Pre-season newsletter 2006-07-03

Countdown to Season Two: 11 weeks 6 days A1 race car put through its paces The A1 race car was tested for sheer speed last month, when international magazine Autocar pitched it against the most expensive supercars in the world. Recording a...

Countdown to Season Two: 11 weeks 6 days
A1 race car put through its paces

The A1 race car was tested for sheer speed last month, when international magazine Autocar pitched it against the most expensive supercars in the world. Recording a time of 8.4 seconds from 0-100-0mph, the 550bhp V8 A1 car was unsurprisingly top of the time sheet.

It was the first run for an A1 car in the UK, since being flown around the world for A1's first season after the inaugural race at Brands Hatch in September 2005. Since then, the A1 cars have raced on six continents, completing 102,905 racing miles. Despite this, the A1 car functioned perfectly during the test, reaching 60 mph in 3 seconds and 100 mph in 5 seconds.

A Bugatti Veyron was the car that got closest to the A1 car's time, but it was still a second and a half slower, despite being the most powerful and fastest production car in the world.

A1 Team Great Britain driver Robbie Kerr was on hand to show what his race car could really do, 'It was really great to be behind the wheel of an A1 car again, it seems ages since I last drove it at Laguna Seca! I was determined to get the best time possible out of the car, even though conditions were a little slippery. I'm busy racing in World Series now, but I'm really looking forward to the start of the A1 series again in the autumn.'

The second season of the A1 Grand Prix World Cup of Motorsport will kick off on 1 October at Circuit Park, Zandvoort in the Netherlands. Over 100,000 tickets have already been sold for the event.

International weekend of motorsport for A1 drivers

It was truly an international weekend of motorsport for the drivers who competed in the first season of A1. A1 drivers competed in the DTM race at Brands Hatch, the IRL race at Indianapolis and the V8 Supercar race in Darwin, Australia.

Graham Rahal had the most promising weekend, becoming the youngest ever pole winner in the Indy Pro Series. The 17 year old lined up first on the grid for the Formula One support race and led the first 21 laps of the Liberty Challenge before going off at the restart. Rahal managed to get back on track, finishing second behind previous A1 Team Great Britain driver Alex Lloyd. It was a great win for the Briton, who only half an hour before the start of the race had been in the infield medical centre on an intravenous drip.

Despite losing the lead, Rahal was philosophical about his first IRL outing. 'It was my race to lose, and when I went into turn 1, I stood on the brakes and the thing just did not want to stop. It was unfortunate, but we just have to move on.'

Back in the UK, A1 Team Germany, Austria and Netherlands drivers took to the track at the first DTM race to be held at the Brands Hatch circuit. It was German, Timo Scheider who came out on top, finishing just out of the points in tenth place. 'After a poor starting position we did achieve quite a bit, even though we didn't finish in the points. The start was great, I overtook two cars straight away. Audi has made a wonderful car available to us, which made it possible for me to overtake Mika Hakkinen in a nice duel.'

Mathias Lauda finished the race in 14th after a solid race, one place behind A1 Team Netherlands reserve driver Jeroen Bleekemolen who had problems during his first pit stop.

Over in Australia, A1 Team Australia drivers Will Davison and Marcus Marshall were competing in the V8 Supercars race in Darwin. Over the three races, Davison managed to post a best result of 13th place, while Marshall could only manage 22nd.

A1 GRAND PRIX MAKES PLANS FOR THE 2006/7 SEASON

A1 Grand Prix's Executive Board and Seatholders have discussed a number of changes, both commercial and technical, to be implemented in the Series' second season to commence 1 October in Zandvoort, the Netherlands.

Among discussion points that were agreed were:

* The extension of the Feature race from 60 minutes to 70 minutes.

* The reduction of the Sprint race from 30 minutes to 20 minutes as well as a change in the points system, allocating points to the top six finishers only.

* The points system and prize money for the Feature race will remain unchanged.

* The time between the Sprint race and the Feature race will be increased to nearly three and a half hours allowing for scrutineering, the lodging of any protests and technical adjustments to the cars.

Recent A1 television deals included license agreement renewals in the Netherlands with RTL7 and TV3 in New Zealand. In addition Sky Sports UK has agreed to allow a delayed race broadcast to be made available on terrestrial television.

A1 Grand Prix has committed to a 12 race calendar for the 2006/07 season with specific locations to be confirmed shortly. New franchise applications were also discussed as well as a general review of the performance of all existing franchises with a view towards potential changes in location and ownership for the coming season.

HALLIDAY OVERCOMES DRAMAS TO WIN IN FORMULA RENAULT V6 ASIA AT SEPANG

New Zealand racing driver Matt Halliday has completed his first weekend of racing in the inaugural Formula Renault V6 Asia series with a win in the feature race at Malaysia's Sepang circuit. A late call up to compete in the high speed single-seater series was initially fraught with dramas but a masterly display from the Kiwi A1GP driver saw him win Sunday's 50 minute long feature race comfortably.

Racing under the banner of locally based Team Meritus, Matt started the weekend fastest in both free practice sessions by well over half a second. The first drama struck during qualifying when heavy rain began falling and with little time to make adjustments, a decision was made to revert to dry weather settings and slick tyres on a drying track. Unfortunately, rain continued to fall, leaving Matt in sixth position on the starting grid for the Saturday's first sprint race.

