16/03/08

A1GP - MEXICO CITY, MEXICO: SPRINT & FEATURE RACES

SPRINT RACE

A1 Team New Zealand raced to its third Sprint race victory of the season in this morning's incident-packed race at Mexico City's Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in perfect weather conditions, moving them up to second place in the championship. New Zealand held off Great Britain who crossed the line second to secure a superb podium finish while Switzerland took the final podium position, increasing its title lead as France failed to score any points.

The 22-car field was forced to reform on the grid for a second time after the scheduled start of the 20-minute race was red-flagged, as eight teams were involved in collisions at the rolling start and many sustained damage to their cars.

Once the debris had been cleared from the track, the race finally got underway and the pack jostled for position heading into turn one. Pole-sitter South Africa's Adrian Zaugg held the lead while GBR's Oliver Jarvis moved up two places to snatch third, slotting in behind New Zealand's Jonny Reid and just ahead of Switzerland's Neel Jani.

Reid started to hunt down Zaugg and by lap three 'Black Beauty' had taken control, snatching the race lead from Zaugg when he locked up and went straight on at turn one as a result of a slow puncture sustained at the start, putting the South African car out of the race.

A spinning Filip Salaquarda in the Czech Republic car at the final turn brought the safety car out on track on lap five, allowing the field to bunch up behind New Zealand. The action restarted on lap eight and Reid started to pull away from Jarvis in the British car, who was under pressure from Switzerland's Jani.

The Kiwi went on the win the race ahead of GBR's Jarvis in second, collecting crucial championship points and moving New Zealand to 15 points behind title leader Switzerland, who finished the race third.

China's Cong Fu Cheng, who collided with Malaysia's Alex Yoong on lap eight, picked up a bonus point for setting the fastest lap of the race.

All 22 nations are now preparing for the main event of the weekend in Mexico City, a 70-minute standing start Feature race with two compulsory pit stops, which starts at 15:00 this afternoon.

Sprint race winner New Zealand's Jonny Reid, who has his sights firmly set on the championship lead, reflected on the first start melee:

'It has been a very difficult couple of rounds especially in Durban, but that's motor racing and it's really good to bounce back here with a win and survive the carnage at the first start. Adrian accelerated and braked and accelerated and braked, then Neel almost ran into the back of me and I think Olly ran up the back of someone as well. So to clear the first corner I was much more relaxed and then I could start working on Adrian. I managed to be the last of the late brakers into turn one and over take him. Our focus is on the championship lead and we will do everything we can from P6 in the Feature race. It's ideally not where we deserve to start after the yellow flag in the last run in Qualifying but there are a few drivers in the same boat. You can still win the race from there that's for sure.'

GBR's Oliver Jarvis, who managed to hold off Switzerland's Neel Jani to take second, is targeting a Feature race win this afternoon in what will be his last outing for the British team this season:

'I'm not sure what happened with the powerboost, it happened in the first start. I only pressed the button once and then it used them all up so maybe a small problem but it meant I was under pressure from Neel. Fortunately I could get a bit of a gap in sector three, a bit of breathing space down the straight, but he did push me hard off the re-start. I'd love to go out with a win this afternoon. It would be fantastic for myself and also for the team. The team really needs solid finishes so if we can get a podium in the Feature race I'll be happy, but not as happy as I would be with a win.'

Title leader Neel Jani was satisfied with his third place finish for the Swiss team this morning:

'I think third was the maximum I could do today, I was struggling a little bit with the car, especially in the bumpy sections and I just went for third spot and I just wanted to secure that. I tried at the re-start to get Olly but it wasn't quite enough, but third place is ok for me.'

Sprint race results

POS DRIVER A1 TEAM TIME
1 Jonny REID NEW ZEALAND 20:59.462
2 Oliver JARVIS GREAT BRITAIN 21:02.159
3 Neel JANI SWITZERLAND 21:03.207
4 Adam CARROLL IRELAND 21:03.753
5 Jonathan SUMMERTON USA 21:04.183
6 Filipe ALBUQUERQUE PORTUGAL 21:06.587
7 Robert WICKENS CANADA 21:07.249
8 Jeroen BLEEKEMOLEN NETHERLANDS 21:08.059
9 Alex YOONG MALAYSIA 21:09.061
10 Bruno JUNQUEIRA BRAZIL 21:10.414
11 Edoardo PISCOPO ITALY 21:11.000
12 Jonathan COCHET FRANCE 21:11.945
13 Narain KARTHIKEYAN INDIA 21:14.321
14 Satrio HERMANTO INDONESIA 21:15.062
15 Jimmy AUBY LEBANON 21:16.432
16 David GARZA MEXICO 21:17.825
17 Congfu CHENG CHINA 21:18.111
18 Filip SALAQUARDA CZECH REPUBLIC 05:47.327
19 Adam KHAN PAKISTAN 06:26.176
20 Adrian ZAUGG SOUTH AFRICA 02:46.393
21 John MARTIN AUSTRALIA 0
22 Michael AMMERM√úLLER GERMANY 0

Fastest lap: A1 Team China's Cong Fu Cheng set the fastest lap (1m21.589s) of the Sprint race on lap 11.

