Sentul: Team Canada pre-race notes

Canada's Indonesian Victory Still Fresh in McIntosh's Mind Tuesday 5th December, 2006 -- With the fifth round of the 2006-07 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport seeing a return to the Sentul International Circuit this weekend, 8th-10th December, A1...

Canada's Indonesian Victory Still Fresh in McIntosh's Mind

Tuesday 5th December, 2006 -- With the fifth round of the 2006-07 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport seeing a return to the Sentul International Circuit this weekend, 8th-10th December, A1 Team Canada's Sean McIntosh took time out this week to reflect on his maiden A1GP victory at the Indonesian track in February during the inaugural season when the Canadian triumphed in Round 8's hour-long Feature race.

The Vancouver-native ensured his final outing of the 2005-06 season for A1 Team Canada, before handing over to Champ Car veteran Patrick Carpentier, would be memorable as he bounced back from crashing out on the first lap of the Sprint race at Sentul to score an emphatic Feature race victory having started dead last on the 23-car grid.

McIntosh's astounding recovery was made all the more remarkable as he had to overcome a drive-through penalty in the process, the then 20-year-old Vancouver-native overcoming all obstacles that day to savour his opportunity to sing 'Oh Canada' from the top step of the podium while celebrating a Canadian victory -- a feat the team is keen to repeat in Indonesia this weekend.

Sean relished the chance to reflect on the proudest moment of his burgeoning racing career as he prepares to represent Canada once again at the Sentul International Circuit.

Sean McIntosh: "When I headed to Indonesia last time out I knew that Patrick Carpentier was coming into the team for the final three races but I didn't feel as if I was under any additional pressure as a result of that. I approach every race the same way and that's simply to try and compete at the front so it wasn't as if I was going to Sentul to do anything different just because I was being replaced for the rest of the season.

"We'd had a good season to that point, we'd had a few ups and downs along the way but everyone in the team was pleased with our performances so to cap it all off with a win in my final outing was definitely something very special. We hadn't dominated the weekend by being fastest in every session or anything like that. We knew we'd have to work hard at Sentul not least as we were having some balance problems with the car. I was actually a little bit disappointed that we qualified down in eighth for the Sprint race as I'd qualified around that spot quite regularly and wanted to make a bit more of a splash on my final run with the team.

"I made a good start in the Sprint race but unfortunately I quickly went from hero to zero as I made a pretty optimistic move on Alex Yoong in the Malaysian car. As a result of the opening lap collision I was out of the race and would have to start the Feature from the back of the field. Funnily enough, we sat there in the garage afterwards and thought that this being A1GP, anything could happen, such was the nature of the racing, so we'd look to pit early in the Feature and see what transpired from there!

"We took a bit of a chance on our set-up heading into the Feature. We'd been a little conservative over the course of the weekend, not wanting to try anything too crazy, but we figured we had little to lose given our starting position and it turned out the car handled beautifully in the race. I made another good start and our aim of getting into the top-ten, and therefore the points, looked quite achievable. The drive-through penalty, which followed my pit-stop, was definitely a set-back but I think after that the red mist came down and the spurred me on to overtake a few more cars and work my way back up through the field.

"I was able to place the car wherever I wanted, it really was excellent throughout the race and it definitely made it a lot easier to attack. I remember John Village (Team Manager) coming on the radio telling me to 'attack, attack, attack' and that's when I remember thinking that this could be our race for the taking if everything fell into place.

"The last safety car period was when it really dawned on me as I was sitting fourth and knew that Robbie Kerr (A1 Team Great Britain) and Stephen Simpson (A1 Team South Africa), who were leading 1-2 on-track, had still to make their mandatory pit stops leaving Tomas Enge in the Czech Republic car the actual race leader. I knew we were definitely in with a chance of a podium finish but similarly I thought we could be in with a shot of the win. At the same time my rear mirrors were full of Jos Verstappen in the Dutch entry, I couldn't lose him despite my best efforts and I'm sure a lot of people were expecting him to be able to pass me.

"I knew at the final re-start that I had to have a go at Tomas Enge, who was now leading, so I could hopefully put a bit of daylight between myself and Jos who was ever-threatening. We headed down the main straight and I took full advantage of my PowerBoost button to give me that extra bit of horsepower and I pulled off a pretty good move into the first turn to pass Enge. It was a little gutsy but sometimes when everything's going right you can get away with these things! I took the lead of the race and from that moment on I was suddenly aware of every noise and vibration in the car but needn't have worried as I raced on to the win!

"As soon as I took the checkered flag the team were on the radio screaming with excitement and I thanked them for doing an awesome job, it was an incredible feeling. To-date it's the biggest win of my career and with it happening on the international stage people definitely took notice of it. The victory was even sweeter as it was for Canada. While I was pleased with my personal performance I was representing my country in the World Cup of Motorsport and it was an amazing moment to take the maple leaf flag onto the top step of the podium and sing the national anthem.

"It was definitely a bonus to end my first driving stint for Canada with a win. I knew why Patrick Carpentier had been brought into the team to finish the season and I don't think it was a bad thing from a personal perspective as I had showed what I was capable of achieving and people were then able to compare my results to his, Patrick obviously bringing a wealth of experience with him. I think as a result of that, coupled with my win in Indonesia, it probably helped to elevate my profile back in Canada which can only be seen as a good thing as I look to progress my racing career!"

A1 Team Canada currently sits sixth overall in the 2006-07 A1GP Nations Standing following the first four rounds of competition. Toronto's James Hinchcliffe (19) steered the Canadian car for the first three rounds in Holland, the Czech Republic and China, scoring the team's first podium of the sophomore season in Round 2's Sprint race in Brno, with Sean McIntosh (21) returning to national duty for the first time since his Indonesian win last time out in Round 4 in Malaysia. McIntosh was immediately back up to speed and finished his weekend with a fine fifth place finish in the Feature at the Sepang International Circuit.

-credit: www.a1teamcan.com

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Series A1GP
Drivers Jos Verstappen , Tomas Enge , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Yoong , Robbie Kerr , Sean McIntosh , Stephen Simpson , James Hinchcliffe