The first twelve lap race started well and Halliday quickly moved up to second place and closing on the leader. However, with two laps remaining a rear tyre deflated leaving him a non-finisher. After another blinding start, Matt worked his way up to the front when race was stopped for an on-track incident. At the re-start he seized his opportunity and again hit the front to open a lead he would not relinquish:

"I thought I was looking great after free practice then it started to go a bit wrong but things were restored for Sunday and we dominated the race today. I appreciate the series promoters inviting me to race in the series and to 42 BELOW for their support both on the car and around the circuit" said Matt after the podium ceremony. Thanks also to Barrie Tomlinson and all the guys who put this together.

2006 sees the Formula Renault V6 class debuting in Asia as part of the annual Asian Festival Of Speed and Matt sees it as an opportunity to maintain his single-seater skills over the southern hemisphere winter. The Asian Festival of Speed (AFOS) is recognised as Asia's premier motorsport V6 Asia by Renault, Porsche Carrera Cup Asia and Formula BMW Asia.

AFOS is organised by Motorsport Asia Ltd and runs annually from March to November visiting 8 different venues throughout Asia bringing the event live to more than 300,000 spectators. AFOS also captures wide media coverage reaching audiences in over 65 countries and is regularly featured in over 200 publications around the world.

A1 DRIVER FIRMAN WINS IN MALAYSIA

A1 Team Ireland star Ralph Firman took the podium in round four of the Japanese Super GT Championship for Team Honda Racing this weekend in Malaysia, taking the championship lead in the process.

Firman, the principal driver for A1 Team Ireland last season, claimed pole position and won the race despite gruelling conditions which saw his cool suit fail in the intense Sepang heat, at the same time as he was suffering from a chest infection and taking antibiotics.

But he delighted bosses and fans alike by putting in an exceptional performance in front of the 36,000-strong crowd.

He said: "It's fantastic to have won this race and taken the Championship lead. The Honda is good here and I was able to put it on pole by almost a second. The race was far from straightforward as both the cool-suit and radio system broke just before the start so we were reduced to pit board communication only, and on top of that I had been feeling very unwell as I had a bad chest infection all week and was on antibiotics.

"As things worked out I was able to build up a lead and Ito-san did a great job when he took over. The Nissan (Lyons/Krumm) put us under quite a bit of pressure but we held on. It's terrific for Honda to be leading the Championship now as we've had a couple of races not go our way, and Bridgestone did a great job with the tyres. Now we want to get our heads down and make sure we build on this result as we want the title this year, no question."

After four rounds of the Super GT series the Ralph Firman/Daisuke Ito Team Honda Racing ARTA Honda NSX is on 51 points, eight in front of the Team Honda Racing Takata Dome Honda NSX driven by Ryo Michigami and Takashi Kogure.

A1 Team Canada meet fans in Montreal

A1 Team Canada drivers Patrick Carpentier and Sean McIntosh were signing autographs and showing off their race car, during a weekend of motorsport in the Canadian city. As well as the attractions that the Formula One race had to offer, locals had the opportunity to get close to the car that represents Canada in the A1 Grand Prix World Cup of Motorsport.

Indonesian race winner Sean McIntosh said 'It was great to take the car back to our home country and show Canadians what A1 has to offer. The car looked great on display and drew a lot of attention. I can't wait to get back in the car for the next season, it's a great feeling to race for your country.'

During the A1 off-season, McIntosh has paired up with fellow A1 driver Robbie Kerr, driving for the KTR team in the World Series by Renault Championship.

ALEX YOONG IMPRESSES CROWD AT SEPANG

A1 Team Malaysia took their bright yellow car to the Sepang International circuit on Sunday 25 May, where it completed three fast laps to the delight of the 35,000 strong crowd. The Malaysian fans, who gathered to watch the fourth round of the Japanese GT Super Series cheered on their national motorsport hero.

The lone A1 car completed five laps in total and a series of doughnuts, which was a taste of what's to come when A1 heads to Malaysia for the A1GP, Sepang, Malaysia on 26 November 2006. The rest of the team joined Yoong on track, throwing A1 Team Malaysia t-shirts to the excitable crowd.

'It was great to be back in the A1 race car on home ground and brought back memories of my fifth place here last year,' said A1 Team Malaysia driver, Alex Yoong. 'I can't wait to bring the car back in November, when the team will be hoping for an even better finish. We demonstrated we have the pace to win at the last round in Shanghai, and a race win on home soil would be the perfect result.'

For further information on A1 Grand Prix, including ticket sales and television listings, please visit www.A1GP.com.

-www.A1GP.com

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About this article
Series A1GP
Drivers Mika Hakkinen , Patrick Carpentier , Graham Rahal , Alex Yoong , Timo Scheider , Robbie Kerr , Will Davison , Ryo Michigami , Ralph Firman , Daisuke Ito , Jeroen Bleekemolen , Takashi Kogure , Alex Lloyd , Sean McIntosh , Mathias Lauda , Matt Halliday