An Australian, a Spaniard, a Brazilian and an Irishman...


For a team bent on beating other nations and flying the Irish national flag on the podium, you could be forgiven for being confused at A1 Team Ireland's decision to have an Australian, a Spaniard and a Brazilian behind the wheel of their latest race entry.

The A1 Team Ireland crew have been keeping busy in a rather unique way with the core of the team contracted to run the Team Modena Aston Martin DBR9 at the Le Mans 24 Hours at the weekend.

In an operation which spanned British, Irish, French, Spanish, Brazilian and Australian involvement, the team was put together in a little over three weeks, and at the last minute A1 Team Ireland Team Principal Mark Gallagher was asked to find a third driver - and came up with none other than Nelson Piquet Junior.

The driver line-up was already rock solid with Australian David Brabham and Antonio Garcia, Spain, lined up to take part in the gruelling 24-hour drive which tests even the most experienced drivers, teams and cars.

A1 Team Ireland bosses Mark Gallagher and Mark Kershaw, CEO, agreed to provide support to Team Modena, and the team came under the watchful eye of A1 Team Ireland Team Manager Dave O'Neill, who bought the team together in a matter of weeks. The A1 Team Ireland crew rebuilt the DBR9 in under a week, took part in the testing and practice in the weeks before the race, and finished a spectacular 8th overall and 4th in the GT1 class, beaten only by two Corvettes and one of the works Aston Martins.

They expertly switched from the A1 single-seaters to the Aston Martin DBR9, and proved they could hold their own in one of the world's most gruelling races against far more experienced Le Mans 24 Hours competitors.

Mark Gallagher said: "We were keen to get involved in something really exciting during the summer and this was the perfect opportunity. The crew did an absolutely fantastic job and the race certainly gave us lots of pit stop practice! Dave O'Neill did an expert job as usual and we had a great team behind us.

"We were delighted to have such as experienced driver as David Brabham join us, and I had already been impressed with Nelson during A1. He had also driven the Aston when it was in Brazil so had experience of it in a race and I knew he would be an excellent choice."

The team are now home and looking forward to the next race with Team Modena, which will be at Nurburgring in a few weeks - and then back on track with A1 for the new season.

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Published: 23/06/2006
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