Zhuhai: Sunday Quotes



A disappointed A1 Team Brasil leaves the Zhuhai International Circuit tonight as it comes away empty-handed from round four of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport. In the sprint race Sergio Jimenez finished 18th after being hit on the first lap, causing an unscheduled pitstop and nosecone change. There was further disappointment in the feature race when Sergio was hit again on the first lap, forcing him to retire due to accident damage.

Sergio had a disappointing sprint race in terms of a result after he was forced into an unscheduled pitstop. However, the Team was able to get some good information from the 14 laps. On turn three of the first lap following the rolling start, Sergio was tapped from behind which forced him to touch Team South Africa. RSA's Adrian Zaugg's car tipped sideways, causing Sergio and Team Australia to stop and damaging both nosecones. Following a replacement nose in the pits, Sergio rejoined the track a lap down, but proved the speed of the car by setting the third fastest lap time, just a tenth off of Switzerland's fastest lap.

In a feature race of high attrition, Team Brasil became one of the earliest victims of retirement when Sergio was hit from behind by Team Canada on turn one of lap one. Although Sergio was able to bring the car into the pits with visible front wing and left sidepod damage, it was the suspension damage that forced the Team into early retirement.

As the Team was unable to score points today, it drops to eleventh in the championship with 22 points. A1 Team Brasil will be aiming for a strong points haul at the next round in Taupo, New Zealand, which takes place on Sunday 20 January.

Sergio Jimenez: Sprint race: "There were a lot of cars close on that corner and unfortunately the Netherlands just touched me and I tapped South Africa. There wasn't anywhere to go and then I was a lap behind because I had to make the pitstop to change the nose. It was good for us to see where the car was at and how the brakes were performing. We were very quick in the race, with the third fastest lap time, so it was disappointing."

Feature Race: "I did a very good start and passed two cars. I was in the middle to the inside and aiming to overtake one more car on the corner. When I started to do the turn Canada, who had a very bad start, hit me from behind. He wanted to win the race on the first corner. The race is long so if you start bad you can try to recover, the race is not decided in the first corner. It's a real shame because we had a very, very good car and what affected us badly this weekend were the problems in qualifying with the brakes. We could easily have been in the top five today."

Emerson Fittipaldi, Team Principal: "We are very disappointed because we lost the two races due to bad driving, one in turn three and the other in turn one. It's a shame that we qualified where we did - that cost us because there was bad driving behind. The Canadian driver in the second race was driving completely over the limit and was out of control, and that's a shame. But we will move on to Taupo in January, and that will be a good race for us."


A weekend that initially promised much for A1 Team Canada ultimately failed to live up to its billing on Sunday as Robert Wickens left Round 4 of the 2007-08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, at China's Zhuhai International Circuit, with a 15th place Sprint finish and a second-straight Feature race retirement.

Second fastest on the timesheets on Friday, Canada looked like being a front-runner at the 4.30km Chinese track, not least as the Team arrived off the back of its first podium finish at the previous round in Malaysia. Frustrated not to score and build on that momentum in Zhuhai, Canada heads into the Christmas break 13th in the Nations Standings, on 10 points, while leaders Switzerland hold a commanding 19 point advantage over former champions France (79-60).

Sunday morning's 13-lap Sprint race saw Wickens take the rolling start tenth on the grid, the 18-year-old's second top-ten Sprint start having qualified a season's-high of fifth last month in Malaysia. A solid first lap was marred by contact from France's Loic Duval on the exit of Turn 7. While New Zealand and The Netherlands slipped by in the process, a safety car period would bunch the field back up allowing Wickens to pass Jonny Reid in the Kiwi entry at the re-start.

With four laps remaining contact between Reid and Wickens at Turn 14 left the Canadian languishing outside the points, the Toronto-native eventually taking the checkered flag down in 15th. Germany's Michael Ammermüller celebrated the Sprint win, the rookie driver joined on the podium by Champ Car World Series racer Neel Jani, for Switzerland, and China's own Congfu Cheng in third.

A sluggish start from the sixth row in the afternoon's Feature race proved to be problematic for Wickens. Attempting to make up ground on the run to the first turn, the teenager soon played his part in a four-car incident. Locking up on the approach, Robert ran onto the grass and into the back of Adam Khan's Pakistani entry. While he nursed the stricken car back to the pits for a replacement nose, on his exit a hose from the left hand radiator worked itself loose.

Wickens returned to the pits and while the Team was keen to attempt repairs and go for the point on offer for fastest lap of the race, the engine had overheated leading to another frustrating retirement just four laps into proceedings. Narain Karthikeyan took India's maiden A1GP triumph in the Feature, the ex-F1 driver followed on the podium by New Zealand's Reid and South Africa's Adrian Zaugg.