FEATURE RACE
A1 Team Ireland was on sensational form in Mexico City this afternoon to win the thrilling Feature race from Great Britain and USA, becoming the 15th nation to win an A1GP race. It is a fantastic result for Portadown's Adam Carroll in his debut season for the team, and particularly well timed as the win comes just one day before Ireland celebrates St Patrick's Day (17 March). The top three title contenders - Switzerland, New Zealand and France - all endured difficult afternoons and failed to score any points.

A green flag signalled the start of the action-packed 47-lap race in hot and sunny weather conditions (36 degrees C), after the first start was aborted due to technical problems with the starting lights.

Twenty-five-year-old Adam Carroll, who topped the time sheets in free practice on Friday, started the race from fifth and leapt up the order to second behind Switzerland's Neel Jani after amazing work from the Irish team during the first compulsory pit stop on lap nine. He held position until lap 34 when he pitted the emerald green car for the second time and rejoined the action as race leader after another sensational stop. The crowds roared as Carroll, who was making his 14th race appearance for Ireland, crossed the line first to take his and the team's first ever A1GP victory.

Great Britain's Oliver Jarvis put in a brilliant performance to race from fourth on the grid to finish second, notching up a double-podium on his final outing for the British team this season and picking up more valuable championship points. Jarvis also scored a bonus point for setting the fastest lap of the race and this weekend's points haul moves GBR up to fourth in the title table behind France.

USA's Jonathan Summerton, who scored his nation's best ever result at Mexico City last year when he finished second in the Feature race, was once again on superb form, charging through the field from seventh on the grid to finish third and take the final podium position ahead of the Netherlands' Jeroen Bleekemolen.

Pole-sitter Canada's Robert Wickens got a good start but lost the lead to Switzerland on lap six and fell down the order to third during the first round of pit stops. By lap 31 Wickens was running in fifth place as GBR and USA managed to overtake the 19-year-old who had been battling with an over-heating car and clutch problem from lap one. The Canadian racer, who said this was the hardest race he has ever driven, went on to cross the line in fifth position.

Having snuck through and taken the lead from Canada's Robert Wickens on lap six, title leader Switzerland's Neel Jani dominated the action until lap 34, when he came in for his second compulsory pit-stop at the same time as Ireland. After another stunning pit stop from the Irish crew, Carroll took the lead from Jani, who was shortly after hit with a drive-through penalty for unsafe release from his second stop, demoting the Swiss star to 19th at the chequered flag.

New Zealand's Jonny Reid, who was running in seventh for the first half of the race, ran wide at the chicane on lap 25 and brought out the safety car, allowing the pack to bunch up behind race leader Switzerland. Reid rejoined the action in 18th ahead of Mexico and finally crossed the line 12th.

Home nation A1 Team Mexico's David Garza, who led the race for two laps during the second round of pit stops, scored his nation's best ever home race result, making up eight places from the back of the grid to cross the line 14th.

Feature race winner Adam Carroll was delighted to score Ireland's first win and paid tribute to his team's incredible work in the pits:

'It's been three long years for the team and it's my first year in A1GP. I think everybody just saw our true potential this weekend especially with the guys with the pits stop. We knew they were capable of doing those times and today they pulled it off and it won us the race. I'd just like to say thanks to everybody, we've put in so much effort and this is for everybody who has believed in A1 Team Ireland. Hopefully this is just the start and we will finish the year extremely strongly and try to come back and win the championship next year.

He continued:

'We tried to relax and just go racing and have a bit of fun. We still put in the hard work but I think everyone was just a bit more relaxed and we were able to show our true potential. We knew the guys could do it and they did and hopefully this is the first of many - it's just fantastic. I had champagne in my trophy and I don't think the celebrating will stop tonight - it will probably finish sometime tomorrow afternoon, I just hope everybody makes the flight!'

Oliver Jarvis, who notched up two podium finishes today on his final race outing for GBR this season, said:

'Mexico has been a fantastic place for me. I've had four great results here and we really wanted the win today but unfortunately Ireland just did a fantastic job, a whole team effort, but we are happy to go away with two seconds. It's some strong points and we will look forward to going into the last two races and especially Brands Hatch on 4 May.'

