tyre, he returned to the track, although now back in 16th place.
A few laps later Fauzy returned to the pits for his mandatory stop and with four new tyres returned to the race track. He continued to struggle with the handling of the car and was finally forced to go back to the team garage. The team worked quickly to resolve the problems and were finally able to send Fauzy back on track. With no hope of finishing in the top ten to score points, the team took the decision to use the PowerBoost feature and set the fastest race lap to score one point and Fauzy quickly accomplished this. The team were classified in 15th place at the end of the race.
Fauzy said of the race, "Naturally I'm very disappointed with today's Feature race. It should have been a podium finish for us, but instead we just have one more point. I had a bad start and lost two or three places, then I had to fight to get them back. I clashed with the Irish car after he squeezed me and he then went off. The New Zealand car was ahead of me in the first part of the race, but was very slow and blocking me. I kept pushing him to challenge for position but when he crossed in front of me for a corner I had to brake hard and we touched with my front wheel hitting his rear wing. After that the car didn't feel right.
I ended up returning to the garage and the crew worked hard to get me back out. I was lucky to be able to set fastest lap and at least get one point."
Jack Cunningham, Chief Executive of the team summed up the weekend saying, "We've faced innumerable challenges this weekend, particularly with engine supplier issues which have been out of our control. We thought we'd got it back on track with an excellent qualifying position for the Feature race and a potential for points in the Sprint race. But as we've done too many times this season, we weren't able to make the most of this."
The A1GP World Cup of Motorsport will visit the Algarve for the sixth round of racing, with the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve hosting the series for the first time.