Malaysia Now Lies Joint Sixth In Championship Sepang, 20 November - The local Malaysian fans turned out in force at the Sepang International circuit today, the majority of whom were wearing A1 Team Malaysia t-shirts waved their flags ...
Malaysia Now Lies Joint Sixth In Championship
Sepang, 20 November - The local Malaysian fans turned out in force at the Sepang International circuit today, the majority of whom were wearing A1 Team Malaysia t-shirts waved their flags enthusiastically every time Alex Yoong's bright yellow car passed them.
For them, the last lap was particularly sweet as Alex came up behind A1 Team New Zealand and used all his experience to snatch fifth place, matching the team's highest finishing place achieved in the Feature races of Britain and Australia.
The 5th position achieved is also a record of sorts as this is the highest position achieved by a team in it's home race after 5 rounds of the inaugural A1 Grand Prix which has been run in Britain, Germany, Portugal, Australia and Malaysia.
With the three points from Fairuz in the Sprint race and nine from Alex in the Feature race, Malaysia now lies in joint 6th overall position out of 24 teams, up from joint ninth before the Malaysian round.
"The Malaysian fans are fantastic. I could see their reaction each time we passed the grandstands was electrifying. It is appropriate that we thank them all for turning up to give us their support and this is from every member of A1 Team Malaysia. We are happy that we didn't disappoint them with our performance in the Feature race as well as in the Sprint race. The team has done their best - everyone of the team members - and Fairuz has done a good job to bring the car home in eighth. We are now all hungry for even better days to come." said Alex after the race.
Eight has proved a lucky number in Malaysia for A1 Team France who won the Feature race after starting from pole position while A1 Team Switzerland again followed home in second place. However, there was a newcomer to the podium with A1 Team Czech Republic finishing in third, one place higher than their previous best.
This time France made no mistake by getting away and into an early and unchallenged lead with A1 Team GBR taking second. It was Switzerland who pressured Britain's Robbie Kerr but was not able to overtake him until lap 12 after the two of them had been racing wheel to wheel for about one third of a lap.
It was again an action-packed race with the first casualty being A1 Team China when their A1 race car rolled several times after contact with Portugal on lap two. Luckily Tengyi Jiang was soon out of the car that landed on its wheels and A1 Team Portugal was able to continue after visiting the pits for repairs. Soon after this it was India and Pakistan who collided with Armaan Ebrahim running into the back of the car driven by Adam Khan. India continued in the race although it was eventually excluded after receiving a push start from the marshals while Pakistan never made it back to the pits.
Battles down the field were fast and furious with Mexico and Australia driving side by side on lap eight while contesting fourteenth position. Two teams who had an awful lot of hard work to do were A1 Teams Netherlands and Brazil who both failed to get away from the grid with the other cars. Nelson Piquet Jr was particularly lucky as cars swerved around him on the grid but he soon started to make his way up the field and scored a point for his team.
Italy, USA, Canada and the Czech Republic were also doing battle and for several laps the four were only separated by 1.5 seconds. The pit stops came relatively late in the race with A1 Team France waiting until the end of lap 16.
Until that point the order at the top had been France, Switzerland and Great Britain but of these three, only France managed a trouble-free pit stop. Theirs took just 40.5 seconds while for A1 Team GBR it was problems both getting the wheel off and putting the wheel nut on that kept them there for nearly two minutes. When the car lost all its drive a short while later it was all over for the British team. The Swiss stop at the end of lap 18 was 53.11 seconds.
Mexico was the last of the teams to pit and therefore its top three position as the race drew to a close was unrepresentative. At the end of lap 28, they came in from fourth and dropped down to sixteenth. The other late stopper was A1 Team Netherlands with their stop at the end of lap 26 when lying in eleventh place.
A1 Team Canada was on for a top six finish but when Sean McIntosh decided to try an overtaking manoeuvre for fifth on lap 22 that was the of the end of his race as he clipped the rear of Enrico Toccacelo's Italian car and afterwards accepted total responsibility for an error in judgement.
The sixth round of A1 Grand Prix, the World Cup of Motorsport will be held at the Dubai Autodrome on 9 - 11 December 2005.