"I didn't give it enough rpm at the beginning so got off the line very poorly," Wickens reflected post-Feature. "From there I got in behind Pakistan, and going into the first corner, when I braked I had some rear brake lock-up and basically I had to go to the inside to avoid Pakistan and I'm not sure if he didn't see me but he pushed onto the grass on the inside and I guess you slow down when you're on the grass and I'm sorry for anyone that I made contact with. It's just too bad it happened. Things started off promisingly but we definitely didn't get the result we deserved as per normal for Canada so far this year. We're determined though and we'll come back to Taupo and just do a better job."

"It's been a tough day today," added Mark Gallagher, whose Status Grand Prix outfit runs the Canadian Team. "The Sprint incident with New Zealand really ruined that race and the accident at the start of the Feature Robert has explained. Again we've shown good flashes of pace here and with a good clean weekend, which is sure to come very soon, Canada will be back up there and in the top six!"


The A1 Team France left Zhuhai in a disappointed frame of mind, having scored only 7 points during the weekend. However, it is still in second place in the overall classification, 19 points behind Switzerland, and one in front of New Zealand.

Loïc Duval started the Sprint race from seventh on the grid and made an excellent getaway before being boxed in the first corner, losing a place. As the track was very dusty and slippery off line throughout the weekend, it was impossible to try and pass without taking huge risks, so he saw the flag in eighth position.

The Team had high hopes for the Feature race. Unfortunately, the first refuelling stop compromised its chances of a podium finish. Loïc was waved away from his pit a bit too early after a tyre change, and he suddenly found the New Zealand car on his left in the pit lane. He then ran over one of the hoses held by a mechanic from the United States Team, which resulted in a fall for the latter, luckily without consequences. Loïc was given a drive-through penalty because of this incident and despite losing a lot of time, he managed to fight his way back up to seventh place.

The aim is now to reduce the gap between A1 Team France and Switzerland in the next round of the championship on the Taupo circuit in New Zealand on 18th January.

Olivier Panis, sporting director: "On paper, the Zhuhai circuit seemed to offer good overtaking opportunities. Unfortunately, it remained very dirty throughout the weekend and it was virtually impossible to attempt anything. So we really could do nothing in the Sprint race as we started from too far back on the grid. In the Feature event, we looked on course for a podium finish until we were penalised. That kind of thing happens, and we managed to limit the damage by finishing seventh. What's reassuring is that we're still as quick as ever. Our weekend's performance is due to racing incidents which did not play in our favour."

Loïc Duval, driver: "This weekend Lady Luck didn't smile on us! I made a good start in the Sprint race but I was boxed in by the British car in the first corner. I had to lift off and India took advantage of this to nip past. In the second event the first refuelling stop cost us a rostrum finish. Towards the end I had to nurse the car as the gearbox was beginning to act up. Despite this, I missed out on the fastest lap by a tenth of a second, which shows just how quick we are. Finally, our weekend's performance was not in keeping with our hopes, but we managed to score a few points. We're still second overall and last year we had a good race on the Taupo circuit. Between now and then we'll have to improve our refuelling procedures. I'd like to thank the mechanics and the Team, which gave me a good car for the whole weekend."


Willi Weber's A1 Team Germany celebrated its tenth overall victory in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport during the fourth round of the 2007/2008 season held at Zhuhai in the People's Republic of China. Michael Ammermüller from Pocking who only contested his second A1GP race weekend for A1 Team Germany, the reigning champion of the series, won the sprint race ahead of Switzerland. In the feature race, the German Team finished fourth.

Having claimed pole position for the sprint race in qualifying, the 21-year old Bavarian racing driver defended first position in the sprint from lights to flag. Swiss driver Neel Jani had to settle for second place as he didn't find a way past the German on the 4.3 kilometre circuit in the South Chinese Province of Guangdong.

The feature race kicked off from fifth place for Michael Ammermüller. In the first corner, a battle with A1 Team France forced the German A1GP car into the gravel and bend the steering slightly. Michael Ammermüller finished the first lap on ninth position. On lap eight, A1 Team China squeezed the German car which was taken to the grass. After these incidents, the strategy chosen by David Sears Motorsport Team which runs the German car paid off perfectly. Thanks to two efficient and quick pit stops, A1 Team Germany was back on fourth place on the track. Even gearbox troubles towards the end of the race didn't prevent Michael Ammermüller to take fourth and to secure valuable points for the Team. The reigning champion Team scored 23 points this weekend and climbed from eleventh to eighth in the standings.

