A1GP: South Africa race review
The Sprint Race:
Team GB's Robbie Kerr had a better than average qualifying session on Saturday and started from 2nd on the grid, predictably beside the French car on pole. The sprint race got off pretty smoothly at first, but then Robbie tried a massive lunge that wasn't on, outbraked himself and ended up in 4th behind France, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic, where he stayed for most of the rest of the race. There was a safety car period that seemed to go on forever (bearing in mind the sprint race is limited to 30min). Not much else happened until the last few laps when there were stricken cars seeminly near every corner. One that spun into an awkward sideways position on the exit of a corner was China. Before the marshalls could wave yellow flags, the Lebanese car hit it's rear wing. When the leaders came through there were double waved yellows. Thomas Enge in the Czech Republic's car suffered a puncture on the broken carbon fibre that littered the track by this point and he was passed by several cars but still managed to finish 5th. That took Robbie Kerr up to 3rd.
The best action was yet to happen though. Race leader Premat was slow having passed the wreckage of the China car. Jos Verstappen tried to take advantage and make a pass round the outside of the next corner that just wasn't there. He tagged Premat heavily in the sidepod. Verstappen spun out to be narrowly missed by Kerr who took 2nd place back. Premat amazingly managed to keep control of his car and also avoided a last corner passing attempt by Kerr to take another win for Team France.
What I don't understand though is that the studio pundits for the Sky Sports coverage - Keith Huewen and Andy Priaulx - were both full of praise for Jos "the boss", claiming that it was worth a try and that realy racers were never happy with second place. I'm affraid they were wrong on both counts in my opinion. The pass was never on as anyone could see from the replays. It was hardly worth trying to pass on the outside anyway, but when the cars came together Jos's front wheels where only just ahead of Premat's rear wheels. Jos should have braked before then an accepted 2nd place. Secondly, in A1GP 2nd place is worth 9 points to 10 point for 1st place - hardly any reward for a difficult pass on a street circuit. Not only that, but finishing places in the sprint race define the grid for the feature race. Instead of starting on the front row, Verstappen would be starting 16th.
The Feature Race:
The feature race was extremely eventful with many retirements unfortunately. Both Team GB's Robbie Kerr and Team France's Alexandre Premat had their races ruined by poor pitstops near the start of the race. Premat's right rear wheel wouldn't come off without a lot of difficulty. When he eventually got out of the pits he was black flagged for having two mechanics working on a wheel at the same time. He came in and served a drive-through penalty losing him further time. Eventually clawed his way back to finish 7th, but later had 25 seconds added to his race time for serving his drive-through under yellow flag conditions. That left him 8th which must make this France's worst race in the whole season so far.
Robbie's woes were rather more spectacular as he took off after his pitstop with an airgun trapped under the front of his car and the hose trailing along behind. Fortunately he left the pits under safety car conditions so the other drivers wisely kept their distance and Robbie returned to the pits at the end of the lap. The airgun was removed and Robbie rejoined the race in last position. He managed to pass a few cars before retiring after a spin caused by aerodynamic damage to the car.
Everyone will talk about the last lap where Jos Verstappen passed then leader Neel Jani for the lead, but in actual fact it wasn't a repeat of the sprint race last lap. Jani had a brake problem and Jos passed him easily on the straight before the corner at which he tagged Premat in the sprint race (contrary to some accounts of the race). Jos rightly deserves praise for getting into 2nd place from 16th on the grid to be able to take advantage of Jani's problem though. He certainly went from zero to hero in the feature race.
The local fans also had something to cheer as multiple retirements in the last 10 laps allowed the South African entry to climb to 5th place by the finish. Matt Halliday also had a great drive for New Zealand making many true overtaking manouvres to place 4th.
Durban got the rewards of a great A1GP race in return for constructing a purpose built street circuit for the series and having the greatest attendance since the first round at Brands Hatch. Many thought the track would be too tight to see any decent racing, but that wasn't the case due to the pro-overtaking design of the A1GP cars and the non-conservative driving of the competitors. It really put a smile on my face to see so much interest from the locals. They haven't had Formula 1 in South Aftica for a long time now and while other countries have dismissed A1, the resident of Durban really got in the spirit. Seeing cars stream round the streets, lined by concrete walls and temporary grandstands and overlooked by appartment blocks and hotels reminded me of Champcar street races in the USA and Canada rather than F1's only street circuit in Monaco. The full grandstands and plentiful overtaking made for a better scene than any Champcar race I've seen lately though. Well done Durban, well done South Africa, well done Jos Verstappen and well done A1GP!
I’d like to apply for a car racing career in South Africa.Please imform me of the entry requirements, or else kindly send me a eference adress if you dont specify in such applications.
Ntokozo Zwane () (URL) - 26 07 07 - 07:50
i wish to apply for a car racing career in South Africa and i need information about its entry requirements, and kindly send me a reference address if you dont specify in such applications
Opeke Olumide () - 19 01 09 - 04:58