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Switzerland wins Durban feature race

A1GP in Durban, South Africa
Sunday, February 24, 2008

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Ex-Champ Car driver Neel Jani has been too much for the competition all year
Points leader Neel Jani driving for A1 Team Switzerland the action in Durban this afternoon to win the incident-packed Feature race, as the tricky turn one claimed numerous victims throughout the 48-lap race. Today's results move the Swiss team 10 points ahead of France in the championship standings while New Zealand now lies third, having scored a meager two points after enduring a frustrating weekend in South Africa.

Superb work by the French team in the pits helped Loic Duval on his way to securing second place behind Switzerland, an incredible feat considering the Frenchman only arrived at the track from Japan on Saturday morning and qualified eighth. Portuguese rookie Filipe Albuquerque wowed the crowds by racing to third position from ninth on the grid, taking an impressive first podium on his A1GP debut.

Jani on the top step of the victory podium
With just nine laps remaining, Canada's Robert Wickens, who was on great form and running in second for much of the race, spun out at turn one and was hit by GBR's Oliver Jarvis as he rounded the tight hairpin and could not avoid the Canadian car. The incident brought out the safety car and no sooner had the race restarted than it was all over due to am ambitious move from local hero Adrian Zaugg. The South African driver, who started 15th, had climbed to seventh when he made a determined dive down the inside at turn one and hit the unlucky Jeroen Bleekemolen in the Dutch car, causing a major pile up involving five cars. Bleekemolen was out of the race, which continued for a short period under the safety car, but still classified in fourth position when the race was brought to a premature end by a red flag.

It was the third time during the Feature race that a multi-car incident at turn one led to a safety car period when the field squeezed through the tight hairpin eager to take advantage of one of the few overtaking spots on the narrow street circuit. Malaysia's Fairuz Fauzy had a superb afternoon, making his way through the field to finish fifth, having started from 12th on the grid. China's Congfu Cheng was also on impressive form, racing from 11th to sixth and collecting a bonus point for setting the fastest lap.

Khalil Beschir was heartbroken as the Lebanese driver was on course to score his nation's first ever championship point when the race was red-flagged with just one lap remaining.

Feature race winner and championship leader Switzerland's Neel Jani, who has been suffering with a stomach bug and dehydration, was grateful for the safety car periods:

'I had a lot of stomach pain and cramps and obviously many runs to the toilet, so this morning I felt really bad. I got two liters of fluids by drip and that was a little bit better afterwards but still the cramps and everything was still going on, so the race was really tough and in the end I really had problems to concentrate. I really felt how dehydrated I was and the concentration was really getting tough in the end so I was happy with all the safety cars. My mechanics did a superb job. They got the car ready and the pit stops were good, so I have to thank the team that they gave me again the car and I just had to drive it.'

France's Loic Duval, who will not be able to compete in the remaining three rounds of the A1GP season due to prior commitments, was very happy with second in the Feature race today and thought it was one of the best races of his A1GP career:

'The team did a great job. We overtook everybody. I mean on the track we were faster than them and fortunately for us Canada spun - I was pretty lucky actually because I almost crashed into him. It was just a great race, maybe the best of A1GP for me. It's like a victory for us so now I feel really happy. I want to thank all my team because it's the last race for me. I want to wish them the best for the rest of the season.' Portuguese newcomer Filipe Albuquerque was pleased to finish on the podium at his first A1GP event:

'I was pushing all the time and it was easy to make mistakes because the tires were getting worse. I did some mistakes also, but it happens to everyone and it's not easy to push for over 40 laps without making a mistake. I'm happy with a third place, I built up to fifth so I was already very happy because I came up from ninth after the first corner and the speed was good. Not enough like Switzerland or France but enough to be P3.'

Switzerland leaves Durban on 118 points ahead of France on 108 and New Zealand on 98, as the thrilling nation versus nation series heads to Mexico City for round eight of the 10-event championship on 14-16 March 2008.

Feature race results

POS DRIVER A1 TEAM LAPS TIME GAP FIRST KPH
1 Neel JANI SWITZERLAND 41 01:55.330 - 146
2 Loic DUVAL FRANCE 41 01:56.381 +1.051 146
3 Filipe ALBUQUERQUE PORTUGAL 41 01:57.264 +1.934 145
4 Jeroen BLEEKEMOLEN NETHERLANDS 41 01:58.708 +3.378 146
5 Fairuz FAUZY MALAYSIA 41 01:59.879 +4.549 144
6 Congfu CHENG CHINA 41 02:00.314 +4.984 146
7 Adrian ZAUGG SOUTH AFRICA 41 02:00.970 +5.640 145
8 Edoardo PISCOPO ITALY 41 02:01.892 +6.562 145
9 Bruno JUNQUEIRA BRAZIL 41 02:14.854 +19.524 144
10 Jonny REID NEW ZEALAND 41 02:15.550 +20.220 146
11 Oliver JARVIS GREAT BRITAIN 40 03:20.739 1 Lap 146
12 Robert WICKENS CANADA 39 58:16.230 2 Laps 146
13 Khalil BESCHIR LEBANON 39 01:55.694 2 Laps 140
14 John MARTIN AUSTRALIA 39 02:33.307 2 Laps 143
15 Adam CARROLL IRELAND 35 02:32.070 6 Laps 144
16 Josef KRAL CZECH REPUBLIC 33 02:03.530 8 Laps 141
17 Parthiva SURESHWAREN INDIA 29 47:19.860 12 Laps 140
18 Jonathan SUMMERTON USA 25 41:11.057 16 Laps 143
19 David GARZA MEXICO 18 31:50.475 23 Laps 141
20 Michael AMMERMÃoLLER GERMANY 3 06:09.229 38 Laps 95.2
21 Satrio HERMANTO INDONESIA 3 06:13.039 38 Laps 99.7
22 Adam KHAN PAKISTAN 3 06:14.096 38 Laps 97.6


2007/08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport points standings

POS A1 TEAM POINTS
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
11 Brazil 40
12 India 28
13 Mexico 22
14 Australia 20
15 Portugal 19
16 USA 13
17 Czech Republic 10
18 Malaysia 10
19 Italy 7
20 Pakistan 1

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