USA's Jonathan Summerton raced from seventh on the grid to third, to score the team's third ever podium finish and the second of his A1GP career:

'It was again very similar to last year, we had a very quick car at the end and I was really happy with the car the whole race. At first we had a little bit of a problem but we managed to change a bit of the set up through the tyres and then we just kept chasing people down as quickly as possible. I'm happy with third. I was trying my best but it didn't happen.'

Switzerland leaves Mexico on 128 points ahead of New Zealand on 113 and France, who failed to pick up any points this weekend, on 108. Eight nations, including today's Feature race winner Ireland, are still mathematically in with a chance of winning the championship as the thrilling series returns to China for the penultimate round in Shanghai on 11-13 April 2008.

Feature race results

POS DRIVER A1 TEAM TIME
1 Adam CARROLL IRELAND 07:47.858
2 Oliver JARVIS GREAT BRITAIN 07:51.213
3 Jonathan SUMMERTON USA 07:51.962
4 Jeroen BLEEKEMOLEN NETHERLANDS 08:01.511
5 Robert WICKENS CANADA 08:03.033
6 Adrian ZAUGG SOUTH AFRICA 08:04.053
7 Filipe ALBUQUERQUE PORTUGAL 08:04.400
8 Bruno JUNQUEIRA BRAZIL 08:05.111
9 Narain KARTHIKEYAN INDIA 08:14.362
10 Congfu CHENG CHINA 08:18.529
11 Satrio HERMANTO INDONESIA 08:23.394
12 Jonny REID NEW ZEALAND 08:23.909
13 Jonathan COCHET FRANCE 08:27.322
14 David GARZA MEXICO 08:36.940
15 Alex YOONG MALAYSIA 08:41.718
16 Filip SALAQUARDA CZECH REPUBLIC 08:54.011
17 Jimmy AUBY LEBANON 09:12.629
18 Adam KHAN PAKISTAN 06:50.978
19 Neel JANI SWITZERLAND 06:51.461
20 Michael AMMERM√úLLER GERMANY 07:57.774
21 John MARTIN AUSTRALIA 08:12.210
22 Edoardo PISCOPO ITALY 0

2007/08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport points standings

POS A1 TEAM POINTS
1 Switzerland 128
2 New Zealand 113
3 France 108
4 Great Britain 95
5 South Africa 88
6 Netherlands 80
7 Germany 77
8 Ireland 73
9 Canada 62
10 China 45
11 Brazil 44
12 India 30
13 USA 29
14 Portugal 28
15 Mexico 22
16 Australia 20
17 Malaysia 12
18 Czech Republic 10
19 Italy 7
20 Pakistan 1

Fastest lap: A1 Team GBR set the fastest lap in the Feature race, lapping the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in 1m.21.417s with a speed of 180.6 kph on lap 37 of the 47 lap race.

Reporting by A1GP.com

All pictures A1GP.com.

SPRINT RACE



Jonny Reid boosted Team New Zealand in the Championship with victory in the Sprint Race.



Ollie Jarvis (Team GBR) took a hard fought second.



Neel Jani (Team Switzerland) was a very close third.



Adam Carroll was an very good fourth for Team Ireland.



Team USA and Jonathan Summerton showed great pace.



Filipe Albuquerque continued to show well for Team Portugal.



Team Germany's race was ruined by a coming together.



A cryptic message from Team Canada.



Jimmy Auby drove well for Team Lebanon.




A rear puncture ruined the race for Adrian Zaugg (Team South Africa).



Oliver Jarvis, Jonny Reid and Neel Jani on the Sprint Race podium.

FEATURE RACE



Adam Carroll (Team Ireland) was simply stunning in the feature race.



Another second place for Oliver Jarvis (Team GBR).



Jonathan Sunmmerton (Team USA) got faster as the race progressed.



Jeroen Bleekemolen (Team Netherlands) drove consistently to take fourth.



Fifth for Rob Wickens (Team Canada).



Adrian Zaugg (Team South Africa) held on to sixth.



Another good finish for Filipe Albuquerque and Team Portugal.



Bruno Junqueira (Team Brazil) was eighth.



Ninth for Narain Karthikeyan (Team India).



Completing the top ten was Congfu Cheng (Team China).



Team France and Jonathan Cochet were mired in the midfield all weekend.



A brake-locking David Garza (Team Mexico).



Team Australia and Team Pakistan go head-to-head.



Adam Carroll on the receiving end of a delighted Team Ireland.



Superb pitwork from Team Ireland was a major factor in Adam Carroll's victory.



Oliver Jarvis, a leprechaun and Jonathan Summerton on the Feature Race podium



A Mexican beauty.