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Halliday hyped up for new season

NEWS STORY
28/09/2006

New Zealand driver Matt Halliday is keen to start the second season of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport in the same vein as the inaugural season.

Halliday surprised in the first ever A1GP race this time last year when he raced to 3rd place in the Sprint Race. Although New Zealand went on to finish a highly credible 4th in the championship, Halliday's effort at Brand's Hatch was the team's sole podium finish of the season.

The Black Beauty driver and the New Zealand team headed to the Netherlands overnight NZ time to prepare for this weekend's opening round at Zandvoort with one goal – more podium finishes, especially spots on the top step.

"There are so many areas as a team and as a driver that we can do better," Halliday said. "Last year was the first time I'd raced in single-seaters for two years. I'm loath to make predictions, but we definitely want to run up the front more consistently and take our whole campaign up a notch. And, personally, I'd like to win a round or three."

Halliday says he's raring to go and the past week out of the spotlight in London had been a welcome respite after a hectic winter competing in Asia and Australia.

"I've been training hard – gym work, running and some swimming – to help get over a shoulder injury picked up in a V8 Supercar," Halliday said.

"Everything is coming together really well and I've quickly established a good relationship with Super Nova, our new racing team."

Halliday believes David Sears and his team at Super Nova Racing can help provide the incremental improvement needed to finish more races in the top three.

"They're a top team with a great engineer and talented and knowledgeable support crew," he said. "They would be one of the best racing teams in Europe outside of Formula One and their GP2 and previous A1GP experience will be invaluable."

Halliday missed the testing session at Silverstone last month and hasn't been in the car since the final round in China earlier this year. But he says the Shanghai finale "seems just like yesterday" and he is sure he'll quickly reacquaint himself with the Lola single-seater.

"I've been racing a similar car in Asia, a Formula Renault V6, as well as competing in V8 Supercars for the endurance races in Australia. I've also been training hard and I'm sure I'll settle straight back in."

A lack of knowledge about the Zandvoort circuit isn't troubling the 27-year-old either.

"I've never driven there before, so it will be one of the hardest races of the season for me. But it's not a big problem. I hadn't raced at a number of the tracks we competed on last year, but you learn quickly and get into a groove as fast as you can."

The surprise absence of the Netherlands' star driver Jos Verstappen this weekend will be a boost for the other teams, but Halliday says the Dutch will still be tough to beat in front of their vociferous home fans.

He believes the championship frontrunners will be similar to last year, where France, Switzerland and Great Britain finished in the top three.

"We'll be striving to put New Zealand at the top and I think there are six or seven teams with a strong chance of winning, including France , Brazil, Great Britain, the Swiss, the Netherlands and Germany."

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