Taupo: Team Canada preview

Wickens Ready for Antipodean Challenge The 2007-08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport season reaches the halfway marker in New Zealand this weekend with A1 Team Canada selecting Toronto's Robert Wickens to compete in Round 5 at Taupo Motorsports Park,...

Wickens Ready for Antipodean Challenge

The 2007-08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport season reaches the halfway marker in New Zealand this weekend with A1 Team Canada selecting Toronto's Robert Wickens to compete in Round 5 at Taupo Motorsports Park, Friday 18th -- Sunday 20th January.

Wickens remains behind the wheel of the Canadian entry for the third straight event having made his competitive A1GP debut last November scoring Canada's only points to-date thanks to a third place podium finish in Round 3's Sprint race in Malaysia. Having confirmed his plans to compete in the European-based 2008 World Series by Renault in December, the 18-year-old A1GP rookie hopes to kick-start the New Year with another competitive showing for his country as he gets set for his debut competing at the stunning 3.5km Taupo Motorsports Park on New Zealand's North Island.

Impressive qualifying performances from Wickens, including a high of fifth place in Malaysia, have been tempered by frustrating Feature race outings with the Ontario-native posting early retirements in both Malaysia and China. Hoping that the third time will be a charm, Robert will no doubt be keen for a repeat of last season's Taupo form when James Hinchcliffe steered Canada to a pair of top-six finishes, the last time the team scored points in both the Sprint and Feature events at a race meeting.

On-track this weekend's event at Taupo breaks ground with all 22 competing nations running on biofuel. The use of the ethanol based E30 is the cornerstone of an ambitious series of initiatives to help reduce A1GP's environmental footprint and forms part of the series 'THINK Greener Racing' policy.

"I'm really excited to be racing in New Zealand," said Wickens ahead of his trip 'down-under'. "We have to take advantage of running in the 'Rookie-Only' session to maximize our track time, I know the layout's been modified a little since the previous A1GP visit but we've proved we can get up to speed pretty quickly. The team's been working hard over the break and our aim will be to maintain the pace we've shown previously in the earlier part of the weekend through to Sunday when it matters most!"

Team Manager Simon Cayzer previewed the weekend by stating; "In China we started the weekend well but didn't get the chance to show our pace in the race. It's important for us to get a good result in Taupo and carry that momentum forward to the Australian round a fortnight later.

"We want to show our pace again and get some points. Biofuel will make fuel consumption a bit more interesting but it shouldn't affect performance. Realistically we're aiming for two podiums. Unfortunately one of our team members won't be with us this weekend and we'd just like to wish him all the best - Simon we want you back soon!"

Sunday's 20-minute Sprint race starts at 11am local time on Sunday (5pm EST Saturday 19th January) with the 70-minute Feature race starting at 3pm in New Zealand (9pm EST Saturday 19th January).

Setanta Sports Canada will broadcast Round 5 live starting at 8pm EST on Saturday 19th January and again on Monday 21st January as a tape-delay at 8am EST.

-credit: a1teamcan.com

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Series A1GP
Drivers Robert Wickens , James Hinchcliffe