Podium Delight for Wickens and A1 Team Canada A1 Team Canada scored its first points and podium of the 2007-08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport season on Sunday as Robert Wickens belied his rookie status to finish third in Round 3's Sprint race...
Podium Delight for Wickens and A1 Team Canada
A1 Team Canada scored its first points and podium of the 2007-08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport season on Sunday as Robert Wickens belied his rookie status to finish third in Round 3's Sprint race at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia.
Having reached the podium on his A1GP race debut, the 18-year-old from Toronto experienced a more frustrating Feature event, Wickens retiring early from the proceedings after a frantic start. A1 Team Canada exits Malaysia sitting 12th in the A1GP Nations Standings, with ten points scored courtesy of Wickens' Sprint race podium while A1 Team Switzerland leads on 61 after Champ Car racer Neel Jani dominated events at Sepang with back-to-back victories.
Starting fifth on the grid for the 10-lap Sprint race, Wickens wasted little time in placing the Canadian entry into the top-three. Jani led from pole while Robert launched up the order giving chase to France's Loic Duval in second. Germany's Michael Ammermuller was an ever present threat from behind but Wickens had the measure of his rival until an over-steer issue presented itself.
The Canadian rookie put on a fine display of defensive driving but an overly-aggressive last lap move by the German resulted in contact, Ammermuller dropping Wickens to fourth at the checkered but a penalty issued to the German following a stewards enquiry rightfully handed the final podium placing to Robert -- a well earned reward for both team and driver. Wickens and the Canadian crew subsequently had reason to be optimistic heading into the afternoon's 35-lap Feature race having scored their first points of the season and battled at the sharp end of the grid. Neel Jani collected the Sprint win for Switzerland ahead of France's Duval and Ammermuller for Germany.
The opening lap of the Feature provided early drama as Wickens was tipped round following contact at turn one having started from 12th on the 22-nation grid. While he recovered, the 2006 Formula BMW USA Champion found himself down in 18th with a long race ahead of him to crack the top-ten.
Undeterred and quickly sprinting up through the order, Robert was then helpless to avoid a collision with Adrian Zaugg seven laps later as the South African attempted to point his car in the right direction having spun out at turn eight. Some fast acting from the Canadian avoided a potentially huge impact but the resulting contact was enough to put both cars out on the spot. A1 Team Switzerland's Jani went on to triumph again ahead of Brazil's Sergio Jimenez and France's Loic Duval.
Commenting after a day of highs and lows Wickens reflected; "It was great to score a podium in the Sprint race as Germany's last lap move was quite desperate. It's a brilliant result for the team and a great way to start my A1GP career. In the Feature I thought I left plenty of room at turn one but I was knocked into a spin. I got back up to speed and then the incident with Zaugg happened. I saw him on the grass as I came into the corner but then he drove straight out in front of me leaving me with no alternative other than to go off to try and avoid him. It was unbelievable and not how I wanted to end the day!"
"Robert drove magnificently all weekend," said Team Manager Simon Cayzer. "He deserved a podium in the Sprint on merit alone so we're delighted with the end result and it's a culmination of the work put in by the whole team and James Hinchcliffe in racing for us through the opening rounds and being here this weekend as well in support. The first corner incident in the Feature was just one of those things but Zaugg's move was just plain dangerous. He didn't look and he could have caused a major accident!"
The 2007-08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport continues with Round 4 hosted at the Zhuhai International Circuit in China, Friday 14th -- Sunday 16th December
Setanta Sports will broadcast Round 3 on 26th November at 8am EST
SPEED will air Round 3 on 6th December at Noon EST