Michael Ammermüller: "My first win in A1GP feels really sweet. Now a difficult year has come to a good end – after all, it's my first win in 2007. The sprint race was good and the car was simply excellent. Neel Jani had about the same speed but he couldn't pass me. In the feature race, my start was okay. But I got pushed off the track twice in the course of the race. Already after the lap 1 incident, my steering was slightly bent. I had to cope with it whilst the David Sears Motorsport crew did an excellent job, both in terms of strategy and the actual pit stops which were great. I was on fourth place and I tried to attack Adrian Zaugg from South Africa, but in the last few laps, the gearbox wouldn't change from second to third gear properly so I had to activate the paddles twice to engage the correct gear. Nonetheless, my second A1GP weekend was good when compared to the disappointment at Sepang last time. I hope we can fight for the top positions next time again."

Willi Weber: "I'm very happy. Michael Ammermüller has broken his duck and won his first A1GP race with us. His career is back on track and he scored his first personal win of the season. I rate him as a highly talented guy who has deserved his chance in international motorsport. That's why he will continue to race for A1 Team Germany. It would have been great to score another podium finish in the feature race after his win in the sprint race, but he was prevented from doing so. The incidents cost him several positions, and the gearbox gremlins didn't help his cause either. He kept calm and judged his chances realistically. He didn't provoke any unnecessary risks. His time will come and if he will have an incident-free race next time, he will be right up there with the top contenders again."

Great Britain

Oliver Jarvis gained further valuable points for A1 Team GBR in both races at the first ever A1GP World Cup of Motorsport event to be held in Zhuhai International Circuit, keeping the Team in the Championship hunt in China.

Off the rolling start in the Sprint Race, Olly found himself boxed in behind the leaders and had to brake early causing him to lose a place to the Czech Republic. Proceedings were then temporarily halted by an incident further down the field at Turn 4 which brought out the Safety Car. With 11 laps to go the race resumed but with the British Team trapped between attacking and defending they couldn't make any further impression in such a short race so remained in sixth taking some good championship points.

Olly made a fantastic start from second on the grid in the Feature Race to take the lead from Switzerland and control the pack until the first round of stops. Problems struck in the pit stop as the rear wheels were spinning before the next set of tyres were on and the Team lost time which as a result dropped them down three places. After South Africa found a way past the young Brit, he was P6 but gained a position when France was called in for a drive through penalty. Olly pushed hard but on the second stop was also slowed following damage caused during the first pit-stop. However, on new tyres in the final stint he was the quickest car on track and claimed fastest lap, and with it another valuable point, showing the clear pace the car had.

After two solid points finishes at Zhuhai the Team move up the points table to fourth as they head into the Christmas break and will be looking to continue making their way up the championship ladder in the New Year.

Oliver Jarvis: "We lost a place at the start of the Sprint Race as I had to brake early because of the cars in front and Tomas Enge (CZE) just managed to carry a little bit more speed around the outside. It was quite a difficult race to get close – every time I tried to make a move on Czech Republic I then had to defend from India behind. Its not exactly were we want to be but it was good to get some points on the board ahead of the Feature race. The Feature was an extremely disappointing result though. We had the pace and led the first stint, but the two pit stops didn't quite go our way. Its unfortunate but once again we showed that we were very quick and when the luck goes our way again we'll start winning some races."

Katie Clements, Team Principal: "Today's results didn't do justice to our performance – Great Britain was the quickest car out there but unfortunately problems in the pit-stops denied us of a certain podium. However we have moved up the Championship table and will come back in 2008 to challenge the current top three."


Adam Carroll continued Belmayne A1 Team Ireland point- scoring form with a fourth place Sprint finish in round four of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport at the series' first ever visit to the Zhuhai International Circuit today.

Adam made a great start to the Sprint race from P3, challenging second-placed Switzerland until an incident at Turn 4 brought out the Safety Car and his challenge was halted forcing everyone to fall into line until Lap 4. On the re-start Adam pushed hard but with lack of grip couldn't hang on to the leading duo. By mid race distance he came under increasing pressure from China, who with the support of their home crowd behind them found a way past and with Adam still struggling with lack of grip and understeer, he was in no position to defend. He finished a strong fourth gaining valuable points and helping the team move up the championship standings but the team were looking for improvements from race two.

