A1 Team Germany has taken its first Sprint race win, putting the car on pole for this afternoon’s Feature race. While the German car led from start to finish and was never under serious pressure, the rest of the field did not have this luxury as there were fierce battles for position being fought down the field to the final lap.

The first start was aborted after A1 Team France failed to take its correct grid position for the rolling start but after a second formation lap, the race got underway. As the teams fought hard to improve on their grid positions into turn one the first incident of the race occurred with a collision between Great Britain and Malaysia which broke the red white and blue car’s front wing and caused the more seriously damaged right yellow car into the pits and to retirement at the end of the lap.

The pack approached turn two with race leaders Germany, France and New Zealand edging away from the field, but once again the high-winds and dusty track meant the slightest mistake could end in disaster as Lebanon’s Alex Khateeb locked up and went into the back of A1 Team Singapore. The safety car was deployed as the stricken Singaporean car was removed from the track and as it pulled off at the end of lap five, New Zealand, France, Germany, Netherlands and Switzerland maintained their starting positions and led the race.

With positions set at the top of the field and the race leaders pulling ahead of the rest of the pack, it was the red, white and blue car of A1 Team Great Britain, still showing the damage from its earlier collision with Malaysia that came under attack. Knowing a pit stop would push the team too far back, the car did not stop for repairs and A1 Team South Africa were first to take advantage of the car’s troubles, overtaking on lap six. Italy was next to make its move but British driver Robbie Kerr would not be deterred and held the line forcing Italy to pull back and lose a place to Brazil as the car came up on the inside.

A1 Team Germany, Nico Hulkenberg: ‘The first start wasn’t good and then for the second one there was no problem. At the beginning I had a bit of a problem with my car and Loic was putting me under pressure. But then it got better and better and now I am happy. We have to put a lot of fuel in for the main race so we always have to change some little things.’

A1 Team France, Loic Duval: ‘I made a good start and Nico was a little bit earlier on the throttle so I was second. I was a little bit faster than him but it was difficult to overtake him. It would have been stupid to take a risk in this race so that is why I was second and that is okay for me.  I think I can perhaps catch Nico in the next race, we will see. It will be a long race with pit stops. I think we have a good car and for the second one for sure I will stay near him and if I can overtake I will try.’

A1 Team New Zealand, Jonny Reid: ‘I will take that third. It was tough work out there as the start was difficult because I could not see the lights because Nico’s wing was in my way so I was trying to re-arrange myself in the cockpit just so I could see the lights go out. I had a look inside the French car at the start but there was no room for me so I had to  settle for third from there. I think I may be able to catch these guys in the next race why not. The car was reasonable and there is a small change we can make that I know will make it go quicker. It wasn’t perfect but I am sure we can get it right for the main race.’

Sprint race results

  A1 Team Driver Time Gap first
1 Germany Nico Hulkenberg 19:49.089 + 
2 France Loic Duval 19:52.836 +3.747
3 New Zealand Jonny Reid 19:53.304 +4.215
4 Netherlands Jeroen Bleekemolen 19:56.621 +7.532
5 Switzerland Sebastien Buemi 19:56.891 +7.802
6 Canada James Hinchcliffe 19:57.898 +8.809
7 South Africa Alan van der Merwe 20:05.413 +16.324
8 Great Britain Robbie Kerr 20:18.182 +29.093
9 Italy Enrico Toccacelo 20:18.606 +29.517
10 India Narain Karthikeyan 20:18.720 +29.631
11 USA Ryan Hunter Reay 20:19.226 +30.137
12 Mexico Salvador Duran 20:19.623 +30.534
13 China Ho-Pin Tung 20:20.519 +31.430
14 Australia Karl Reindler 20:20.775 +31.686
15 Indonesia Ananda Mikola 20:21.865 +32.776
16 Brazil Raphael Matos 20:24.896 +35.807
17 Czech Republic Tomas Enge 20:40.636 +51.547
18 Pakistan Nur Ali 20:59.999 +1:10.910
19 Malaysia Alex Yoong 20:23.674 1 Lap
20 Ireland Richard Lyons 9:54.772 8 laps
21 Lebanon Alex Khateeb 11:17.285 8 Laps
22 Singapore Christian Murchison      -      -

Fastest lap: 1:14.862 A1 Team Germany, Nico Hulkenberg


A1 Team Germany has taken its first double win of the series with driver Nico Hulkenberg leading the SuperPoints A1GP Taupo, New Zealand from start to finish. Rookie driver, Loic Duval impressed in his first A1GP race holding second place for A1 Team France despite constant pressure from Jonny Reid who piloted Black Beauty to achieve the best result for a home nation at any A1GP event.

