Taupo: Series Sprint race report

New Zealand Storms to Home Race Win New Zealand made A1GP history today dominating the Taupo Sprint race from lights-to-flag to take its first ever A1GP win at home. It became only the second team to win a home race in the history of...

New Zealand Storms to Home Race Win

New Zealand made A1GP history today dominating the Taupo Sprint race from lights-to-flag to take its first ever A1GP win at home. It became only the second team to win a home race in the history of the thrilling series. Jonny Reid led from pole to take the chequered flag and score 15 crucial points, moving ahead of France for second in the championship.

Current title leader Switzerland's race was over on the first lap due to a turn one collision, moving the Kiwis to just five points behind the Swiss in the championship battle.

The packed grandstands were on their feet as Reid crossed the line three seconds ahead of defending champion Germany's Christian Vietoris, to secure the first win for New Zealand since taking the double victory in Brno earlier this season. Germany's Vietoris, who picked up a bonus point for clocking the fastest lap of the race on lap nine, started from fourth on the grid but quickly closed in on South Africa and France to take second by lap six.

New Zealand and Germany were joined on the podium by France's Loic Duval, who raced to a strong third place, followed by South Africa's Adrian Zaugg in fourth.

The Netherlands, Ireland and USA finished fifth, sixth and seventh respectively while Portugal recorded its best finish this season when Joao Urbano crossed the line in eighth position. Australia's John Martin and India's Narain Karthikeyan fought hard to take the final two points-paying positions while Pakistan's Adam Khan put in his best performance of the season to secure 11th behind India.

A1 Team Lebanon was on course for its first ever A1GP point when the Czech Republic's Tomas Enge hit Chris Alajajian from behind on the ninth lap, causing him to pit for repairs. The Lebanese team finally finished the race in 15th behind China.

Four cars were involved in a first lap incident, Malaysia, Switzerland, Brazil and Canada tangling into turn one, bringing out the safety car for two laps. Malaysia's Alex Yoong and championship leader Switzerland's Neel Jani were forced out of the action but Canada's Robert Wickens and Brazil's Sergio Jimenez were able to rejoin after pitting for repairs.

All 22 nations are now preparing for the main event of the weekend at Taupo, a thrilling and unpredictable 70-minute Feature race, which starts at 15:00 this afternoon.

New Zealand's Jonny Reid was ecstatic with his first home win and is eager for another in this afternoon's Feature race:

'It's huge, absolutely huge. It's the greatest moment in my motorsport career. It means a lot to me and the pressure's been on all weekend. It's been all go since I got back from the Christmas break and it's really, really satisfying to get one on the board for everyone. The pole position was nice but now we've got the points and that's what matters in the championship. It's great to have all the home support and I'm just stoked to be number one in the Sprint.

'We can definitely move forward in the Feature, it's a long race and we've just got to tune the car a bit more for the conditions and we'll be right there I'm sure. We've got to control the emotions a little bit after this first victory and look for another.'

Germany's Christian Vietoris, who raced to a superb second position, said:

'The main aim was to get on the podium for the Sprint race so I'm really happy. I feel really comfortable and the car now feels fine and I'm looking forward to the Feature race. I'm starting from the first row and with a good start I hope I can do well.'

France's Loic Duval, who finished third in the Sprint race and is on pole for the Feature race, said:

'I think Adrian took a really good start and actually was in front of Jonny. Christian could pass me in the first two corners and then I managed to come back and get on the podium. I had a good chance to overtake the South African car so it wasn't too bad and the car was ok. We are going to start first for the Feature race so I'm still really confident. I have to take a good start and if I am leading from the front then I think we have a really good chance.'

Fastest lap: A1 Team Germany's Christian Vietoris set the fastest lap (1m15.740s) of the Sprint race on lap nine.

-credit: a1gp.com

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Series A1GP
Drivers Tomas Enge , Narain Karthikeyan , Alex Yoong , Adam Langley-Khan , Neel Jani , Robert Wickens , Adrian Zaugg , Loic Duval , Joao Urbano , Christian Vietoris , Chris Alajajian , Jonny Reid , John Martin , Sergio Jimenez