MALAYSIA BAGS FIRST POINT A1 Team Malaysia savoured their first A1GP World Cup of Motorsport point at their home race at the Sepang International Circuit in Kuala Lumpur today. The A1GP team, with driver Alex Yoong, had two action packed ...
MALAYSIA BAGS FIRST POINT
A1 Team Malaysia savoured their first A1GP World Cup of Motorsport point at their home race at the Sepang International Circuit in Kuala Lumpur today. The A1GP team, with driver Alex Yoong, had two action packed races today, overcoming racing incidents and off-track dramas to end the day with a 10th place finish in the Sprint race and 14th place in the Feature event.
The Sprint race start, with the traditional A1GP rolling grid at the green flag, began with a storming pack powering down to the first corner. Yoong, starting from 19th place, used all his driving experience and track knowledge to make up six places on the opening lap, a superb effort from the popular Malaysian. He fended off relentless challenges from the India car behind, with Narain Karthikayen hard on his heels -- and even hitting the rear of Yoong's car in his determination to pass him. Despite this, Yoong held him off, and then began to pull away from his arch rival, to take 11th place at the chequered flag. A penalty for the Netherlands team for jumping the start of the Sprint race then promoted Malaysia to 10th, to bring the team its first points paying finish.
The start of the Feature race was full of drama, with five cars making contact and scattering them off track, allowing Yoong to make up four places by the end of the first lap. A tight battle with the New Zealand car saw the two drivers dicing hard, but it was the Malaysian car which lost out, with heavy contact between the two resulting in Yoong losing his front wing with damage to the front right suspension. This necessitated a pitstop to put a new nose cone and front wing assembly on the car. The crew worked quickly and Yoong was quickly back out on track, although at the back of the field. With a mountain to climb Yoong continued on. An incident between South Africa and Canada played into Malaysia's hands with the safety car deployed to recover the cars. This allowed the field to make their first pitstops and Yoong pitted for new tyres, lying in 16th place at the restart.
From here Yoong started to put the pressure on the cars ahead and over the ensuing laps he passed rival after rival until the second round of pitstops. Unfortunately one of the British mechanics of A1 Team Malaysia responsible for the tyres collapsed with heat exhaustion prior to this, and had not set the pressures for the second set of tyres. Yoong soon found that his tyre pressures were incorrect and he struggled with the handling of the car in the final part of the race, which compromised his race pace and left him falling back to 14th by the chequered flag.
Alex Yoong said of the races, "A well earned point in the Sprint race for us which was just done to a massive attack and a great first lap to get 10th. The Feature race -- another great start, but we were struggling with grip for the first few laps, as we had in the Sprint, but then were up to speed. It was a shame that we had to pit for a new nose, but the safety car helped us get back into it and we were attacking hard. The tyre pressure problems in the final stint slowed us, and I think without those we could have had another top ten points finish. We're certainly making progress, and that's important.
"I would like to thank all the fans for coming out to support us. They were amazing and it's very humbling for the team to see this level of passion for us."
Jack Cunningham summed up the weekend saying, "First of all I would like to thank everyone in A1 Team Malaysia for the fantastic efforts that they put in to making our weekend so successful, giving our guests a warm welcome and allowing them the unique behind-the-scenes view of our operation.
"We also thank our sponsors for their support this weekend and I hope that we have demonstrated our passion and commitment to the nation and to delivering the best results that we can. Finally, I would like to mention our fans who turned out in force today to cheer us on. We're very proud to be racing here at Sepang and I think Malaysia and our rival nations put on a great day of entertainment, which I hoped they enjoyed."
A three week break before the next round of the A1GP Series will be used by the team to review their Sepang weekend and put together a plan for the fourth event, in Zhuhai, China, 14-16 December 2007.