We’re back from holiday here at Brits on Pole, and catching up with everything we’ve missed – starting with A1GP’s Shanghai event, where Switzerland came close to wrapping up the championship and Ireland took another podium.
Adam Carroll’s third place in the feature race followed his win in Mexico City, and moved the Irish up to seventh in the overall standings, tied on points with sixth place Germany.
An otherwise unremarkable weekend for home-based drivers saw Britain’s Robbie Kerr score just four points for a pair of ninth place finishes. Despite this, the team still made up a little ground on the third-place French in the championship race. France holds a 111-99 point advantage ahead of the final event at Brands Hatch.
Switzerland’s Neel Jani dominated the sprint race from pole, taking not just the victory but also the point for the fastest lap. He finished the 10-lap race almost five seconds clear of Canada’s Robert Wickens in second, with Portugal’s impressive rookie Filipe Albuquerque in third, scoring his second podium in his fifth A1GP start.
Kerr and Carroll spent most of the race battling China’s Congfu Cheng to decide which two would fill the final points positions. Cheng took Carroll for 10th and pressured the Brit late in the race, but could not produce a crowd-pleasing pass.
Jani’s hopes of winning the title outright for Switzerland in the feature race ended early when he lost second gear. By the finish, fifth gear had also failed – but the Swiss still managed fifth place. His main rival. New Zealand’s Jonny Reid, finished fourth to keep the championship alive going into the final races at Brands Hatch on May 4th.
The USA’s Jonathan Summerton won the race, despite an injured and bandaged hand from a sprint race incident. Portugal’s Albuquerque took second, while Carroll scored the third Irish podium of the season after an early battle with India’s Narain Karthikeyan and a pitstop pass of the struggling Jani.
Kerr battled with Franck Montagny over 8th and 9th places, eventually losing out to the Frenchman. Pakistan’s Adam Khan took 16th in the sprint race and 17th in the feature.
Carroll said afterwards: “Portugal and India were having a good battle and I was able to pass Narain as he kind of had a bad lap as he had just been overtaken, so I knew it was my time to jump on him and make a move.
“After that I pushed as hard as I could but I really could not go any faster as the guys in front were just a bit quicker. It was hard today and the times were just extremely close.”
British team principal Katie Clements said: “This has obviously been a disappointing weekend for us because although we scored some points, we are used to scoring much higher, and had a very good chance to gain good ground on France for third place in the championship.
“It has been one of those weekends you can have in racing where it just didn’t come together for us. We are now firmly focused on our home race at Brands Hatch in three weeks and we have not changed our objective of a top three championship finish.”
For Team Pakistan, some racey overtakes by Khan failed to hide a wider problem with competitiveness. Team manager John Allen said: “I think the entire team is a little disappointed not to have scored some points this weekend. We didn’t make the best of the pit stops today and, together with not quite being on the pace, we couldn’t quite get to grips with the race.”