GERMANY WINS FIRST A1GP IN ZANDVOORT
A capacity crowd of 75,000 fans watched another stunning race at the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport’s opening weekend at Zandvoort. The 70 minute Feature race, characterised by breathtaking overtaking moves and unpredictable conditions, was finally won by A1 Team Germany, the country’s first-ever A1GP victory, just over seven seconds ahead of A1 Teams USA and Australia. A1 Team Netherlands finished its home race in a popular 4th position.
The race drama started even before the green light as the Swiss car stalled on the formation lap. A1 Team Malaysia, who had started on the row behind Switzerland, jinked to the right to pass the stricken car but caught its left-rear wheel and broke the suspension. Both cars were pushed away from the grid into the pit lane but eventually rejoined the field.
When the race got underway from a standing start, polesitter A1 Team South Africa was slow away from the line and fell to fourth position into the first corner. Driver Zaugg’s frustration was to continue as he clashed with A1 Team Great Britain and ran straight on into a gravel trap, losing his front wing. Unable to rejoin, Zaugg retired on the spot. The Czech Republic team too had a torrid start, also losing the front wing and returning to the pits before the end of the first lap.
With South Africa out of the race, Mexico pushed to the front of the field, with France second, Germany third and Great Britain fourth. Mexico’s advantage was not to last though as Duran ran wide coming into Tarzan on the second lap, allowing France into the lead. The following lap Germany, with rookie Nico Hulkenberg at the wheel, also squeezed through and relegated Mexico to third position.
Nineteen-year-old Hulkenberg was delighted to give A1 Team Germany their first-ever series victory, “I pushed hard and did my best throughout the race. I didn’t think that I could win after my second stop and I didn’t realise what position I was - I thought I was around 10th, until my engineer radioed at told me I was P.1! It was a fantastic race and the changeable weather really added to the excitement, as we were all swapping between slicks and wet weather tyres. This was a really great weekend for Team Germany and we are looking forward to Brno.” Germany seat holder applauded his protégé’s efforts, “I’m very proud of our achievement – there are very few fast drivers in Germany at the moment and even fewer special drivers. Nico has done a great job and it’s fantastic that it’s the first race for A1GP and Germany’s first win. I hope that the German crowds get behind us to help us achieve even more.”
A1 Team USA’s Phil Giebler congratulated his team’s daring strategy, which enabled him to secure the second spot on the podium, “It was a difficult race with the weather and I have to thank my team for trusting my judgement to stay on slicks. It took some guts and a lot of luck but I knew that the track would dry up and the weather would blow over, so I just stuck with it. It was however like driving on egg shells at points and I was close to coming off a few times. I had a terrible start and lost many places but a good strategy brought me back on top. I’m hoping that we can compete at the top of the championship all season.”
FEATURE RACE RESULTS
A1 Team, Driver, gap to first place.
1.Germany, Nico Hulkenberg
2.USA, Philip Giebler, +07.870
3.Australia, Ryan Briscoe, +33.619
4.Netherlands, Jeroen Bleekemolen, +35.873
5.Mexico, Salvador Duran, +40.321
6.Italy, Pier Guidi Alessandro, +42.616
7.Great Britain, Darren Manning, +54.333
8.Switzerland, Sebastien Buemi, +59.382
9.China, Congfu Cheng, +1.29.659
10.Indonesia, Ananda Mikola, +1.37.489
All news/photos used with permission of the A1 Grand Prix.