PODIUM DOUBLE FOR NEW ZEALAND IN A1GP SEASON OPENER New Zealand's Black Beauty has scored a podium double in the opening round of Season Four of the A1GP, racing at Zandvoort in The Netherlands over the weekend. 18-year-old A1GP rookie...
PODIUM DOUBLE FOR NEW ZEALAND IN A1GP SEASON OPENER
New Zealand's Black Beauty has scored a podium double in the opening round of Season Four of the A1GP, racing at Zandvoort in The Netherlands over the weekend.
18-year-old A1GP rookie Earl Bamber put in a stunning debut race weekend for New Zealand. Showing maturity beyond his years, Bamber came home in third place in the Feature Race, run in extremely wet and challenging conditions.
Proving his skill on a wet track, Bamber also took second place in Sunday morning's [European time] Sprint Race.
The Feature Race saw Bamber start in second place, until pressure from France and Malaysia shuffled him back to fourth. New Zealand elected to stay out longer before their first pit stop, and after stopping rejoined the track in third, which they held on to until the chequered flag.
A clash between Lebanon and China with just five minutes remaining in the Feature Race brought out the Safety Car. By the time the damage was cleared, the sprint to the finish was all of 500 metres as the Safety Car pulled into the pits just prior to the chequered flag being waved.
Home favourites The Netherlands looked strong early in the race, but Team France had the ultimate pace that saw them cross the line for a strong Feature Race win after running second early in the race to Malaysia.
Bamber gave Kiwi fans a brief scare with what turned out to be a harmless excursion across a gravel trap. After that minor moment, he put is head down, putting in a faultless performance that made many in the paddock ask how New Zealand can produce so many talented race-car drivers.
A number of far more experienced drivers encountered problems during the race, with just seven 'Powered by Ferrari' A1GP cars crossing the line at the end of the race.
As thought prior to the race, pitstops caught out some teams. A number of teams had problems with wheel-nuts jamming during at least one of their compulsory two stops to change tyres. New Zealand's stops were among the best, with only a minor holdup in the first wheel change.
From the outset of racing at the opening round of Season Four of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, Bamber impressed his team and counterparts in other teams alike.
Starting from second place, Bamber led Sunday morning's twenty minute Sprint Race at one stage, before slipping back to second place behind the rapid Malaysian car.
In less than one year, Bamber has made the transition from competing as part of A1 Team New Zealand's Junior Development Team in New Zealand's Toyota Racing Series, to prove himself on the world stage with a superb A1GP race debut.
New Zealand now sits third overall on the A1GP points ladder with eighteen points, four off joint leaders Malaysia and France.
It wasn't just Bamber that had New Zealand driving talent in the spotlight either. Chris van der Drift won the hotly contested Formula Master title at Monza, Italy during the weekend. The European based but New Zealand born van der Drift tested for A1 Team New Zealand in the first run of the new 'Powered by Ferrari' A1GP race-car. Van der Drift can be expected to line up for New Zealand during Season Four of the A1GP.
Black Beauty now returns to the A1GP Technical Centre at Silverstone in the UK. There New Zealand's expert technical team will prepare Black Beauty in preparation for round two of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, which races at the Chengdu circuit in south-west China on 7-9 November.
Earl Bamber, Driver
"I'm so happy for A1 Team New Zealand to open the championship in this way"
"It was pretty treacherous out there!"
"Really difficult to stay on track let alone race each other"
Colin Giltrap, A1 Team New Zealand Seat Holder
"There was nothing more we could have done, the team's had a good days work"
"Everyone is dumbfounded about Earl's impressive performance"
"They didn't know who he [Earl] was before the weekend, but they sure do now"
John Sears, Team Manager
"If we take 18 points from every round we'll be looking good by season end"
"There were no problems with the car at all during the race"
-credit: new zealand