IRELAND TARGETS MALAYSIAN REVIVAL Irish A1GP team aiming high in Kuala Lumpur Dublin, 22 November 2006: Malaysia's state of the art Grand Prix track at Sepang, Kuala Lumpur, is set to host the fourth round of the 2006/07 A1GP World Cup of ...
IRELAND TARGETS MALAYSIAN REVIVAL
Irish A1GP team aiming high in Kuala Lumpur
Dublin, 22 November 2006: Malaysia's state of the art Grand Prix track at Sepang, Kuala Lumpur, is set to host the fourth round of the 2006/07 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport this weekend with Ireland's team aiming for a reversal of fortunes after a tough start to the season. The team qualified 3rd for last year's A1GP event in Malaysia, former Jordan Grand Prix driver Ralph Firman enjoying a strong performance, so the Irish team has excellent experience and technical data from the Hermann Tilke/Michael Schumacher designed 5.5km circuit. Main driver Michael Devaney and Reserve Driver John O'Hara will be aiming to make the most of Friday's practice sessions as the team seeks to establish a competitive pace ahead of a typically hard fought weekend.
Friday evening will see A1 Team Ireland hosted by the Irish Ambassador to Malaysia, Eugene Hutchinson, at a reception being held in its honour in his official residence. Local dignitaries and business leaders will be present to welcome the Irish team and are to be joined by senior management from A1GP along with selected representatives from some of the other teams including A1 Team Malaysia. Newly appointed A1GP Chief Executive Officer Pete da Silva will be among the guests.
The focus for the team this weekend is to establish whether the chassis problems which plagued its first two events this season have been cured, the third round in Beijing providing little opportunity for the drivers and technicians to establish its pace.
"It's been a very tough start to the season but we know the reasons, there's no point in looking back and it's good that we're going to a track which the team knows and will show us where we are in relation to the others," said Devaney, the Rathfarnham driver who is leading the team this season. "The track is very wide with lots of changes of direction and some long straights. The racing will be close, but we know the set up that worked last year and it's good to have that as a starting point."
For John O'Hara the curtailed Rookie Practice Session in Beijing two weeks ago allowed him little track time, so he is looking forward to a full run this Friday. "I think this weekend is where our season will really start and I am looking forward to learning this track because it's one of the new breed of high spec Formula One facilities. Everyone in the team is determined to get the season going at last - we just need a clear weekend."
A1 Team Ireland owner Mark Kershaw is clear about the reasons for the team's difficult start to the season and confident of its ability to re-establish its position as a contender for points at every race.
"With the chassis problem really compromising our first two races before we managed to secure A1GP and Lola's support in pinpointing the issues our first proper crack at a result should have been in Beijing yet we then had relatively little track time and our races ended with the kinds of accident that are pretty common on tight, bumpy street tracks. In Malaysia we have good information about the direction to go with the set-up so the team and drivers just have to push as hard as possible and make the headway we deserve. It would be good to see this weekend as the turning point in our season."
Joining the team in Malaysia will be N.Ireland's Richard Lyons, the former Japanese Formula Nippon Champion and current Nissan Super GT driver attending the race to offer advice to both Devaney and O'Hara. Lyons qualified on pole position on his last visit to the Malaysian track in Formula Nippon in 2005 and has been on the podium there in Super GT - so his vast experience of the circuit should prove useful in guiding Ireland's A1GP line-up.
A1 Team Ireland would like to thank BPI Telecom, Manvik, IBP, Johnston Sweepers, Orca financial services, Rhino Linings, Palmerstown House and Motorsport Ireland for their support for Ireland's entry in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport.
-credit: team ireland