A1 Team France has taken pole position for the Indonesian Feature race after overtaking Britain’s Robbie Kerr at the end of the first lap. The move set the order for the top three teams that was to continue throughout the race but battles further down the field gave the excited crowds the competition they came to see.

The action began as the cars left the grid with Canada being the first victim after contact with Malaysia meant they pitted at the end of the first lap and retired. New Zealand’s ‘Black Beauty’ climbed up from tenth on the grid to seventh in the first lap, starting an assault on Ireland that was to continue until Durban race winner, Dutchman Jos Verstappen, took the opportunity to split the pair on lap 15.

A1 Team Italy made an unsuccessful move on Portugal on lap four going wide in turn three and hitting the gravel. Driver, Max Busnelli, got the car back on track but lost several places which he failed to regain. Shortly after, A1 Team China pulled off the track in lap six with suspected gearbox problems.

Drivers made the most of A1 Grand Prix’s unique PowerBoost button to snatch vital places throughout the race. A1 Team Malaysia’s Alex Yoong, one of the few drivers with experience of the Sentul track, used his extra 30bhp to steal fourth place from Switzerland on lap eight but it was when Timo Scheider in the German car used his PowerBoost to take eleventh place from Indonesian hero, Ananda Mikola in front of the grandstand that the groans of disappointment were audible.

A1 Teams Brazil and South Africa finished the race several laps down after being forced to pit. South Africa went in at the end of the first lap after the bonding on the front wing failed allowing it to rub on the left tyre but after both were changed he rejoined the race only to pit again on lap three when the oil light came on. Brazil pitted at the end of lap six for a front tyre change.

Six times race winner Nicolas Lapierre said: ‘We worked hard on the car in warm up and made a few changes. It was quite difficult with the tyres, and I pushed hard to pass Robbie. Fortunately I had a really good balance on the car until the end. At the beginning of the race it was difficult to open up a gap to Robbie but as he began to defend against Salvador it got easier and by the end I was able to build up quite a big gap. I’m really pleased and just waiting for the next race.’

Speaking about difficult weather conditions at the track, Nicolas said ‘It is very difficult, the humidity is bad and it is very hot. It wasn’t too bad in this race, but the next race is long and it will be much more difficult for all the drivers and mechanics.’

Finishing second for the fifth time, Great Britain’s Robbie Kerr was unable to turn his pole position into a win in the Sprint race but was still positive about his prospects in the Feature race. ‘The car was good and qualifying was good, unfortunately it didn’t last. The balance went away throughout the race, and the car became quite difficult. There are still good possibilities for the next race, and I aim to finish at the front. We were close in this race, but not close enough.’ Second did, however, move A1 Team Great Britain up to third in the points standing.

Scoring Mexico’s first podium finish since the season opener at Brands Hatch, Salvador Duran was happy with his third place. ‘I’m very happy, and could even have finished second. The car was good although at the end there was a bit of oversteer. We are able to finish in the points again in the Feature race.’

  A1 Team Driver Time
1 France Nicolas Lapierre 24.03.360
2 Great Britain Robbie Kerr 24.10.341
3 Mexico Salvador Duran 24.11.387
4 Malaysia Alex Yoong 24.14.682
5 Switzerland Neel Jani 24.16.220
6 Ireland Ralph Firman 24.17.094
7 Netherlands Jos Verstappen 24.17.864
8 New Zealand Matt Halliday 24.19.669
9 Japan Hayanari Shimoda 24.22.074
10 Czech Republic Tomas Enge 24.26.482
11 Indonesia Ananda Mikola 24.26.666
12 Germany Timo Scheider 24.27.761
13 Austria Mathias Lauda 24.32.882
14 Italy Max Busnelli 24.35.547
15 USA Philip Giebler 24.39.755
16 Australia Marcus Marshall 24.41.317
17 Lebanon Basil Shaaban 24.48.545
18 India Armaan Ebrahim 25.03.649
19 Portugal Alvaro Parente 27.23.194
20 Brazil Christian Fittipaldi 17 Laps
21 South Africa Stephen Simpson 15 Laps
22 China Tengyi Jiang 5 Laps
23 Canada Sean McIntosh 1 Lap


A1 Team Canada fought their way from back of the grid to win the A1 Grand Prix of Nations, Sentul Circuit, Indonesia giving them their first win of the season. In front of a packed grandstand of 32,000 spectators, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and government representatives including the Ministers for Sport and Tourism, A1 Grand Prix laid on a spectacular race, action-packed from start to finish.

It was turmoil from the green light with pole sitter France’s bad start allowing second place Great Britain to take the lead off the grid. Mexico also suffered a bad start and with cars taking avoiding action as they went into the first corner, Japan and Indonesia collided and the car bearing the rising sun ended up in the barrier while Ananda Mikola managed to stay on track.