Ireland made a good start in the Feature Race but unfortunately got caught up in an incident going into Turn 1 with Adam being clipped from behind and getting stuck out on track. He got going to catch onto the pack, now bunched behind the Safety Car, and when everything settled down was only in P16 so ultimately had only lost three places from the start. After a good restart and some fantastically slick team work in the first pit-stop, Adam was back up to an incredible P8 and looking to challenge Germany up ahead when he radioed in that he felt a problem with the left rear. He immediately pitted and the team discovered a bent wishbone, damage sustained from the first lap collision. The team continued to work hard and fixed the problem to get Ireland back out in an attempt to gain a point for fastest lap which they only just missed by one hundredth of a second. The speed was there all weekend but the results didn't reflect the team work. With further points on the board the team go into the Christmas break in positive spirit now 7th in the championship, only 9 points off 4th, and will be back ready to challenge in 2008 in New Zealand.

Adam Carroll: "Fourth place was a good points finish but the pace just wasn't there for the podium. China had a lot more pace and their car just arrived alongside me, I didn't even know he was there! When someone's so close behind you and you look in your mirrors you can't see anything. When someone has that much of an advantage on you you're pretty much a sitting duck and I couldn't even defend.

"It was unfortunate in the Feature Race because even though we started 13th, then got spun around, then stalled and then re-started we still got back into contention! We were definitely quick enough and after the first pit stops we were right behind those who ended fourth and fifth so it's just frustrating as it was a good opportunity to score some strong points, but we'll be back fighting in New Zealand."

Dan Walmsley, Race Engineer: "The Sprint Race we were a little frustrated to drop from third to fourth but we're happy to have finished in the points again. We didn't have the pace we expected but we got to the bottom of the problem and at the end of season those points could be decisive but all in all and acceptable result. We did a lot of work between the two races to get the set up right for the Feature Race, went in with a lot of confidence that we had the car underneath us on raw pace to challenge for the top three. We got tapped into a spin at Turn 1 but Adam made a great recovery. After the first round of pit stops we stayed out longer to try and pass a few people and the guys did a great job in the stop helping us jump from P13 to P10. However, 8 laps before second pit window Adam had to pit due to a mechanical failure at the rear which we found out to be a bent wishbone caused by the incident at the first turn. We replaced it in an attempt to get fastest lap but unfortunately we didn't quite string it together and ended up missing it by 1 hundredth of a second. We've had a day of mixed fortunes with a positive Sprint race and inting Feature Race but we're looking forward to the New Year and hopefully some new luck."

Mark Gallagher, Team Principal: "It was a good result in the Sprint Race and a decent haul of points adds to continuing our consistent record. It's a shame Adam couldn't hold onto third place but the performance in the car was clearly not there. In the Feature race, Adam didn't do anything other than drive very well and the team did a superb job but unfortunately circumstances outside our control ruined it for us. It's a shame but that happens in racing and the team should be congratulated on another really strong weekend. They worked hard and we're knocking of regular podiums all the time."


A1 Team Lebanon crept closer to a top ten points finish in Zhuhai, China at the fourth round of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport today. A 13th place finish in the Feature race after a retirement in the Sprint race were the spoils for the battling Lebanese car in the two events.

The Sprint race rolling start saw the pack of A1GP cars rush down to the first corner with five cars abreast on the front straight as the drivers battled for position. Alajajian was in the thick of the field, but his worst fears were met when three cars ahead clashed, blocking the track and forcing the young Australian-Lebanese driver to take avoiding action. He picked his way through, but was hit from behind, punting him off the track and into a spin, so that he was stuck in the gravel and unable to continue the race.

"It was a shame that we didn't get the Sprint race distance under our belt," said Alajajian, "but we just got caught up with other driver's accidents; there was just nothing we could do about it. It makes it a bit tougher for the Feature race, not having the data from a long run, and particularly tyre wear and brake pad integrity. We'll try and do better in the Feature event."

The start of the Feature race was another clamour of cars all pushing hard to reach the first corner first. The Lebanon car was jostling for position and gaining ground in the opening lap and with others falling victim to the battle, Alajajian emerged in 13th place after the first lap had been completed. The first pitstop saw a swapping of positions up and down the grid, with the Lebanese car losing out and dropping to 12th. He kept pushing on and lapping consistently, while capitalising on other cars misfortunes and moving up to 10th by lap 15. A small error with a slide off the track ended with a spin across the grass as the race progressed. Although losing valuable time, he recovered to lie in 13th place and maintained this position through much of the race.

Alajajian said after the race, "I've learned from this race and that's been a big positive. Coping with excessive tyre degradation and hard brakes, as well as changing my driving style to suit the conditions have all been new learning experiences in this race. We were close to reaching our goal of a top ten finish and I'm sorry that I couldn't help make that happen today, but we're getting closer."

