Thrills and spills at A1GP Durban

25 February 2008

In an incident-filled feature race run in hot and humid conditions, Switzerland’s Neel Jani recovered from a sleepless night caused by stomach problems to score his third win of the A1GP season in the streets of Durban on Sunday afternoon.

The race ended behind the safety car after an accident involving South Africa’s Adrian Zaugg brought out the red flag with five minutes to go.

Loic Duval, driving his last race for Team France, finished an excellent second after starting from eighth on the grid. He was followed across the line by Filipe Albuquerque, who was making his debut for Team Portugal.

Collision
Zaugg, who was running a hard-earned sixth after starting from 15th on the grid, collided with Team Netherlands’ Jeroen Bleekemolen when the South African failed to stop in time as he came down the inside of turn one.

The incident resulted in several other cars making contact with each other as the field, bunched together because of a restart following one of several red flag incidents that brought out the safety car, crowded into the tight hairpin bend.

Because of the red flag conditions, the result of the race was determined by the order at the end of the previous lap, which put South Africa in seventh place.

“I’m really sorry for what happened,” a contrite Zaugg said after the race. “I didn’t keep my brakes and tyres warm enough while we were behind the safety car before the restart.

‘I lost control’
“I was crowded into a tighter line into the hairpin than I’d taken at any other time and it was very slippery there. I couldn’t stop the car in time, and when I hit the curb I lost control of the car, and ran into the side of Team Netherlands.”

It was a sad end to what was otherwise a masterful performance that saw Zaugg in 11th place at half distance, having made up four places in the first 24 laps.

He was eighth after the second of the two compulsory pit stops, following a slick change of all four tyres by Team South Africa, and looked set for a good points-scoring result. However, it was not to be, although South Africa did enough to retain fourth place in the championship with three rounds remaining after picking up four points for seventh place.

Sprint race
Earlier in the day, Zaugg finished 13th in the sprint race behind first-time winner Robert Wickens of Canada after starting from 20th on the 22-car grid. Great Britain was second and Switzerland third.

Zaugg fought hard against the odds to achieve a targeted 10th place at the finish – which would have earned Team South Africa a championship point – and a strong performance saw him overtake nine cars in the 20-minute race.

Ultimately, he finished 11th on the road after Germany ran into the back of the Netherlands and South Africa passed Pakistan.

The race ended behind the safety car after it was red-flagged and the result was based on the positions at the end of the penultimate lap. Germany was subsequently excluded from the result as a result of its driver’s manoeuvre.

‘We’re very happy’
“We’re very happy to have salvaged enough points today to retain our fourth place in the championship,” said Mike Carroll, general manager of Team South Africa.

“Things might have been a lot different if we’d had better luck in qualifying yesterday. We should have qualified better.

“The team did a great job this weekend and their quick work in the second pit stop helped Adrian make up a significant place (South Africa passed Brazil) at an important time.”

Feature race

 

  • 1. Neel Jarni, Switzerland
  • 2. Loic Duval, France
  • 3. Filipe Albuquerque, Portugal
  • 4. Jeroen Bleekemolen, Netherlands
  • 5. Fairuz Fauzy, Malaysia
  • 6. Congfu Cheng, China
  • 7. Adrian Zaugg, South Africa
  • 8. Edoardo Piscopo, Italy
  • 9. Bruno Junqueira, Brazil
  • 10. Jonny Reid, New Zealand

Sprint race

 

  • 1. Robert Wickens, Canada
  • 2. Oliver Jarvis, Great Britain
  • 3. Neel Jarni, Switzerland
  • 4. Congfu Cheng, China
  • 5. Jeroen Bleekemolen, Netherlands
  • 6. John Martin, Australia
  • 7. Filipe Albuquerque, Portugal
  • 8. David Garza, Mexico
  • 9. Fairuz Fauzy, Malaysia
  • 10. Jonathan Summerton, USA
  • 13. Adrian Zaugg, South Africa

Championship Standings

 

  • 1. Switzerland 118
  • 2. France 108
  • 3. New Zealand 98
  • 4. South Africa 83
  • 5. Germany 77
  • 6. Great Britain 70
  • 7. Netherlands 69
  • 8. Canada 52
  • 9. Ireland 50
  • 10. China 43

 

The next race on the A1GP calendar takes place in Mexico City over the weekend of 14-16 March.

Source: A1GP World Cup of Motorsport