The incidents brought out the safety car at the end of lap one and both Switzerland and Italy pitted. With the former obviously realising this was against the regulations unless the car was damaged, Neel Jani drove through the pits and rejoined the back of the field. A1 Team Mexico had obviously suffered damage as his right rear tyre came off the rim on lap two and so the car limped back to the pits. Several of the drivers took the opportunity to take their mandatory pit stop at the end of lap

two but Great Britain did not and so maintained the lead. The safety car came in again at the end of lap three and as racing recommenced there was a collision between France and Malaysia, with the Sprint race winner having to pit for a new front wing.

The race was not the smoothest for the eventual winner as in lap five Canada was given a drive through penalty for crossing the line at the pit lane exit. A1 Team USA managed to keep going despite a visit to the gravel trap while man on a mission, Nicolas Lapierre found himself down in twentieth spot and a lap down on the leaders.

The safety car was soon out on the track again to retrieve A1 Team Lebanon’s car from the gravel but they were not the only ones to go off at this point. Both France and Austria visited the gravel but were able to get out under their own steam.

At this point A1 Teams Malaysia and Netherlands made their pit stops from the front of the field but race leader Great Britain stayed out, with the team saying that he was past the point where he could pit when they knew the safety car was going to come out.

The safety car came in at the end of lap 11 at which point the order was Great Britain, South Africa and Portugal. Canada and the USA were battling for twelfth place with the former getting by on lap 12 followed closely by A1 Team Netherlands. The Indonesian fans had to suffer more disappointment on lap 13 when their hero collided with Malaysia and spun although luckily he was able to continue. This was also the point when China joined the race having fixed the gear box problems suffered in the earlier Sprint race.

The number of cars visiting the gravel traps continued to rise with A1 Team India and A1 Team Ireland off in turn three on lap 14 and then to add insult to injury the Indian team were given a drive through penalty for a false start and the Irish team retired at the end of lap 15. However, there was some compensation for the Irish team as driver Ralph Firman scored the bonus point for recording the weekend’s fastest race lap at 1.19.029 at a speed of 180.6 km/h, setting a new lap record for the Sentul circuit.

While Great Britain and South Africa were leading, third and fourth were Portugal and Mexico. A1 Team Mexico had made their pit stop and so were in a strong position as the others hadn’t. However as they went into turn one at the start of lap 19 they collided with Portugal and retired from the race while Portugal continued. The safety car was deployed yet again but neither A1 Team Great Britain nor South Africa pitted. The safety car came in at the end of lap 22 as the cars went down into turn one it was South Africa who got the best of a side by side battle with Great Britain and came out in front.

By the end of lap 24, it was obvious that A1 Team Canada could win their first race as only rain could save Great Britain and South Africa who still needed to make a pit stop each. India was not having a good race and received its second drive through penalty, this time for ignoring a red light when exiting the pit lane.

Another team having an uncharacteristically bad race was France with yet another excursion to the gravel pit on lap 28 with A1 Team New Zealand although no contact was made.

One of the scarier moments of the race was on lap 30 when following contact with Malaysia, Netherlands spun and ended up coming back on the racing line with A1 Team Portugal bearing down on him. Thankfully the quick reactions of Alvaro Parente avoided an accident and both stayed on track.

A1 Team Great Britain’s hopes of its first win disappeared at the end of lap 30 when the car pitted and lost 44.5 seconds which included time for a sticking left rear tyre. By the time Robbie Kerr had rejoined the race, they were down in fifteenth.

Lap 31 saw A1 Team Germany head into the gravel with what was obviously a problem with the front right tyre and A1 Team Czech Republic visit the outs for a new nose. On the next lap it was retirement for A1 Team Italy after a spin which left the car stranded on the side of the track.

At the end of lap 33, A1 Team Canada was assured of a win as South Africa made its pit stop. At this point there was less than one second between Canada and Malaysia but by the time the cars crossed the finish line at the end of lap 36, the gap was nearly two seconds.

It was a great weekend for newcomers to A1 Grand Prix as Marcus Marshall for A1 Team Australia and Christian Fittipaldi for A1 Team Brazil finished third and fourth respectively. Fittipaldi’s spectacular drive put them back up above A1 Team Great Britain at third place in the championship points standing.

First-time winner, Sean McIntosh, A1 Team Canada: ‘It’s just an unbelievable result after the Sprint race. I shot myself in the foot in the Sprint race, and came to win from the back, even with a drive through penalty. It wasn’t an easy decision to pit early and then having to do the drive through penalty I lost all the ground I made up. I overtook about six cars after that and by the end of the race there were quite severe vibrations in the tyres.’

Ironically, it will not be Sean McIntosh that drives for A1 Team Canada at the next races in Mexico and the USA as new signing Patrick Carpentier gets behind the wheel. ‘I’ve set a high standard for Patrick, the pressure is on him now. But the team has more points now and I will be back in China and back strong’, McIntosh continued.

Second place man Alex Yoong said: ‘I’m elated for the team. The car was very strong. We should have pitted earlier though, we could have been even closer. This is what the Series is all about, there was so much overtaking, the cars are strong and built to overtake. Jos Verstappen and I had a real cat and mouse fight as we made our way through the field. It is such a good result for the team and for our new sponsor Proton. Having Proton on board has made such a difference for the team, as we have been able to concentrate on the racing rather than getting to the next race.’

