Sean McIntosh took the Team Canada from the back of the grid to the top of the podium in today's A1 Grand Prix feature race in Sentul, Indonesia, after Team France's Nicolas Lapierre took the sprint race victory. "This is unbelievable," McIntosh...
Sean McIntosh took the Team Canada from the back of the grid to the top of the podium in today's A1 Grand Prix feature race in Sentul, Indonesia, after Team France's Nicolas Lapierre took the sprint race victory.
"This is unbelievable," McIntosh exclaimed after draping himself in the Canadian flag on the podium. "It was an honour to be on the top step of the podium singing 'O Canada.' The team did a great job and I want to thank them and Wade Cherwayko for the opportunity to race for A1 Team Canada."
It all started, amazingly, with an opening-lap collision between McIntosh and Team Malaysia's Alex Yoong in the sprint race. The Canadian's car was damaged badly enough that he had to retire in the pits, dooming him to the back of the field for the feature race starting grid.
At the front, first-time polesitter Robbie Kerr (Team Great Britain) couldn't hold off Lapierre for long, as the Frenchman made his move in the first turn, sneaking past on the inside.
Lapierre, once freed up and with empty road in front of him, took advantage to run fast lap after fast lap, bringing the gap to Kerr quickly up to five seconds by the halfway point and seven at the finish line.
"It was quite difficult with the tires, and I pushed hard to pass Robbie," Lapierre recounted. "Fortunately I had a really good balance on the car until the end. At the beginning of the race it was difficult to open up a gap to Robbie but as he began to defend against Salvador it got easier and by the end I was able to build up quite a big gap."
While the win consolidated Team France's lead in the championship standings, the second place moved Team Great Britain past Brazil into third place.
"We were close in this race, but not close enough," Kerr summed up his feelings. "The car was good and qualifying was good but, unfortunately, it didn't last."
Salvador Duran (Mexico) started third, but Switzerland's Neel Jani tried to take that away on the first lap -- until Duran pressed the PowerBoost button to keep his car ahead for good. Duran then focused on pushing Kerr, but he did not have Lapierre's magic touch, and was destined to follow Kerr to the finish, ending up a second behind.
"I'm very happy, even though we could even have finished second," said Duran. "The car was good although, at the end, there was a bit of oversteer."
Jani ran fourth for the first half of the race, but Team Malaysia's Alex Yoong, one of the few drivers with prior experience at Sentul, was determined to gain a good finish, and dove past Jani at the first turn on the ninth lap.
"I'm a bit disappointed we couldn't have done better," Jani said. "Just like in Malaysia I experienced a lot of oversteer and could not get rid of it."
With the grid for the feature race set based on the sprint race finishing order, Lapierre took the start from the pole position, followed by Kerr, Duran, Yoong, Jani and Ireland's Ralph Firman.
But unlike his start in the sprint race, Lapierre had trouble this time at the start, allowing Kerr to play tit-for-tat and take the lead into the first corner. With Duran stalling the Team Mexico car on the grid, the start turned itno a melee as drivers attempted to avoid the stricken car on the gird.
Anand Mikola (Indonesia) and Hayanari Shimoda (Japan) took the same path to avoid Duran, though, but as there wasn't room enough for two cars, the collision sent the Team Japan car into the barriers -- and brought out the safety car, the first of four for the race.
While on-track incidents mounted and the safety car count went up, the pits were busy, too, with drive-through penalties for Team Canada (crossing the pit line) and Team India (jumped start).
McIntosh was driving a cool, calm and collected race, though, and that would eventually earn him the victory. By the the twelfth lap, one third of the way through the race, he took the Canadian car past Team USA into twelfth thwlth