SEPANG SAUNA FOR BLACK BEAUTY A1 Team New Zealand have their sights firmly set on a return to the pointy end of the field this weekend when racing gets underway at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia for Round Three of the A1 GP World Cup ...
SEPANG SAUNA FOR BLACK BEAUTY
A1 Team New Zealand have their sights firmly set on a return to the pointy end of the field this weekend when racing gets underway at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia for Round Three of the A1 GP World Cup of Motorsport.
Round Two was a rough affair for A1 Team New Zealand, as the bumpy nature of the track challenged team and driver alike. The end reward from the weekend was a mere two championship points from seventh place in the Sprint Race, allowing Team Netherlands to join New Zealand at equal third place in the points standing.
Team Ireland was the big mover in Chengdu, jumping from zero points to twenty three by the chequered flag in the Feature Race. Ireland won the Sprint Race and finished just 0.5 seconds from winner Team Portugal in the Feature Race.
Stepping back into Black Beauty for A1 Team New Zealand for Round Three is eighteen-year-old Earl Bamber. Given the A1GP championship rewards nations, not drivers, it makes sense to recall the teen from Wanganui for his second race weekend at the wheel of the 'new for Season Four' Black Beauty.
Bamber has driven literally thousands of laps at Sepang. His experience at the 5.5km circuit comes from a variety of race-cars, but in particular Formula BMW and Formula V6 Asia. His time on the track included numerous victories and lap records, but the step up to the 600bhp A1GP car will require every ounce of talent the young Kiwi has.
Racing against New Zealand are nations with drivers who have some enviable CV's. A number of drivers including those from Team India and Malaysia have considerable Formula 1 mileage under their belts. Nations such as Switzerland and Ireland, with driver Adam Carroll, have huge seat time in cars relative to the high performance A1GP racer.
Having twice finished second overall in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, it's exciting for A1 Team New Zealand to feature a driving line-up with three drivers all capable of extracting every possible nano-second of lap time out of Black Beauty. The clear focus for the team is the top step of the podium at season's end, so New Zealand will need to be on form at every round remaining this season.
This weekend Bamber expects the heat to be one of the leading factors for drivers, particularly in the closing stages of the Feature Race. Track temperatures of over fifty degrees are quite normal, so drivers will need to manage their condition all weekend. With drivers suited up in layer after layer of protective clothing, they'll have their own personal sauna by the end of each session on track.
The temperatures combined with a physically demanding circuit may prove to be the biggest test of the new 'Powered by Ferrari' setup to date. Bamber describes the layout of Sepang as a "very physical track. There are long sweeping corners that really work the driver's neck, as well as some tight, slow speed hairpins".
To follow the progress of New Zealand at Sepang this weekend, log on to www.A1GP .com and select the 'live timing' or 'video stream' options. TV3 will also show coverage of the action from Sepang this Sunday, with Qualifying from 2.30pm and race coverage starting at 11.55pm on Sunday evening.
Earl Bamber, Driver
"I'll be drinking lots of water all weekend, because the heat is so tough at Sepang. Even getting into the car works up a sweat"
"We should be able to get onto the pace reasonably quickly. Some drivers have had more seat time in the car than me, but I love driving at Sepang"