Luke Craft, A1 Team Lebanon Team Principal, reviewed the day saying, "We weren't given a chance to show our improvement in the first of the day's races and we missed not giving Chris more track time ahead of the main Feature race, but he did drive well. In the second race, it was running wide on one corner, a small error, which had bigger consequences as it pushed us out of a points- paying finish. That's how tough and close A1GP racing is. We're definitely starting to knock on the door of that elusive top ten position and we're feeling very positive as we head to the Southern Hemisphere in the New Year."


An eighth place start for A1 Team Malaysia in the Feature race at the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, Zhuhai China offered the Team the promise of a strong points finish, but instead it was intense disappointment for the Team after two retirements in the races today. Yoong and the Malaysian Team were the innocent victims of other drivers' incidents in both the Sprint and Feature races.

They suffered their first misfortune in the Sprint race, with the race less than a lap underway. At the rolling start Yoong diced for position as the pack rushed down to the first corner and was quickly gaining places, but his improvement was short-lived. A clash of cars ahead blocked the racetrack and although the experienced Malaysian driver took avoiding action he picked up a rear tyre puncture as one of his rivals clipped the back of his car. Yoong limped back to the pits, but the Malaysian crew found the car had sustained damage which needed immediate repair which precluded him from returning to the race.

"I was just an innocent victim," said Yoong of the incident. "It's always the risk that you have when you start further back and today we were unlucky enough to be caught out by starting on the ninth row. There's quite a lot of damage to the car and the guys are going to have their work cut out getting the Malaysian car repaired in time for the Feature race grid."

The crew worked fast and diligently in the break between the two races and the striking yellow car of Malaysia was ready for the start of the Feature race with minutes to spare.

The standing start grid was formed and when the red lights went out the cars powered off the line and down to the first corner. Three cars collided as they went through the first few corners, with all drivers battling hard. Sadly it was another rough day for the Malaysian Team, with a hard side swipe from the New Zealand car pushing Yoong off track, into a fast slide across the track and spinning into the barriers, causing extensive damage to the Malaysian car and putting them out of the race.

Yoong said after the race, "I can't believe how much bad luck we've had this weekend. It's just been one thing after another. I can only hope it's all come at once and that there won't be any more. I am particularly upset with Jonny Reid. Having worked so hard to be ready for the Feature race, I feel we were taken off the circuit unnecessarily by the NZL driver and this is not the first time. It seems that he was driving under such intense pressure that he made an unacceptable move, with disastrous consequences for us. It's a difficult times like this that you have to be strong and we are at A1 Team Malaysia. Watch out Taupo, we'll be back out with renewed vigour to get those points we deserve."

Jack Cunningham, Chief Executive A1 Team Malaysia, said after the Zhuhai event, "We're all bitterly disappointed with the outcome of this weekend. Everyone in the Team has pulled out all the stops today after being the unwitting victim of a first lap incident in the sprint race. Having worked so hard to be ready for the Feature race, it's even tougher to take a second hit. At these times we need to dig deep, keep our spirits high and move on, and that's exactly what we shall do. We will certainly be back in action at Taupo with a resolve to show the form we know we have within us."


Just as it seemed like A1 Team Netherlands was on its way to take sporting revenge for a poor qualifying for the Feature race in Zhuhai bad luck struck the Team mercilessly.

Jeroen Bleekemolen was about to come in for the first mandatory pitstop something in the rear suspension snapped inside the car and A1 Team Netherlands was forced to retire.

A1 Team Netherlands started the day with two points in the Feature race, where A1 Team Netherlands finished in ninth. From eighth on the grid Bleekemolen had a good start and immediately made up some places. Unfortunately he was pushed to the outside by Tomas Enge of the Czech Republic and lost ground again. Overtaking proved to be difficult on the narrow and slow circuit and Bleekemolen was unable to move further forward.

From eighteenth on the Feature race grid in the afternoon Bleekemolen did what he had set out to day beforehand, make up many places during the opening laps. Already in the first lap A1 Team Netherlands climbed to tenth, after Bleekemolen was able to stay out of the chaos because of which amongst others Brazil, Malaysia and Italy retired. A1 Team Netherlands was on the pace and closing in on Germany. The Team was already waiting to execute the pitstop when right at the pit lane entry Bleekemolen felt something snap. The front wheel lifted and Jeroen had to use all his driving skills to avoid spinning across the track. He managed to drive the straight but was forced to park his car next to the track at the end of the pitlane. In a very spectacular race, which saw favourites like Switzerland and Great Britain drop back from the lead after problems at the pitstops and where other Teams had their share of problems as well, the victory went surprisingly to India, followed by New Zealand and South Africa.