Finishing on the podium in his first outing for A1 Team Australia, Marcus Marshall said: ‘It feels really good to be on the podium, especially after I didn’t even know whether I was coming or not. We really struggled in the dry and a bit in Qualifying but we kept pushing all weekend. We never gave up, and although there was too much wing on the car, which meant I was losing time on the straights, I was setting good times in the other sectors. I’m really stoked for the team, Fosters and everyone at home. A big hello to everyone in Australia.’

Marcus Marshall and Sean McIntosh praised the crowds that cheered them on. ‘The crowd were awesome. I know there have been smaller crowds elsewhere, but this is the same for any series, I experienced the same in Champ Car, some places take to Motorsport and some don’t’ said Marcus Marshall.

‘The support for Ananda Mikola was amazing in the crowd and for the other drivers as well. The country of Indonesia has been amazing and the people really passionate and excited about A1GP’, continued Sean McIntosh.

  A1 Team Driver Time Gap
1 Canada Sean McIntosh 55.55.779  
2 Malaysia Alex Yoong 55.57.710 +1.931
3 Australia Marcus Marshall 56.08.396 +12.617
4 Brazil Christian Fittipaldi 56.09.779 +14.000
5 Switzerland Neel Jani 56.12.288 +16.509
6 Netherlands Jos Verstappen 56.17.625 +21.846
7 New Zealand Matt Halliday 56.17.998 +22.319
8 France Nicolas Lapierre 56.18.477 +22.698
9 USA Philip Geibler 56.22.092 +26.313
10 Great Britain Robbie Kerr 56.38.748 +42.969
11 South Africa Stephen Simpson 57.10.293 +1.14.514
12 Germany Timo Scheider 57.28.763 +1.32.984
13 Czech Republic Tomas Enge 35 laps 1 lap
14 Indonesia Ananda Mikola 35 laps 1 lap
15 India Armaan Ebrahim 35 laps 1 lap
16 Italy Max Busnelli 31 laps 5 laps
17 Portugal Alvaro Parente 31 laps 5 laps
18 Austria Mathias Lauda 24 laps 12 laps
19 Ireland Ralph Firman 21 laps 15 laps
20 Mexico Salvador Duran 18 laps 18 laps
21 China Tengyi Jiang 11 laps 29 laps
22 Lebanon Basil Shaaban 7 laps 29 laps
23 Japan Hayanari Shimoda 0 laps 36 laps

Series Points to date – A1 Grand Prix of Nations, Sentul Circuit, Indonesia – 12 February 2006

1 France 132
2 Switzerland 104
3 Brazil 70
4 Great Britain 68
5 New Zealand 61
6 Netherlands 53
7 Ireland 50
8 Portugal 50
9 Malaysia 49
10 Canada 42
11 Australia 37
12 Czech Republic 31
13 Mexico 28
14 Italy 26
15 South Africa 20
16 Germany 15
17 USA 15
18 Indonesia 10
19 Austria 9
20 Japan 8
21 China 6
22 Pakistan 4

The ninth round of A1 Grand Prix, the World Cup of Motorsport will be held at Parque Fundidora Monterrey, Mexico on 24 – 26 February 2006

Reporting by A1GP.com
Sean McIntosh scored a great win for Team Canada in the Feature Race.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Salvador Duran finished third in the Sprint race and could have won the Feature event if not for a driver error.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Jos Verstappen (Team Netherlands) was on the pace all weekend.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Robbie Kerr waves to the crowd after finishing second in the Sprint Race.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Nicolas Lapierre took a confident win for Team France in the Sprint Race.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Ananada Mikola and Team Indonesia were the focus of media attention all weekend.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Christian Fittipaldi (Team Brazil) survived to finish fourth in the Feature Race.
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Sean McIntosh (Team Canada) heads Stephen Simpson (Team South Africa).
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The cars blast away from the grid at the start of the Feature Race.
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Alex Yoong took Team Malaysia's best result of the season with second in the Feature Race.
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Salvador Duran, Nicolas Lapierre and Robbie Kerr on the Sprint Race podium.
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Matt Halliday (Team New Zealand) and Nicolas Lapierre (Team france) try a bit of autocrossing.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Ananda Mikola and the Team Indonesia mechanics give their fans a wave.
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The cars wait on the grid for the start of the race.
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Marcus Marshall (Team Australia) is delighted to finish third in the Feature Race.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Robbie Kerr (Team Great Britian) leads Alex Yoong (Team Malaysia), Jos Verstappen (Team Netherlands) and Nicolas Lapierre (Team France).
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Sean McIntosh drove a storming race to win from the back of the grid.
(Picture A1GP.com)
The enthusiastic Indonesian crowds filled the stands.
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Ananda Mikola (Team Indonesia) is tapped by Thomas Enge (Team Czech Republic).
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Team USA waits on the grid.
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Sean McIntosh out in front .
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The drivers peel off into the pits during a pace car period.
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The Feature Race podium.
(Picture A1GP.com)
The drivers pose for a group photograph.
(Picture A1GP.com)