As the cars started the second lap, A1 Team Germany led France, New Zealand, Netherlands, Switzerland and Italy ahead of South Africa and Great Britain. Unfortunately for South Africa their position at the front of the field was not to last as their drive through penalty taken at the end of lap four for a jump start saw them drop down to 17th position.

Further down the field, the Czech Republic began closing the gap with Brazil piling the pressure on throughout lap seven. The pair approached turn 12 side by side but as both drivers kept up their speed the cars left the track, cutting over the grass and returning with A1 Team Czech Republic ahead and A1 Team Brazil with a destroyed front wing.

As the mandatory pit stop window opened at the start of lap eight, race leader Germany was the first to pit, followed on the same lap by the Netherlands, Great Britain and Italy. France and New Zealand came in on the next lap and the pressure was on the pit crews to get their respective cars out ahead of each other. Both crews pulled off flawless pit stops but the French left the pit lane one second ahead.

After a driveshaft failure put A1 Team Ireland out of the Sprint race and twentieth on the Feature race grid, driver Richard Lyons began to push the bright green car up the field as the other teams pitted. By the time they pitted on lap 12, the second driver to be experiencing his first A1GP race had moved up to 11th. Despite a good pit stop and some impressive overtaking attempts, the luck of the Irish ran out as a later error saw the car clip the curb, break the rear suspension and put the team out of the race just five laps from the end.

Back at the front of the pack, Switzerland made the most of the gap created while Germany, France, New Zealand and the Netherlands pitted, so. when the red and white car made its mandatory pit stop it was able to leap frog the Dutch, into fourth and hold that position for the rest of the race.

New Zealand kept the pressure on France throughout the race making several close attempts at overtaking but near faultless performances from both on a tight and slippery track kept the positions at a stalemate.

While the success of the weekend saw both France and New Zealand move up in the championship standings, a disappointing weekend for Mexico saw them drop from third to fifth. Great Britain who started the weekend second in the standings dropped down to fourth place after an impressive Sprint race performance was dampened by a battery failure which forced the team to retire from sixth on lap 40 of the Feature race.

However, there was no such disappointment in the A1 Team India garage as the team scored its first ever points for seventh place thanks to the efforts of another newcomer to the series, Narain Karthikeyan. As if this was not enough, he also managed to set the second fastest lap of the race less than two tenths of a second slower than that set by Germany.

A1 Team Germany’s Nico Hulkenberg was delighted with his first double win of the series, commenting: ‘I got into my rhythm, I was able to find my pace and I could make a little gap between us. My manager was a little bit sick this week and I think I have caught something off him but I am all right. I drank a lot, about four litres before the race and I am okay. I want to say a big thank you to the team as we had a good strategy and a great pit stop. I am so pleased to be here and to have won the race and I am really looking forward to Australia now.’

His first taste of an A1GP race weekend impressed France’s Loic Duval who like, Hulkenberg is looking forward to the next race at Eastern Creek in Sydney (2 – 4 February 2007). Duval said: At the end it was not so bad unfortunately I was not first but for my first experience in A1GP I think it was quite good. I am fine with the team and happy to be in this series so I hope the next race will be better.

‘I think the problem this weekend we were quick on the first two laps and then it was more difficult to drive the car, but anyway it was my first race and the team did a really, really good job. They did a great pit stop. At the end it was not such a bad weekend. Nico was just quicker than me, but this was my first experience with the team during a race and I think we can improve the car so now we see for the next race.’

The 80,000 plus crowd over the weekend spurred on the home nation making them the first A1 Team to set foot on the podium in front of their home crowd. Driver Jonny Reid commented: ‘It was tough out there. I was sliding around. I knew if I could get in front I could pull away gradually. There was not much between us. I think we were quicker overall but I just couldn’t put that into second place. 

When we had the back markers I knew that would cause some confusion so I put the pressure on but there were no mistakes made by the French team. Loic did a very good job under pressure and credit to him. That was a tough race for us all and I am happy with third place.’

Commenting on the success of his home race, Reid continued: ‘Everyone has done a fantastic job. Credit to everyone in A1 Team New Zealand, A1GP, the Government everyone who has put this event together.

This is our second best overall placing at an A1GP event so we can take those points and look forward to Eastern Creek.’