Jeroen Bleekemolen; "This is a big deception. Something broke on the car, a part of the rear suspension. In the Feature race we had a car that was good enough to take home many points. You never know how far you can go coming from eighteenth on the grid, but we were already into tenth and those in front of me I would almost certainly have beaten. We could have easily finished inside the top five with good pitstops and maybe even have finished on the podium. Coming from eighteenth that is off course really good. We thought to have left our problems of yesterday behind us with the competitive car today. It has been a bad weekend, but it looked like we were going to make up for it all. We totally went for it. Then it is a big shame that it ends like this. In the Sprint race we were on the pace as well, I had a good start. Then I was pushed to the outside and lost a few places again. Overtaking from ninth just was very difficult, but we were quick enough to move forward. There was not much more I could do though."

Jan Lammers; "First I want to say that Jeroen was going awfully well. We were really competing in this race. I even think that we could have been fighting for the podium, especially if you look at the others that we were fighting at that time. We were going great and were rectifying our poor qualifying. Something on the suspension broke, that is just bad luck. It happens. But fortunately India won, with France and Switzerland something went wrong on their pitstops. The results of other countries is a bit of damage control for us as far as loosing points is concerned. Off course it is a shame, this could have gone our way. Top six without a doubt, with even the podium being a possibility. Too bad. We knew it was going to be tough after qualifying. We were able to cope with this mentally, both Jeroen and the car went very well. It just wasn't our weekend, that's the way it goes and we have to accept it." After four out of ten races A1 Team Netherlands is in sixth, with 41 points. Switzerland still leads the Championship.

New Zealand

Black Beauty is a nose away from second place in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport after a stunning rearguard effort at the fourth round in Zhuhai, China.

After qualifying well down the pack in 13th for the Sprint Race, Kiwi driver Jonny Reid salvaged a point by sneaking into 10 th place. But he showed real class and skill in leap-frogging from 10th on the grid to finish runner-up to India in the Feature Race.

Switzerland still tops the overall points table with 79 points, 19 clear of second placed France, but New Zealand is now just one point further adrift on 59 after what A1 Team.NZL spokesman Bob McMurray calls a "gutsy" drive by Reid.

"It was amazing, he truly did drive like he stole it," McMurray said. "He was so aggressive and determined, fortune must have favoured the brave because it was an incredibly courageous effort.

"This was motor racing at its best on an unforgiving circuit that punishes the slightest of errors. Factor in two outstanding pit stops and the Team can be hugely pleased with their fightback for a superb second.

"All round it was a great Team performance. Congratulations to India for their first ever race win. We appreciate how hard you had to work for that."

In the earlier Sprint Race five of the 22 cars were involved in a first lap collision, Australia, Brazil and South Africa tangling at turn four and Lebanon running off into the gravel, bringing out the safety car for three laps. Malaysia was forced out of the action due to a puncture sustained from running over debris caused by the incident.

The A1GP championship takes a five-week break before streaking into Lake Taupo for Round 5, the first event of 2008.

"What a fabulous precursor to our home race," McMurray said. "Jonny has shown he's determined to do well and…wow…we really are so proud of him."


The A1GP Zhuhai, China provided some action packed racing today, as A1 Team Pakistan raced for glory in the fourth round of the 2007/08 season. Following a difficult qualifying session yesterday, A1 Team Pakistan driver Adam Khan made up several places to finish 14th in both the Sprint and Feature races.

As the lights went out for A1GP's first Sprint race at the Zhuhai International Circuit, Khan made a good start, diving down the outside as the 22 cars hurtled towards the first corner. Filing around the first corner in safety, an incident at the back of the field on the second corner resulted in a group of cars crashing. Picking his way carefully around the unfolding melee without losing position, Khan emerged in 15th place.

As many more experience drivers clashed and suffered the consequences, Khan kept the Pakistan car on track and by lap 11 was up to 14th, the position he would take at the chequered flag.

After a colourful opening ceremony watched by an enthusiastic local crowd, the 22 A1GP cars took their positions for the 70 minute Feature race. Featuring a standing start, Khan made a stunning start, passing the cars of the Czech Republic and Lebanon. However, as the cars thundered towards the tight first corner, Khan was left with no where to go, was forced onto the grass and was hit by another car. With a missing front wing and severe damage to the bodywork, Khan limped back to the pits for a new nose cone and front wing.

Emerging from the pits in 18th place and despite the Team's earlier problems, Khan continued to race hard, passing the Portuguese car in a great move at the first corner on lap 6. As various Teams crashed off track, Khan kept pushing, and was up to 14th by lap 23.

The Team made their second mandatory pit stop on lap 32, and emerged in 14th with 13 laps to go. Driving a solitary race from there to the end, Khan maintained his position to cross the finish line.

