Sentul: Team Ireland preview

Ireland pushes for points in Sentul Dublin, 6 December 2006; A1 Team Ireland will be aiming to improve its competitiveness and score more championship points in this weekend's fifth round of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport in Sentul, ...

Ireland pushes for points in Sentul

Dublin, 6 December 2006; A1 Team Ireland will be aiming to improve its competitiveness and score more championship points in this weekend's fifth round of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport in Sentul, Indonesia. With Michael Devaney having scored the team its first point of the season ten days ago in Malaysia, the Irish squad goes to Sentul with both Devaney and Reserve Driver John O'Hara stepping back to allow the experienced Richard Lyons to make his debut for the team on the 4.12km track.

Last year the Irish team qualified 7th and finished 6th in the Sprint Race, Ralph Firman going on to set the fastest lap, and A1GP lap record, of 1m19.029 in the Feature Race. With improvements to the circuit, including some resurfacing, the Sentul track promises close racing - last year's event was a thriller, being won by Canada despite driver Sean McIntosh starting last on the grid.

Ireland's John O'Hara will play an important role in this weekend's event, for although the team plans to run 27 year old Lyons in all the practice sessions including the Rookie session, O'Hara's knowledge of the Sentul circuit gained from racing and winning in the Asian Formula 3 series will prove useful to Lyons and engineer Andy Miller. Michael Devaney will also be present, naturally disappointed not to be racing, but supporting the team's decision to draft in Lyons due to his experience gained from competing in the Formula Nippon series which he won in 2004. The team's focus is on improving overall competitiveness, having this season been in the low-to-mid teens in terms of practice and qualifying positions.

"I'm really honoured to having been invited to drive for Team Ireland this weekend," said Lyons, from Hillsborough. "This is an extremely good opportunity that I will not be taking lightly and will do my very best to deliver not just for me but especially the team as everyone has clearly been working hard this season. I have quite a lot of experience in this type of car and hope we can all work well together to get Ireland on the top of the podium in the not to distant future."

Team Owner Mark Kershaw and Team Principal Mark Gallagher promised major changes would be made in an effort to find improved performance. "The decision to put Richard Lyons in the car has been made because we wanted to find an experienced driver who has raced and won at this level of motor sport and yet can qualify for all the practice sessions including Friday's Rookie session," said Kershaw. "Some observers have taken this as a vote of no confidence in our existing drivers - but that is simply wrong. We have to find solutions and the drivers understand that we have suffered compared to some of our rivals in having to split the sessions between them. That wouldn't be a problem if the car was competitive, but it is not, so we have to find a cure."

-credit: team ireland

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Series A1GP
Drivers Ralph Firman , Richard Lyons , Sean McIntosh , Michael Devaney , John O'Hara