Robbie Kerr -- Taupo Reflections London, England (January 25, 2007) -- Round 6 of the 2006-07 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport delivered a blow to A1 Team Great Britain's title aspirations as a no-score last weekend at the Taupo Motorsports Park ...
Robbie Kerr -- Taupo Reflections
London, England (January 25, 2007) -- Round 6 of the 2006-07 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport delivered a blow to A1 Team Great Britain's title aspirations as a no-score last weekend at the Taupo Motorsports Park in New Zealand saw them slip from second in the A1GP Nations Standings to fourth behind current points leaders Germany, France and New Zealand -- all three nations locking out the Sprint and Feature podiums down-under.
Luck was firmly against Great Britain's Robbie Kerr as he valiantly steered a damaged car to eighth in Sunday's Sprint race, two spots short of a points paying position, while a competitive effort in the Feature, with a top-six finish on the cards, was curtailed ten laps from the chequered courtesy of an exploding battery.
With the series continuing its stint in the southern hemisphere, heading to Australia's Eastern Creek Circuit for Round 7 next weekend, Friday 2nd -- Sunday 4th February, A1 Team Great Britain is bringing its full driving compliment to the Sydney track with Kerr joined by Oliver Jarvis, the 2006 British F3 Runner-Up returning to action to maximize the team's track time by running in Friday morning's Rookie-Only Session before handing over to Kerr.
Robbie took time out from his Australian preparations to reflect on the frustrations of last weekend's event in Taupo and to preview his return to Eastern Creek.
Q: Failure to score in New Zealand and Germany's domination of the event put a dent in A1 Team Great Britain's A1GP title hopes. Do you think the chase for the championship's over?
Robbie Kerr (RK): "Well it's certainly not over until it's mathematically over and we'll keep pushing right up to that point. The circumstances surrounding our failure to score in New Zealand are very disappointing but there wasn't an awful lot we could do about it. We have to keep our heads high and get on with the job in Australia. We raced there last season, it's a circuit I enjoy so I'm really looking forward to racing there next week."
Q: How big an impact on the weekend in NZ was the British team's absence from the Rookie Session?
RK: "It made some things a little more difficult. There were lots of little jobs that needed to be done and we lost an hour's running to most of the other teams who ran in the session and that's obviously going to have an effect. It's disappointing from that perspective but ultimately we got there in the end, we left it a little late in qualifying but still managed to get up into the top-six on the grid. We had a competitive car for the rest of the weekend but events transpired against us leaving us without any points for our hard work, it was a real shame!"
Q: Was the contact with Malaysia in the Sprint event a racing accident or do you think it could have been avoided?
RK: "I think it could have been well and truly avoided if a certain driver had been looking at the race lights instead of the other cars around him! Some of the drivers in front and behind started racing before the lights had changed at the start-finish line, it was just stupidity that led to the accident that damaged our car but I kept it in the race but unfortunately short of the points."
Q: Were you aware of any issues with the car prior to its failure in the Feature just ten laps shy of the finish?
RK: "No not really! We were competing right behind the Dutch car in fifth then all of a sudden I lost the gear-shift. It wouldn't work but the guys on the pit-wall thought it might be an intermittent problem so we continued the lap. I passed the pit-lane entrance but then suddenly we lost everything on the car on the main straight and that was game over for us, I had to pull over and park it on the grass. The battery had exploded which is one of these things that can happen but unfortunately for us it's something we've experienced before which is naturally very frustrating and it undoubtedly cost us a top-six Feature finish."
Q: As a brand-new facility, what was your impression of Taupo Motorsports Park?
RK: "The organizers did a great job in my opinion. The tight layout of the track obviously didn't lend itself to many overtaking opportunities but there were places you could pass if you had everything together on the lap. They're talking about extending the circuit for next season so hopefully that could improve some of the on-track action but overall I liked Taupo and look forward to returning in the future."
Q: You return to familiar territory next weekend as the series heads back to Eastern Creek in Australia. How important is track familiarity and given the team's performance last season, where you scored a second place Feature podium, do you think you can pick up where you left off?
RK: "Definitely! The car was good there last year and I believe we're at an even better point in terms of set-up this season so I'm looking forward to seeing what we can achieve this time round. Having track knowledge simply allows you to get on with the job, you don't have to waste any time learning the circuit Every little bit helps so the quicker we can get down to business the better our chances are come Sunday."
Q: With Oliver Jarvis returning to run in the Rookie Session in Australia, do you have a say in the set-up of the car during the Friday morning session and is there a difference as to how you and Oliver like to set things up to be able to drive the car?
RK: "We do like to run the car slightly different to each other but James Robinson, the team's engineer, knows exactly how we like things individually but we all work together to find the set-up that's going to work best for qualifying and the races. Last weekend proved how hard we worked together to improve the car and we'll be studying everything we learned heading into Eastern Creek to try and maximize our track time, starting with Ollie's run in the rookie session."
Q: Having raced throughout the inaugural A1GP season last year and again this year you're ideally placed to see the changes in the series, what are the biggest differences between then and now?
RK: "One of the biggest differences is the competitiveness of the teams. Some of last season's front-running teams have been less competitive this season while others that were mid-pack last year have really come to the fore. France for example had fallen away at the start of the season but are re-emerging while Germany and New Zealand weren't that strong last year but are challenging at the front now. From a British perspective we're effectively a new team this season but we're continually improving while learning to work together to get the car faster and keep us at the sharp end of the grid."
-credit: team great britian