With over 80,000 people attending over the race weekend, the first A1GP race in Taupo proved to be a great success. ‘New Zealanders should be incredibly proud of today’s event. In excess of 80,000 fans experienced the thrill and excitement of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport at Taupo.

The racing was incredibly close from start to finish with two podium places for the home team. Now we’re looking forward to heading across the Tasman to Sydney for round seven’ commented A1GP chief executive officer, Pete da Silva.

Feature race results

  A1 Team Driver Time Gap first
1 Germany Nico Hulkenberg 1:03:38.100 + 
2 France Loic Duval 1:03:57.611 +19.511
3 New Zealand Jonny Reid 1:03:58.027 +19.927
4 Switzerland Sebastien Buemi 1:03:58.956 +20.856
5 Netherlands Jeroen Bleekemolen 1:03:59.451 +21.351
6 Canada James Hinchcliffe 1:03:59.908 +21.808
7 India Narain Karthikeyan 1:04:08.859 +30.759
8 Italy Enrico Toccacelo 1:04:09.574 +31.474
9 China Ho-Pin Tung 1:04:23.837 +45.737
10 USA Ryan Hunter Reay 1:04:26.641 +48.541
11 Malaysia Alex Yoong 1:04:27.335 +49.235
12 Czech Republic Tomas Enge 1:04:44.205 +1:06.105
13 Australia Karl Reindler 1:04:50.728 +1:12.628
14 Brazil Raphael Matos 1:03:47.045 1 Lap
15 Singapore Christian Murchison 1:04:07.242 1 Lap
16 South Africa Alan van der Merwe 1:04:07.555 1 Lap
17 Lebanon Alex Khateeb 1:03:41.966 2 Laps
18 Pakistan Nur Ali 1:03:42.145 4 Laps
19 Ireland Richard Lyons 58:31.366 5 Laps
20 Mexico Salvador Duran 56:21.688 8 Laps
21 Great Britain Robbie Kerr 51:20.590 10 Laps
22 Indonesia Ananda Mikola 10:30.923 42 Laps

The bonus point for the fastest race lap went to A1 Team Germany who recorded a time of 1:14.742 on lap 15 of the Feature race, with a speed of 159.9 kph.

2006/07 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport standings:

1 Germany 65
2 France 46
3 New Zealand 43
4 Great Britain 36
5 Mexico 34
6 Malaysia 30
7 Italy 29
8 Switzerland 29
9 Canada 28
10 Netherlands 26
11 USA 21
12 Czech Republic 20
13 Australia 18
14 South Africa 13
15 China 10
16 Brazil 5
17 India 4
18 Singapore 3
19 Indonesia 1
20 Ireland 1

Reporting by A1GP.com
It was a three-way battle at the front.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Loric Duval and Team France have regained their missing form.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Jonny Reid delighted the home crowd with third place.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Jeroen Bleekemolen (Team Netherlands) had a good run to fourth.
(Picture A1GP.com)
It was atight fit into the first corner...
(Picture A1GP.com)
...and through the opening lap.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Robbie Kerr (Team Great Britain) fought a rearguard action following damage to his front wing.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Alex Khateeb (Team Lebanon) goes dirt-tracking.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Loric Duval (Team France), Nico Hulkenberg (Team Germany) and Jonny Reid (Team New Zealand) share the podium.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Two in a row for Nico Hulkenberg (Team Germany).
(Picture A1GP.com)
Second again for Loric Duval (Team France).
(Picture A1GP.com)
Jonny Reid took a fighting third.
(Picture A1GP.com)
James Hinchcliffe (Team Canada) had a competitive weekend.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Jeroen Bleekemolen just missed out on fourth place.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Alex Yoong and the Team Malaya crew wait on the grid.
(Picture A1GP.com)
There were close battles throughout the field.
(Picture A1GP.com)
The opening laps were hard-fought.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Robbie Kerr (Team Great Britain) suffered mechanical failure when running well.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Ryan Hunter Reay (Team uSA) ran well on his A1GP debut.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Raphael Mateos modifies the Team Brazil car.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Alan van der Merwe (Team South Africa) makes his pit stop.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Nur Ali (Team Pakistan).
(Picture A1GP.com)
Salvador and the Team Mexico team were oddly off the pace.
(Picture A1GP.com)
The teams wait on the grid.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Loric Duval (Team France), Nico Hulkenberg (Team Germany) and Jonny Reid (Team New Zealand) show off their trophies.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Nico Hulkenberg sprays the champagne.
(Picture A1GP.com)