No Points but Promising Pace for Canada in Season Opener The opening round of the 2007-08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport at Circuit Park Zandvoort in The Netherlands proved frustrating for A1 Team Canada as James Hinchcliffe retired from Sunday's...
No Points but Promising Pace for Canada in Season Opener
The opening round of the 2007-08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport at Circuit Park Zandvoort in The Netherlands proved frustrating for A1 Team Canada as James Hinchcliffe retired from Sunday's Feature race having been locked in an engaging battle with A1 Team Czech Republic fighting for the tenth and final points paying finish.
Having finished 11th overall in the A1GP Nations Standings last season, Canada was looking for a strong start to the 2007-08 A1GP season but the sell-out Dutch event saw the team leave empty-handed with Hinchcliffe earlier recording a 19th place finish in the morning's 20-minute Sprint event before being classified with an 18th place finish in the 70-minute Feature following his retirement in the pit-lane with 40 laps completed -- contact with the Czech car resulting in terminal suspension damage.
Canada's challenging weekend began in Saturday's second practice with Hinchcliffe caught out early by the slippery conditions at Turn 4, the 20-year-old Toronto racer pitching the car rear-end first into the tire barriers. The team worked feverishly to make it back out in time for the afternoon's qualifying session but playing it safe in set-up, and crucially down on track time, James qualified 21st for the Sprint race before a more promising run in Feature qualifying netted the team 12th on the grid.
The weather was vastly improved for Sunday's 12-lap Sprint race but with time and traffic an issue starting so far back in the pack Hinchcliffe's hopes of a points scoring run were somewhat limited. Declaring himself satisfied with the pace of his 550bhp A1GP car, James picked up a couple of spots early on in the Sprint to hold 19th through to the checkered flag. South Africa's Adrian Zaugg, who the day before claimed both poles for Sunday's races, scored a dominant Sprint victory leading home France's Loic Duval in second and home-crowd favorite Jeroen Bleekemolen in third.
The afternoon's Feature race started with Hinchcliffe losing a couple of spots from his 12th place starting slot but the Champ Car Atlantic race winner soon clawed his way back up to 11th after taking his first mandatory pit-stop on lap 10. What followed was a race-long fight for tenth, and the final point on offer, with Erik Janis in the A1 Team Czech Republic entry. Hinchcliffe, who set the fastest lap of the race at one point, shadowed Janis relentlessly, the gap never more than a second.
Looking to pass for position at the second pit-stop window, Canada came up just short with the Janis blocking Hinchcliffe's advances at the first turn as he returned to the track. The fight intensified on lap 40 with the Canadian attacking at Turn 7 but contact with Janis' car under braking damaged Hinchcliffe's front-suspension sadly resulting in his retirement from the race. Great Britain's Oliver Jarvis claimed the Feature win from Zaugg in second and Switzerland's Neel Jani in third.
"The car was great today," Hinchcliffe reflected. "Unfortunately my mistake in yesterday's practice cost us track time which in turn affected our qualifying performances. Today I figured it was better to go for it this afternoon and grab the final point so we had something to show but the move didn't quite come off. It's frustrating to leave with nothing but we'll regroup and go for it again at Brno."
The 2007-08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport continues with Round 2 hosted at the Brno Autodrom in the Czech Republic, Friday 12th -- Sunday 14th October.