Team Canada season review, part 3

A1 Team Canada 2006-07 A1GP Season Review -- Part Three Montreal, Canada (June 01, 2007) -- Part three of our review of the 2006-07 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport season visits the second stop in A1GP's 'down-under' trip, a return to ...

A1 Team Canada 2006-07 A1GP Season Review -- Part Three

Montreal, Canada (June 01, 2007) -- Part three of our review of the 2006-07 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport season visits the second stop in A1GP's 'down-under' trip, a return to Australia's Eastern Creek circuit, followed by the popular Durban street race in South Africa. The series then crossed the Atlantic in March with a visit to a new destination in the form of Mexico City's Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez -- home of Round 9 of the 11-meeting A1GP schedule.

Round 7 -- Eastern Creek International Raceway, Australia, Sunday 4th February 2007

Following a successful double-points scoring outing two weeks earlier in New Zealand, A1 Team Canada headed to Eastern Creek International Raceway, situated just outside Sydney, Australia for Round 7. The series first visited the 3.93km track during the inaugural 2005-06 season, Sean McIntosh racing for Canada on that occasion, scoring a ninth place Sprint race finish before a wishbone failure denied him a points haul in the Feature.

Toronto's James Hinchcliffe was charged with national duty this time round but the weekend proved to be an equally frustrating affair for Canada. Qualifying outside of the top-ten for the first time in his brief A1GP career, Hinchcliffe would start the Sprint race 11th -- eventually finishing in a lackluster 13th place. The real drama came at the start of the Feature race when the 20-year-old was tagged by Christian Murchison's Singapore entry heading into Turn 4. Hinchcliffe was pitched into a heart-stopping barrel roll, a wild ride that ended with the Canadian rookie parked upside down in the gravel trap. Thankfully emerging unscathed from the incident, James' race was over all too soon!

Canada Driver Reflection, James Hinchcliffe:

"We'd been really looking forward to a good result in Australia! The track looked like it should suit my style of driving but ultimately we really struggled with set-up all weekend long. It wasn't until we got to qualifying that we decided to look at trying something different and as soon as we did we found some more pace. We were on for a top-five qualifying slot based on our first two runs but I was blocked later in the session and we had to deal with our first race start outside the top-ten.

"The Sprint race was a bit of a non-event, I avoided some accidents through the first turns but lost a couple of spots in the process as well. We then had to face up to starting the Feature down in 13th which always has the potential to lead to incidents. I ended up having contact on the first lap which saw me barrel-rolling spectacularly out of the race. Even though it had been a difficult weekend, it was frustrating to end it like that as we had shown some promise early on in qualifying and had been looking forward to scoring some more points."

Round 8 -- Durban Street Course, South Africa, Sunday 25th February 2007

Durban's stunning beach-side 3.28km temporary street circuit once again proved to be a highlight of the A1GP season, as it had been the year before when a sell-out crowd, and more, packed the grandstands and roof tops to check out the competing nations battling wheel-to-wheel just inches off the concrete barriers and wire fences lining the track.

The home favorites, A1 Team South Africa, already boasted a win from the 2006-07 season courtesy of Adrian Zaugg's stunning form in the Sprint race at Zandvoort but a repeat performance never looked likely with the German entry sweeping the podium once again, Nico Hulkenberg collecting his fifth and sixth straight wins of 2007 to take his season tally to eight.

South Africa saw A1 Team Canada introduce 17-year-old rookie Kevin Lacroix to A1GP, the 2006 Star Mazda Series runner-up from Quebec making his weekend debut participating in Friday morning's 'Rookie-Only' session. Enjoying a solid first outing, posting the 14th fastest lap time, Lacroix then handed driving duties over to James Hinchcliffe for the rest of the weekend.

Unfortunately for all concerned, while other teams were free to soak up the atmosphere and ambience of Durban, A1 Team Canada was left pondering the mystery of a lack of pace with James qualifying down in 20th for Sunday's Sprint race. A more promising Sprint run fired James up the order for the Feature race, only for the Ontario-native to retire on the opening lap following contact and a mechanical failure. A forgettable weekend all round for the Canadian outfit!

Canada Driver Reflection, James Hinchcliffe:

"From my barrel roll in Australia onwards the rest of my season was one big giant frustration, the South African event a continuation of that. Again, we really struggled with our pace all weekend and I made a small mistake in qualifying which helped relegate us further towards the back end of the grid. We knew after that that Sunday would be a long day but I made up seven spots in the Sprint race to give us a 13th place grid slot for the Feature event.

"That was encouraging as we knew we had found some race pace which meant that if we could just stay consistent and clean in the Feature we could probably bring home some points for our troubles. Unfortunately on the first lap of the race I had some issues, starting with getting tapped at the first corner but that wasn't too big a deal, but a couple of corners later something at the back of the car just let go and that was the end of our race. Given the successes we'd been having earlier in the year it was tough to have back-to-back rounds with nothing to show. We kept our heads high and if anything we were more motivated by the situation to try and turn things around."

Round 9 -- Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico, Sunday 25th March 2007

Mexico City played host to James Hinchcliffe's final appearance for Canada in the 2006-07 A1GP season with Kevin Lacroix once again fulfilling rookie duties on the Friday morning. After the disappointments of Australia and South Africa, where the team failed to score, a stronger showing was expected in Mexico with the 4.42km Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, the former home of the Mexican Grand Prix, a new track to virtually the entire A1GP field.

Despite the optimism within the team, Friday's first outings on track heralded the beginning of another long weekend for the Canadian crew. Languishing at the lower end of the timesheets, a lack of pace was once again blighting performances, something the team found hard to swallow given their early season competitiveness. Unable to root out the cause, James was left a disappointing 19th on the grid for the Mexican Sprint race and while he once again climbed to take his third straight 13th place Sprint finish, gear-selection problems and oversteer hindered any further hopes of progress.

Things didn't get much better in the Feature race, James signing off on this season's A1GP endeavors with a frustrating 15th place finish at the checkered. The weekend saw Malaysia collect its third win of the season in the Sprint race while Great Britain finally recorded its first A1GP victory in the Feature.

Canada Driver Reflection, James Hinchcliffe:

"Mexico felt like a bit of a disaster to be honest. Once again we just didn't seem to have the outright pace to produce the kind of performances we'd been used to through the first part of the season. It was probably the toughest weekend of the whole season for me personally speaking. We knew there had to be something more to our sudden lack of form, there was something fundamentally missing that was holding us back but we just couldn't pin point it.

"If the car's just a little bit off on a track that's as long and as technical as the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez the time really starts to add up. Our gap to the pace-setters over a single lap was huge. It was frustrating as it was my last race of the season with the team and I didn't want to end it like that, it certainly was tough. We'd hoped for better and we were just left disappointed. We knew we could be fast and we'd been right up there at the beginning of the season. I think we just felt that we didn't get the opportunity to prove to people how well we could perform and how fast we could be!"

-credit: team canada

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About this article
Series A1GP
Drivers Kevin Lacroix , Adrian Zaugg , James Hinchcliffe , Christian Murchison , Nico Hulkenberg