A1GP: Team GB is, er, third again

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarFriday, October 26th, 2007

 
 

So, what’s been happening in the thrilling world of A1GP while we all had our eyes on Lewis Hamilton? Time for a bit of a catch-up.

Well, the first meeting of the season took place in Zandvoort, in the Netherlands, on September 29-30.

South Africa started the weekend as they meant to go on, with a double pole in a wet qualifying session. The team went on to dominate the sprint race with Adrian Zaugg taking the win. France were second and the Netherlands third with a seventh-place finish from Oliver Jarvis the best the Brits could muster.

The feature race, however, was a different story with Jarvis putting a season-first win under his belt. Zaugg ran him to second with Switzerland’s Neel Jani coming home third.

This was a double-edged sword for new team principal Katie Clements because, as she related in her Guardian column, she was thus forced to make a significant personal sacrifice as a result of a bet with Jarvis.

She said: “Taking over from John Surtees as team principal this summer to run an international racing team for the first time has been a fairly daunting but welcome task. Having worked relentlessly all summer restructuring the team, it would be fair to say I was terrified by the possibility of performing badly in the first race.

“However I have complete confidence in our newly promoted engineer, our race team and our two superb drivers for this season.

“The whole weekend in Zandvoort seems a bit of a blur now. Away from the on-track action, my schedule was non-stop… I wish someone had warned me beforehand that being team principal meant you only slept four hours a night at race events, but if that’s what it takes to perform the role, I’m up for the challenge.

“Back to the on-track action, and it was pretty important to me that we picked up where we left off at the end of the 2006-07 season, when we picked up three wins and four second places in the last seven races.. a much more impressive third for the feature race certainly gave us the confidence we needed heading into Sunday.

“The only downside to us winning is that I’d bet Robbie that I’d give up smoking if we won the first feature race of the season.”

Race two took place at Brno in the Czech Republic on October 13-14. And it was New Zealand’s weekend from the moment the cars set wheel to track. Driver Johnny Reid pulled off a spectacular double, grabbing the maximum points for both feature and sprint.

Robbie Kerr for Team GB snagged a second in the sprint race but then had to relinquish a potential podium in the feature race after a puncture forced him into an unscheduled tour of the pit lane resulting in an inglorious 17th.

He said: “The sprint race was a fantastic first race back in the car. It was a shame we couldn’t make it one place higher but the car wasn’t quite under us to challenge New Zealand and we had a lot of oversteer.

“Unfortunately Ireland and GBR did touch but there was no blame and it was great racing and a good result.

“In the feature we got a great start battling for the lead going into the first corner. We had a slower first pit stop than normal and South Africa came out ahead, but I battled hard and immediately got up behind him.

“We had a good battle but when I eventually overtook him down the straight, giving him plenty of room, he unfortunately got it wrong on the inside and drove into the back of my car knocking off the valve cap, therefore puncturing my tyre with his front wing.

“We couldn’t wait until the next pit stop window to change the tyres so had to come in for another stop. It’s disappointing as we were heading for a possible podium and could have left Brno as championship leaders.”

To the standings: take a guess where all this leaves the British team in the rankings. Go on. Just off the top of your head.

That’s right – third place, albeit a joint third place. A tip from us: if there’s an office sweepstake going on, now’s your chance to make good money.

The British team is currently tied with the Netherlands on 31 points while New Zealand are on 36 and South Africa barely in the lead on 37.

France and Switzerland are yapping at the heels of the leaders on 29 and Ireland are on 21.

Round three of the A1GP championship will take place in Sepang, Malaysia, on November 24-25.

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