Taupo: Team Ireland preview

Ireland relaunches A1GP campaign in New Zealand Former F1 designer Gary Anderson heads up engineering drive Dublin, 16 January 2007: Following a six week break A1 Team Ireland heads to this weekend's sixth round of the A1GP series in ...

Ireland relaunches A1GP campaign in New Zealand
Former F1 designer Gary Anderson heads up engineering drive

Dublin, 16 January 2007: Following a six week break A1 Team Ireland heads to this weekend's sixth round of the A1GP series in New Zealand with Richard Lyons confirmed as lead driver supported by John O'Hara and the highly experienced Gary Anderson taking over engineering duties for the balance of the season. Lyons, the 27 year old from Hillsborough, made his debut for the team in Indonesia last month, the 2004 Formula Nippon Champion impressing the team management with his technical feedback and strong race performance. O'Hara is in place as Reserve Race Driver, and will work closely with Anderson, although Lyons will continue to participate in all practice and qualifying sessions as he continues to enjoy 'rookie' status for three more events.

Gary Anderson brings to the team vast experience from race and design engineering. Principally known for his time as Technical Director of Jordan Grand Prix between 1990-98 and again in a senior role in 2002-03, he also headed design for Stewart Grand Prix in 1999 and through its transition to Jaguar Racing in 2000.

>From Coleraine in Northern Ireland, Anderson's career has included working with the famous Brabham, McLaren and Ensign Formula One teams, while he also founded Formula 3 race car manufacturer Anson. During his time at Jordan Gary Anderson worked alongside Mark Gallagher, now Team Principal for A1 Team Ireland and formerly Jordan's Head of Marketing, and also Team Ireland's Team Manager Dave O'Neill who previously headed Jordan's test team.

The newly redeveloped 3.5 km/2.17 mile Taupo circuit in New Zealand's North Island promises to provide a photogenic backdrop to this weekend's event, the track sited alongside Lake Taupo around a three and a half hour drive from Auckland. A tight circuit with 13 corners and an 800 metre pit straight, Taupo was a mere 1.4 kms long prior to its redevelopment for the A1GP event. Extra grandstands have been built to accommodate 25,000 fans at what promises to be a sell-out event, one of New Zealand's largest ever motor races.

"I am happy to have been confirmed with the team and to be working with Gary Anderson because he has tremendous experience and understanding of how to make a race car competitive," said Richard Lyons. "Obviously this will be Gary's first time working with the team and an A1GP car, but I have worked with him before when I was racing in Japan and that went well. We have a lot to do in order to catch up with the performance of the leading teams, but we are determined to bring a fresh approach and help Team Ireland score successes during the second part of the A1GP season."

Team owner Mark Kershaw is looking forward to working with Gary Anderson and seeing how his experience combined with that of Lyons will help the team. "It is an important step for the team to have someone of Gary's experience on board and it's also an indication of our determination to turn Team Ireland's season around. The fact that he and Richard have worked together before is obviously important, and although we do not expect a single weekend to change our fortunes I know they will be trying some new solutions in their efforts to make the team competitive."

A1 Team Ireland's Mark Gallagher is missing this weekend's event as he heads the team's quest to find a principal or title sponsor during the balance of this season, particularly with the third year of A1GP The World Cup of Motorsport set to start in September. Over 100 major Irish companies are being targeted as Team Ireland pushes for a main commercial partner to join the portfolio of existing backers which includes BPI Telecom, Manvik, IBP, Johnston Sweepers, Orca financial services, Rhino Linings, Palmerstown House, Aviation Display and Motorsport Ireland.

"We have achieved a significant amount since launching A1 Team Ireland 18 months ago," said Gallagher, "most notably in supporting Irish driving talent and giving Irish motor racing a presence in a prestigious world-wide series. We have attracted good support from the specialist and sports media and also been fortunate to secure coverage of the series on RTE2, including two races being broadcast live, to supplement the exclusive live coverage on Sky Sports. What we are now doing is speaking with companies in Ireland capable of taking on the principal sponsorship of the team and making Ireland's A1GP team its own. With terrific events all over the world, the opportunity to bring the car and team to Ireland regularly and growing media coverage, we are confident of finding a quality sponsor which will recognise the benefits of this terrific project and, ultimately, to work towards bringing an A1GP event to Ireland."

-credit: team ireland

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About this article
Series A1GP
Drivers Gary Jordan , Richard Lyons , Gary Anderson
Teams Jaguar Racing , Stewart Grand Prix