2 October 2006
He’s not yet 20 years of age, but South Africa’s Adrian Zaugg showed he is ready for the big time when he won the A1 Grand Prix sprint race at Zandvoort, the Netherlands on Saturday with a brilliant display on his debut in the championship.
He served notice that he wasn’t competing to make up the numbers in qualifying as he stunned the field by gaining pole position.
Zaugg, whose racing background is in karting, said starting on the front row of the grid was an emotional moment and something he never expected to achieve. Well, in the race he took it a step further.
Mexico’s Salvador Duran got the jump on Zaugg at the start of the 12 laps of the 4.3-kilometre Zandvoort circuit, but the South African struck back almost immediately to take the lead.
He went on to lead every lap of the sprint event, gradually easing away from Duran, a two-time winner of sprint events in the A1GP.
At the end, the race order was Zaugg, followed by Duran, with France’s Nicolas Lapierre in third.
Vulindela perfectly prepared
Zaugg’s car, called Vulindela – meaning “clear the way” – and sporting the colours of the South African flag, appeared to be perfectly prepared, and the 19-year-old was full of praise for his team afterwards.
“Thanks to the team,” he said. “They gave me a great car.
“It’s a fantastic feeling to win my first race in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport. I was watching [Duran and Lapierre] in the last season of A1GP and saw them win races. I am very proud to stand between them here today.”
Zaugg’s participation in the feature race on Sunday came to an abrupt and early end.
Surprised by early braking
Starting from pole, he got away slowly and reached the first corner in fourth position only. Then, as he braked for turn two, he was surprised as Darren Manning of Team Great Britain braked a little earlier than he had expected.
Zaugg’s front wing went under the back of Manning’s car, and Vulindela’s front wheels lifted off the ground. Zaugg lost control and crashed into the tyre barrier and out of the race.
“Sure, I’m disappointed, especially for the South African supporters,” said Zaugg. “We had hoped for much more, but that’s motor racing. One moment you are on top, the next you can be right down.”
Maybe so, but his victory on debut in the sprint race is a brilliant start to his A1GP career for the 19-year-old.