Wickens Scores Shanghai Sprint Podium Shanghai, China (Sunday 13 April, 2008) -- Robert Wickens wracked up his fifth podium of the season for A1 Team Canada today in Round 9 of the 2007-08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, the penultimate round...
Wickens Scores Shanghai Sprint Podium
Shanghai, China (Sunday 13 April, 2008) -- Robert Wickens wracked up his fifth podium of the season for A1 Team Canada today in Round 9 of the 2007-08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, the penultimate round of the nation versus nation series and the Canadian's final appearance for the team. From third on the grid the 19-year-old from Toronto scored a second place Sprint finish before going on to set the fastest lap of the afternoon's Feature race -- a problematic first pit stop ultimately thwarting any hopes of a points score in the later event.
Wickens, already with more points and podiums to his name than any other Canadian to have competed in A1GP, capped a stellar rookie season in China with another front-running performance in the 20-minute Sprint, his podium scoring efforts adding to Canada's points tally with the team holding ninth overall in the A1GP Nations Standings, on 75 points, with only the Brands Hatch season finale remaining next month.
A superb qualifying effort from Wickens the previous day, with just one hour's practice time on the 4.6km track, put A1 Team Canada in prime position for a decent finish in this morning's 10-lap Sprint. Qualifying third behind Switzerland's Neel Jani on pole and Portugal's Felipe Albuquerque, Wickens made a great start to snatch second as the 22-strong field of nations gave chase. Holding second Wickens duly took the checkered for his fifth A1GP podium in seven rounds. Jani celebrated the win for title-leaders Switzerland ahead of Wickens and Albuquerque in third.
A disappointing qualifying session meant Wickens started 12th on the grid for the 70-minute Feature race. The Canadian wasted little time in trying to break into the top-ten and the points paying positions. An aggressive shot at tenth came up just short on the second tour with disaster striking a handful of laps later at the first of two mandatory pit-stops on lap 10. A mechanical issue with one of the wheel changes cost Wickens precious track time and position.
With a points finish realistically out of reach now, the Canadian team aimed to underline their pace and grab the point on offer for fastest lap of the race. Robert failed to disappoint, setting a hot lap of 1m35.177s just five laps from the checkered -- a marker that remained unbeaten. Wickens finished the 38-lap Feature 20th with A1 Team USA celebrating their maiden A1GP victory courtesy of Florida's Jonathan Summerton.
"Well the Sprint race went really well as I knew we were capable of securing a podium finish," stated Wickens. "I got the start I was hoping for and I just wanted to score as many points as I could. I wasn't so happy with my Feature start and I was being held up a bit through to the first stop. Unfortunately we had a hold up at the stop but that's racing! Luckily the team gave me a good car and we managed to get the fastest lap towards the end of the race. Looking at the lap times I was matching the American entry so it's a bit disappointing. Overall I've had a great year in A1GP and I was able to accomplish everything I set out to. It's been a great experience but I leave definitely wanting more!"
Mark Gallagher, whose company, Status Grand Prix, operates A1 Team Canada, was full of praise for Wickens; "To take a fifth podium in seven weekends of racing for A1 Team Canada is once again testament to Robert's ability. The Sprint race produced another superb result. Robert then showed in the Feature, with the fastest lap, what the car was capable of. Overall it's been another strong weekend where we were competing at the right end of the grid. We head to Brands with hopes of a strong finish to the season. We'll have a driver change there but in the meantime we'd like to thank Robert for the stunning job he's done for the team this season!"
Setanta Sports Canada will broadcast Round 9 from China as a tape-delay starting at 8am EST on Monday 14th April -- www.setantanorthamerica.com
The 2007-08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport concludes with Round 10 hosted at the Brands Hatch Circuit in the United Kingdom, Friday 2nd -- Sunday 4th May.