Reflecting on the Feature race, Khan said, "I had a great start, unfortunately there was a bit of action mid-field, and two cars spun ahead of me. I had to take avoiding action, and was forced onto the grass, and then I think it was Australia who cut right across me and took off the front wing. By the time I had stopped for a new nose cone, I was already a lap behind, so the race was really over by then. Its just luck of the draw really - that's racing. At least my pace was there; we were putting in competitive laps towards the end of the race. I think in future races, we need to focus on qualifying and start higher up the grid. Then we'll be able to get the results rather than just talk about them!"

A1 Team Seat holder Arif Husain added, "Zhuhai has put on a fantastic show as we expected, with the A1GP cars providing some incredibly exciting racing. Unfortunately, we were a little too close to the action in the Feature race, and the damage done to the car on the first lap undoubtedly ruined any chances of a good finish. Nevertheless, the Team are continuing to improve and Adam showed good pace today. We'll be building on this progress in New Zealand where hopefully we will move further up the finishing order."

South Africa

It was a great day for the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport with India winning an exciting and closely contested feature race in round four of this unique motor racing series that pits nation against nation in identical cars. New Zealand was second and South Africa third.

Narain Karthikeyan, who became India's first Formula 1 driver in 2005, gave his vast nation - better known for its cricket than its motor racing - its first ever A1GP victory after starting from third on the grid. Championship leaders A1 Team Switzerland, with Neel Jani at the wheel, appeared headed for another win after starting the race from pole position, but problems with the first of the two mandatory pit stops saw India take a lead it was not to surrender, while Switzerland dropped back to finish sixth at the finish of the 70-minute race.

New Zealand's Jonny Reid did well to recover from 10th on the grid to take the runner-up spot ahead of a resurgent South Africa, with 21-year-old Adrian Zaugg scoring his third podium position after finishing first and second in the first two races of the 2007/08 season at Zandvoort in Holland in September.

Zaugg, disappointed after being knocked out of the earlier sprint race in a first lap incident involving three cars, started ninth on the grid for the feature race and was up to fourth behind Switzerland, India and New Zealand when the cars came in for the first pit stop. Two excellent pit stops by A1 Team South Africa and some aggressive and controlled driving by Zaugg saw the distinctively liveried Vulindlela score valuable points to keep South Africa fifth in the championship, 32 behind leader Switzerland and just one behind fourth-placed Great Britain.

Zaugg fought off a determined challenge from sprint race winner Michael Ammermuller of A1 Team Germany, producing one of the best drives of his career. His passing manoeuvres against USA (Jonathan Summerton) in the opening laps and Great Britain (Oliver Jarvis) into turn 14 on lap 15 were of the highest quality, showing commitment and courage.

A1 Team France, with whom South Africa shares a technical partnership, was on track for a third place finish when a drive through penalty for a pit stop infringement dropped Loic Duval back to seventh at the finish.

Germany won the 20-minute sprint race on Sunday morning from pole position ahead of Switzerland (to give rookie Ammermuller his first win of the season), China (Congfu Chen's best result so far, delighting his home crowd), Ireland (Adam Carroll), Czech Republic (Tomas Enge) and Great Britain.

"It was very close," said an elated Zaugg after the race. "I passed quite a few people early in the race and had to defend hard towards the end against Team Germany. Michael was very fair. It was not physically difficult, but you had to focus and keep up the concentration."

Mike Carroll, general manager of A1 Team South Africa, paid tribute to his driver and Team. "This was the result we were looking for heading into the four-week Christmas break before the next round at Taupo in New Zealand in January. Adrian drove brilliantly. He looked after the car and defended his position on the track with great skill and commitment against Team Germany. The Team did a great job of preparing the car for the two races after our disappointing performance in practice and qualifying. We needed a good result today and it will give us the confidence to build on this as we approach the South African round of the series in Durban in February," said Carroll.


At the fourth round of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport at Zhuhai, A1 Team Switzerland driver Neel Jani took the second step of the podium in the 14 lap sprint race finishing just 0.601 behind Germany, bringing the Team point tally to 73 points. In the feature race, Neel started from pole but his hopes of winning came undone with a technical problem on the right rear wheel safety locking mechanism.

However, Neel recovered to score five more additional points in the feature race to take his tally for the weekend to 17 points. Switzerland thus maintains the lead in the championship, (79points) with a comfortable 19 points lead over second placed France.

Starting the sprint race from second after an exciting qualifying on Saturday, Jani kept his position and pressured Germany all the way finishing over four seconds ahead of France. Neel also clocked the first fastest lap of the race on the way to his fifth podium of the season.

