LADY LUCK STILL NOT SHINING ON MALAYSIA The A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, Taupo, New Zealand, was another weekend of drama for A1 Team Malaysia. A ninth place grid place for the Sprint race and 14th for the Feature race should have been an ...
LADY LUCK STILL NOT SHINING ON MALAYSIA
The A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, Taupo, New Zealand, was another weekend of drama for A1 Team Malaysia.
A ninth place grid place for the Sprint race and 14th for the Feature race should have been an opportunity for two points finishes, but the team retired from the Sprint after being the innocent victim of another driver's incident in the first sector for the third time this season, and another retirement after an incident in the Feature to leave Malaysia with two disappointing results.
The team lined up in their ninth place spot for the Sprint race with plenty of optimism for a top ten finish, but this was short-lived. After the rolling start the pack headed down to the first corner, three abreast and jostling for position. The Swiss car made a mistake and with two wheels on the grass slid back onto the track, into the side of Malaysia, but with Canada the other side, Yoong was squeezed by the two ending up being launched over the Canadian car and out of the race with substantial damage to the car. It was another race in which Yoong was a hapless victim of circumstances beyond his control.
Yoong said after his short Sprint race, "I'm just not getting any lucky breaks. I was caught up in Jani's (Switzerland) mistake with a painful result. Not only did our car suffer damage, I injured my hand. There was just nothing I could do. He did apologise afterwards and I appreciate that. The guys have plenty of work to do to put the car back together, with substantial damage, but I hope we'll be ready for the Feature race grid."
The break between the two races was an opportunity for the team to celebrate a milestone in A1GP. Yoong's fiftieth A1GP start was the Feature race in Taupo and as the most capped driver in the Series, Yoong was the first to reach the half century having notched up 4 wins, 6 podiums, 4 pole positions and 3 fastest laps en route, as well as covering 4781 race kilometres. Tony Teixeira, the Chairman of A1GP, visited the Malaysia garage amidst the repair work going on to the damaged to present Yoong with a celebratory cake.
The start of the Feature race once again saw incidents, although Malaysia were able to avoid a spinning India and gain a position on the first lap to lie 13th after lap 1. A one-lap safety car period held the cars in position and at the restart Yoong maintained his place, just behind the home nation, New Zealand. In the first few laps he made his way up the field to lie in ninth, but a spin on his in- lap to the first pitstop put him back down the order placing the Malaysian car 16th after the first round of pitstops. Climbing up to 14th in the mid sector of the race, Yoong maintained his pace until the second round of pitstops as the laps counted down to the chequered flag. A clean pitstop put the team back out with a gain in position, but an off-course excursion broke the front wing and put the Malaysian car out of the race whilst attempting to overtake Team Pakistan.
Yoong said of the Feature race, "I can't express how disappointed I am. I was having a lot of trouble with my hand in the left hand corners, and most of the problems came because I couldn't grip the steering wheel enough. It was just getting too painful and so we opted to park the car after the nose came off rather than change it and go out again. There was nothing else I could do."
Jack Cunningham, Chief Executive, A1 Team Malaysia, concluded, "At the moment it seems we just keep being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Alex was so unlucky this morning not to be able to benefit from a ninth place start, and to suffer a hand injury in the process. He drove the Feature race with substantial pain and we respect his professionalism in not letting this deter him from driving in the Feature race - it was just a shame that he was out with only twelve laps to go."
The Malaysian team will be back on the race track in two weeks time, with the third visit to Eastern Creek Raceway in Sydney Australia. The race takes place from 1 - 3 February, the sixth round of the 10 event 2007/08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport.