A1GP: gala marks season’s end

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarWednesday, May 7th, 2008

 
 

The A1GP World Cup of Motorsport celebrated the end of its 2007/08 season on Monday evening with a gala dinner at the Hilton on Park Lane Hotel in London.

Teams, drivers, sponsors and officials gathered to mark the season’s successes, including Switzerland’s championship win, Ireland’s status as the most improved team and Canadian Robert Wickens’ victory as the top-performing rookie.

The British team nabbed third place for the third year running (as tipped by us at the beginning of the season). So, if you enjoy a bet, we would suggest checking out the odds of a fourth occurrence of this phenomenon right now. Or you could always be the one to organise the office sweepstake…

Ireland bagged the improvement award (as well as being named as best-presented team) after Adam Carroll ended his nation’s run of 38 races without a podium finish when he took third in the Brno sprint race on his A1GP debut.

Carroll went on to score his and the team’s first feature race win in Mexico City in March and has stepped up onto the podium four times during his debut A1GP season.

Mark Gallagher, Ireland team principal, said: “This time last year we won the award for being the best presented team and having the best livery and I said that instead of being all show and no go I’d prefer to be the most improved team in a year’s time and we’ve now achieved that.

“This year I don’t even have to decide which I’d prefer us to win as we now have both! That’s completely down to Dave O’Neill (team manager) and the boys in the team, to Adam Carroll, Ralph Firman, Niall Quinn and the fantastic support we’ve had from all our sponsors.

“The victory in Mexico was a major turning point and the way in which the team has finished the season has made all the efforts over the last three years worthwhile. It has renewed our belief that the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport really does offer every country in the world the chance to enjoy success at the very highest level.”

A1GP chairman Tony Teixeira presented Team Switzerland with the winner’s trophy and congratulated all 22 nations on their third season of competition.

He said: “Max Welti and his team have done a great job and I know the fight has been long and hard with the likes of New Zealand, Great Britain and France never letting up and keeping the most amazing amount of pressure on them.

“But I also want to congratulate all the other teams who have made the year so memorable and contributed to the title fight going down the wire at Brands Hatch.”

Pete da Silva, the series’ chief executive officer, praised the contributions of everyone who had worked to build it up during its third season: “We should have a great sense of pride in the huge steps we have taken in establishing A1GP as one of the world’s most prestigious motor racing series.

“We have travelled to the four corners of the world where the racing has been entertaining and unpredictable.”

He reminded listeners that season four would be the beginning of a new era thanks to a forthcoming partnership with Ferrari, heralded by a season-opener set for the Mugello circuit near Florence in Italy.

Team New Zealand received its trophy for second place in the championship from former All Blacks rugby star Sean Fitzpatrick.

Robert Wickens, 19, joined the Canadian team at round three in Malaysia and going on to secure a string of impressive results. He achieved five podium finishes including Canada’s maiden sprint race victory in Durban

The Toronto-born racer, who was 18 at the time of the Durban event, also became the youngest ever pole-sitter in A1GP.

Full list of winners:

  • World Champions: A1 Team Switzerland
  • Second place: A1 Team New Zealand
  • Third place: A1 Team Great Britain
  • Best A1GP event of 2007/08: A1GP Mexico City, Mexico
  • Most improved A1 Team: A1 Team Ireland
  • Rookie Driver of the Year: Robert Wickens, A1 Team Canada
  • Most Spectacular Overtaking Manoeuvre: Canada’s Robert Wickens overtaking Germany’s Michael Ammermüller during the A1GP Eastern Creek, Sydney sprint race
  • A1GP.com Fanzone Best A1 Team: A1 Team Malaysia
  • A1 Team PR Excellence: A1 Team Netherlands
  • Best-Presented A1 Team: A1 Team Ireland
  • Best A1GP Broadcaster: ESPN STAR Sports

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