In the feature race, Neel Jani started from pole, had too much wheel-spin and lost one position at the start. He then strategically took the lead of the race after the first pit stop on lap 10. At the second pit stop, Jani who had dominated the race since the first pit stop encountered an uncontrollable problem with the safety locking mechanism that was damaged when the right rear wheel was removed. The unfortunate incident delayed Neel and India's Karthikeyan took the lead of the race.

Neel Jani said: "I started from pole for the feature race, but did not have such a good start with too much wheelspin. After a first corner incident the safety car was out and came back in after four laps. At the restart our positions were unchanged. So, I started putting pressure on Jarvis. My times in the first sector always quicker than his and I was right on his tail. But I knew that the race would be long and that anything could happen.

As the pit stop window opened, we all went in for pit stops. The Team's strategy was to wait until lap 11 to go in. That paid off. My stop went very smoothly as the Team did a good job and I took the lead of the race from lap 12. I was trying to build my lead over India, France, GB and South Africa. By mid-race, I was over five seconds ahead and the car was working well. I thought I could approach the second pit-stop window relaxed on lap 26. But when I brought the car into the pits, there was an unexpected mechanical problem with the safety systems of the right rear tyre. It was a bit of heartbreak for me. I was delayed and Karthikeyan took the lead for India. I was down in eighth but managed to recover a bit. The good side is that we arrived in Zhuhai with an eight-point advantage in the championship but now the Team are leading the championship by 19 points. See you next year and happy new year!"

Max Welti, Team Principal, A1 Team Switzerland commented: "I am very pleased for the Team and the country about our results this weekend. Neel was either front-line or pole for the starts. He earned the fastest lap in the sprint race, a podium and points in the same weekend. It keeps the Team in a comfortable lead in the championship. We had great Teamwork all throughout the weekend, despite a disappointing technical problem beyond our control in the second pit stop of the main race. It's a real shame, but the positive side is that we substantially increased our advantage in the championship after the Zhuhai race even if Neel had never driven there before. Five podiums out of eight races and top 10 in eight races. What an achievement for the first part of our young Team's history and our third season."


A1 Team USA's Jonathan Summerton finished 10th in the Feature race Sunday in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport at Zhuhai International
Circuit in China, overcoming a pit stop delayed by a competitor's car sending a crewman flying into the pit lane.

A1 Team USA left-rear tire changer Orlando Ledesma was fortunate not to be injured in the incident. Summerton had pitted from sixth position and the stop had gone flawlessly. Then, A1 Team France's Loic Duval hooked the air hose to Ledesma's air gun as he drove past. Two other USA crewmen were also send tumbling and were not hurt. Summerton was forced to wait about 12 seconds for his Teammates to clear the car and re-entered the race in 14th.

"We had a good start," Summerton said. "I was able to pass one car on the outside in Turn One and ran well to the first pit stop. It was very hard to see my Teammates on the ground and one in the pit lane with cars going by. When we returned to the track, the left-rear felt like it was a little out of alignment. We got back to 10th by the second stop.

"On the third set of tires, we lost grip on the right front for several laps. It finally settled in, but we had lost ground. I drove the car hard, but we were unable to gain any positions and took 10th. It's another point for us, but we would have had more if not for the problems caused by a competitor on our pit stop."

Ledesma had several cars go past him on the pit lane. "As I was flying along the pit lane, I was just waiting for one of the oncoming cars to hit me," he said. "I got up and saw our car still there, and I shouted 'go, go!' "

Summerton finished 12th in the 13-lap Sprint on the 2.7-mile, 14-turn circuit.

"We struggled with the car quite a bit," Summerton said. "We had too much understeer and it was hard to put the power down coming off the corners. We struggled with the brakes. The track was also really dusty and it was crazy out there. I'm unhappy with the result.

"The Team had substantial changes to the setup for the Feature. We had to start the car completely full of fuel to complete the 45 laps and the handling of the "We the People' car was much better. We had a top-five within our grasp."

The 10th in the Feature was A1 Team USA's second straight and second point of the season.

"We're disappointed with 10th," A1 Team USA owner Rick Weidinger said. "We deserved a better finish in the Feature. We're thankful that Orlando (Ledesma) and our other crewmen weren't seriously hurt. Our goal was to score points in both races this weekend and we fell short of it. That's also a disappointment. The good news is we showed we could run in the top 10 in qualifying and the race. Now, we have to start doing it consistently.

"China did an excellent job in catching up to the 'We the People' car and passed us with five laps to go in their home race. The battle didn't end the way we wanted it to, but it was exciting to watch. It will be a different result the next time."

To find everything you need to know about this weekend's A1 GP event at Zhuhai - results, reports, quotes, standings and pictures - simply, click here

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Published: 16/12/2007
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