Durban’s A1 Grand Prix thriller

30 January 2006

About 100 000 fans lined the 3.2-kilometre A1 Grand Prix Durban street circuit on Sunday to witness a riveting sprint and grand prix race, with ex-Formula One driver Jos Verstappen of the Netherlands turning in a fine performance to take the honours in the feature event.

The former Formula One star snatched the lead on the final lap, overtaking Switzerland’s Neel Jani, who was having brake problems, with a bold pass.

Earlier, Verstappen had crashed out of the sprint race on the last lap, as he tried for the victory. That mistake saw him relegated to 16th place on the grid for the 40-lap main event.

Portugal’s Alvaro Parente claimed third place ahead of New Zealand’s Matt Halliday, who drove superbly and with considerable guts to snap up fourth spot.

Error-free run for Simpson
South Africa’s Stephen Simpson finished fifth, equaling the best finish thus far by a driver in his home grand prix, following an error-free run.

Simpson started the race in 10th place on the grid after he struggled with electrical problems in the sprint race, which resulted in a lowly 20th place finish. His crew played a vital role in helping him move up the standings, executing a slick pit stop which enabled Simpson to move ahead of a number of his rivals.

The local crowd showed their appreciation for his efforts by giving him a standing ovation after the race, and Simpson responded by throwing his gloves to the fans.

Following Simpson across the finishing line was Italy’s Massimo Busnelli, Alexandre Premat of France – who won the sprint race – Austria’s Mathias Lauda, Brazil’s Nelson Piquet junior, and Sean McIntosh of Canada.

Home support
Speaking after the race, Simpson said he was delighted to have been able to pay the South African supporters back with a good drive, especially in light of the disappointing result in the sprint race. “It was hard work and very tiring, but I am relieved and very proud to have finished in the top five,” he said.

“The technical team in the pits has been great and a lot of hard work went into this achievement. This is a great afternoon to be a South African.”

Team South Africa CEO Dana Cooper said the event was a huge success. She said the sell-out crowd was a fantastic reward for all the hard work that went into preparing for the A1 Grand Prix on the Durban beachfront.

Among the guests in attendance were South African President Thabo Mbeki, Kwazulu-Natal Premier Sbu Ndebele, and Durban Mayor Obed Mlaba.

Results

Sprint race

 

  • 1. France (Alexandre Premat)
  • 2. Britain (Robbie Kerr)
  • 3. Switzerland (Neel Jani)
  • 4. Ireland (Ralph Firman)
  • 5. Czech Republic (Tomas Enge)
  • 6. New Zealand (Matt Halliday)
  • 7. Germany (Timo Scheider)
  • 8. Portugal (Alvaro Parente)
  • 9. Australia (Will Davison)
  • 10. Mexico (David Martinez)
  • 11. Pakistan (Enrico Toccacelo)
  • 12. Canada (Sean McIntosh)
  • 13. United States (Philip Giebler)
  • 14. India (Armaan Ebrahim)
  • 15. Austria (Mathias Lauda)Did not finish
  • 16. Netherlands (Jos Verstappen)
  • 17. Lebanon (Basil Shaaban)
  • 18. China (Tengyi Jiang)
  • 19. Brazil (Nelson Piquet Jr.)
  • 20. South Africa (Stephen Simpson)
  • 21. Indonesia (Ananda Mikola)
  • 22. Italy (Massimiliano Busnelli)
  • 23. Malaysia (Alex Yoong)

 

Grand Prix

 

  • 1. Netherlands, (Jos Verstappen)
  • 2. Switzerland (Neel Jani)
  • 3. Portugal (Alvaro Parente)
  • 4. Zealand (Matt Halliday)
  • 5. South Africa (Stephen Simpson)
  • 6. Italy (Massimiliano Busnelli)
  • 7. France (Alexandre Premat)
  • 8. Austria (Mathias Lauda)
  • 9. Brazil (Nelson Piquet Jr.)Did not finish
  • 10. Canada (Sean McIntosh)
  • 11. Germany (Timo Scheider)
  • 12. China (Tengyi Jiang)
  • 13. Pakistan (Enrico Toccacelo)
  • 14. Mexico (David Martinez)
  • 15. Lebanon (Basil Shaaban)
  • 16. Malaysia (Alex Yoong)
  • 17. Ireland (Ralph Firman)
  • 18. India (Armaan Ebrahim)
  • 19. Indonesia (Ananda Mikola)
  • 20. Britain (Robbie Kerr)
  • 21. Czech Republic (Tomas Enge)
  • 22. Australia (Will Davison)
  • 23. United States (Philip Giebler)

 

Overall standings

 

  • 1. France, 120 points.
  • 2. Switzerland, 92.
  • 3. Brazil, 63.
  • 4. Britain, 58.
  • 5. New Zealand, 54.
  • 6. Portugal, 50.
  • 7. Ireland, 44.
  • 8. Netherlands, 44.
  • 9. Malaysia, 33.
  • 10. Canada, 32.
  • 11. Czech Republic, 30.
  • 12. Australia, 29.
  • 13. Italy, 26.
  • 14. Mexico, 20.
  • 15. South Africa, 20.

 

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