Mexico City: Series preview

A1GP Title Fight Heads To Mexico City Mexico City, Mexico -- With just three rounds of the 2007/08 season remaining, the prestigious A1GP title honours are still up for grabs, as the World Cup of Motorsport gears up for round eight in Mexico...

A1GP Title Fight Heads To Mexico City

Mexico City, Mexico -- With just three rounds of the 2007/08 season remaining, the prestigious A1GP title honours are still up for grabs, as the World Cup of Motorsport gears up for round eight in Mexico City next weekend (14-16 March).

Switzerland put in an impressive performance last time out in Durban to regain the series lead, now 10 points ahead of France, after a commanding Feature race win and Sprint race podium finish. France lies in second place on 108 points while New Zealand arrives in Mexico in third place on 98 points after enduring a frustrating weekend in South Africa.

A1GP's inaugural visit to Mexico City's Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit in March 2007 will be remembered for A1 Team Great Britain's maiden victory. Becoming the 13th nation in history to win an A1GP race, it was the inexperienced rookie driver Oliver Jarvis who blitzed the Feature, beating Sprint race winner, and therefore Feature race pole-sitter, Alex Yoong of A1 Team Malaysia.

2007 Formula Renault UK champion, Duncan Tappy, will join GBR in Mexico this year to take on the driving duties for the British team in the rookie session on Friday morning. Twenty-three-year-old Tappy, who was named Autosport Club Driver of the Year in 2007 and has twice been a finalist for the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award, won the 2005 Formula Ford Festival and finished second in the UK championship.

Last season's event was a tough weekend for host nation Mexico, who collided with neighbouring Brazil on the opening lap of the Sprint race, pushing the Brazilian car over the nose of the Mexican and into championship leader Germany. Salvador Duran managed to get the Mexican car back to the pits and the team made some quick repairs in time to get the car back out on track. Duran went on to record the fastest lap of 1m 27.534s, which remains the A1GP lap record around the circuit.

The bumpy surface makes handling difficult for the drivers and the relatively high altitude -- the track lies at 2,285 metres (7,500 feet) above sea level -- makes for challenging racing conditions. The infamous Peraltada corner, which is lined by a concrete wall on the outside and has no run-off area, has been modified slightly by adding an extra chicane on the entry to the extremely fast final corner, providing a breaking zone and potential overtaking opportunity.

Home nation confirms Garza and Martinez for Mexico City: Ahead of its home event next weekend, A1 Team Mexico has announced that David Martinez, who represented his nation in A1GP in season one and knows the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit well, will join David Garza in the Mexican squad. Garza, who was born in Monterrey, Mexico, is excited to be representing his country on home soil and is targeting a podium finish:

'Racing for A1 Team Mexico in my country will be a dream come true. I am really looking forward to racing at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez since half of my family lives in that city. I am extremely proud to have been elected to drive in Mexico and I am really committed to getting as much as possible out of this opportunity. I promise to give it my absolute best as I have done in the past, but with the support of the Mexican crowd I am sure we can achieve a great result. Since my first race in A1GP (in China in December 2007) I have always been dreaming of that moment, so this would be the best time to get out all that we have been learning since then, put everything together and get a podium for all my countrymen.'

As Garza is now ineligible to take part in the rookie practice sessions, 26-year-old David Martinez will drive the Mexican car on Friday morning. Martinez, who raced for A1 Team Mexico four times in season one, is delighted to be back in A1GP and looking forward to teaming up with Garza:

'I'm really happy to be able to represent Mexico and to help the team achieve a good result in front of all the Mexican fans, and what better way to do it than alongside David Garza. For many years we've wanted to be teammates and finally we are going to get a chance to do it. During the last few months I've kept myself busy and in shape driving Champ Cars, I've learned quite a bit and I believe that I will be able to apply that knowledge to help A1 Team Mexico improve their setup. I love this track, I've had a lot of success here and I'm really looking forward to putting in some quick laps in the Mexican car.

'I've always followed A1GP very closely, I think it is a very special concept and it's usually some of the best racing in international motorsports. I'm really glad to be back with A1 Team Mexico and I hope that together we can achieve a great result.'

GBR reveals driver line-up for final three rounds: A1 Team Great Britain has confirmed its race driver line-up for the final three meetings of the season; Oliver Jarvis will return to the scene of GBR's first victory in Mexico City next weekend while Robbie Kerr will be keen to build on his Sprint race victories at both Shanghai and Brands Hatch at the final two events. It will mean that the team will have split the driving duties this season evenly, with both drivers racing in five meetings each. During the final three rounds, GBR will also give opportunities to new 'up-and-coming' British stars, to demonstrate their talents in the rookie sessions who, should they impress, could play a part in the 2008/09 A1GP season.

Swiss star makes circuit debut in A1GP car: When championship leader Switzerland's lead driver Neel Jani takes to the track next weekend it will be his first experience of the challenging Mexican circuit in an A1GP car. The Swiss racer missed the event last year due to prior commitments so the team had Marcel Fassler behind the wheel. Jani knows he's got a tough weekend ahead of him but is up for the challenge:

'It is very good to go to Mexico as championship leader but as we have seen, it is very easy to lose the leadership in one race. It is more important that the team has a good, solid weekend. I know Mexico City from Champ Car and it is a very technical and challenging track that needs precise driving and concentration. I have never raced here before in A1GP so I am looking forward to getting to know the track in an A1GP car.'

Czech Republic recalls Salaquarda: Filip Salaquarda has been recalled by A1 Team Czech Republic to race at the final three meetings of season three, instead of Josef Kral. Seventeen-year-old Kral had been announced by the team as its lead driver for the rest of the season, but following a best finish of 16th in the Feature race in Durban, he will now be replaced by Salaquarda for the rest of the 2007/08 campaign, beginning with Mexico next weekend. The 24-year-old had his only two previous A1GP race outings at Shanghai, one of the other circuits remaining on this season's A1GP calendar.

Drivers from the following nations will be taking part in the event: Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Lebanon, Mexico, Portugal, South Africa, Switzerland, USA

About the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit:

Built in 1962, the 4.42km (2.74 miles) Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit is located in Mexico City and hosted its first Formula One race a year later. Construction of the circuit was encouraged by the arrival of a national top-line driver in the sport -- Ricardo Rodriguez.

He was later to lose his life at the track and his brother Pedro, who also drove in Formula One, was killed at a race in Germany. The circuit was later named in their memory and translates as 'Rodriguez Brothers Racetrack'. The circuit remained part of the Formula One calendar until 1970. It later closed and reopened again in 1986, with a new pit lane facility and increased safety features. The circuit held its last race in 1992, which was won by Nigel Mansell. International racing didn't return to Mexico City until 2002, when Champ Car rebuilt and raced at the track.

Track length: 4.42 km (2.74 miles)

Lap record: 1m27.534s, recorded by Salvador Duran, A1 Team Mexico, March 2007

The A1GP Mexico City, Mexico event runs from 14-16 March, starting with the rookie driver and developing nations' sessions on Friday morning from 11.00 to 11.25 and again from 11.35 to 12.00. All 22 teams can take part in the later practice session from 14.00 to 15.00. Final practice and qualifying for the Sprint and Feature race will take place on Saturday with the two races scheduled to run on Sunday at 11.00 and 15.00 respectively.


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About this article
Series A1GP
Drivers Nigel Mansell , Ricardo Rodríguez , Alex Yoong , Marcel Fassler , Robbie Kerr , David Martinez , Neel Jani , Salvador Duran , Oliver Jarvis , David Garza , Josef Kral , Filip Salaquarda , Duncan Tappy