Canada's Hinchcliffe Scores Top-Six Brace Down-Under Sunday 21 January, 2007 -- Taupo Motorsports Park in New Zealand proved to be a happy hunting ground for A1 Team Canada's James Hinchcliffe (20) as the Toronto rookie heralded his return to ...
Canada's Hinchcliffe Scores Top-Six Brace Down-Under
Sunday 21 January, 2007 -- Taupo Motorsports Park in New Zealand proved to be a happy hunting ground for A1 Team Canada's James Hinchcliffe (20) as the Toronto rookie heralded his return to competition by picking up a pair of top-six finishes on Sunday in Round 6 of the 2006-07 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport.
Sixth at the checkered flag in both the Sprint and Feature races, Hinchcliffe's performances netted the Canadian entry a total of six points to maintain its footing in the top-ten of the A1GP Nations Standings, the team currently placing ninth from the 23 competing nations. Germany stretched its advantage at the head of the pack to 19 points over France (65-46) courtesy of back-to-back wins in New Zealand from teenage sensation Niko Hulkenberg, the German pole-winner scoring his third and fourth A1GP victories and his first top-step podium sweep.
Having qualified seventh for Sunday morning's 20-minute Sprint race, Hinchcliffe passed A1 Team Great Britain's Robbie Kerr for sixth place on the run to the first turn. After that the 20-year-old held station with passing opportunities limited not least due to the slick nature of the brand new 3.5km track. With points awarded to just the top-six in the Sprint event, Hinchcliffe claimed the final score but more importantly secured a third row grid slot for the afternoon's 50-lap Feature race.
A loose car greeted James at the start of the afternoon race but his pace soon picked up following his mandatory pit-stop, taken on lap nine, the opening of the pit-window. Armed with a fresh set of tires and with the handling vastly improved James placed seventh. He remained there at mid-distance, enduring a solitary race to that point with Kerr three and a half seconds ahead of him and Williams Formula One test driver, India's Narain Karthikeyan, four and a half seconds behind in eighth.
The status quo was interrupted on lap 40 with Kerr retiring the British entry promoting Hinchcliffe up into sixth. Consistently faster it wasn't long before James found himself at the back of a five-car train headed by France's Loic Duval in second, all giving chase to the dominant Hulkenberg. The German scored his second win of the day with Duval second and New Zealander Jonny Reid delighting the 25,000-strong home crowd with third, the Feature top-three a carbon copy of the Sprint podium.
"I'd have liked to have scored a few more points," stated Hinchcliffe upon his A1GP race return. "I didn't want to try anything too heroic in the Sprint and settled for the final point and decent grid slot. We were looking really fast towards the end of the Feature race but for the most part it was a fairly quiet outing although Taupo's a physically demanding track so I was working hard on every lap!"
-credit: team canada