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Team Portugal wins Chengdu Feature Race

A1GP in China
Sunday, November 09, 2008

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Filipe Albuquerque (POR), driver of A1 Team Portugal gets doused on the podium by Adam Carroll
A1GP

Filipe Albuquerque claimed A1 Team Portugal’s maiden win in the A1GP Chengdu, China, Feature race to become the 17th different nation to take an A1GP victory.

Portugal took the lead thanks to a slick first pit stop and held off the charge from A1 Team Ireland’s Adam Carroll in the closing stages. Great Britain’s Danny Watts took the final podium position after starting on pole but dropping back after his two mandatory pit stops.

From pole position, Watts made a good start to lead the pack into the first corner. Portugal also made a great start from third to challenge Ireland for second position. Ireland, starting on the dirtier side of the track, struggled to get traction, allowing Portugal to get a good run round the outside of turn one on the racing line and take the position. Starting eighth, Robert Doornbos’s A1 Team Netherlands car stalled on the grid. The safety car was deployed before the end of the first lap to allow his car to be pushed back to the pits. The team got the car re-started and Doornbos made his way back out, albeit a lap down.

Great Britain led from Portugal, Ireland and Monaco as the race re-started on lap four. Watts powered across the line with a clear gap at the front. Carroll was right on the back of the Portuguese car and had a look around the outside through turn one, while also defending from Monaco’s Clivio Piccione in fourth.

Watts’ lead was now 1.5-seconds from Portugal as the first mandatory pit stop window opened. Great Britain was first to dive into the pits with Monaco, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand and China also following suit. A lap later Ireland pitted and a quick, clean tire change from the Irish squad got Carroll back out on track in second. But when Albuquerque pitted on the next lap, a blisteringly quick stop from the team handed Portugal what would be the lead of the race, after the field had all pitted.

Filipe Albuquerque (POR), just beats Adam Carroll at the line.
A1GP
As Great Britain and Ireland made their way through traffic, Albuquerque began building up a comfortable lead. New Zealand appeared to be slowing along the pit straight with an electrical problem, but Chris van der Drift eventually managed to get Black Beauty going with seemingly no further problem.

By the end of lap 14 Portugal had a 2.385-second lead from Great Britain, and Switzerland was starting to hunt down Ireland for third. Albuquerque increased his lead to four seconds, leaving him in a strong position at the head of the field.

Portugal now led from Great Britain, Ireland, Switzerland, Australia, Malaysia, Monaco, France, USA and China.

Daniel Morad
A1GP
Further down the field Lebanon’s Daniel Morad was having a good battle with Italy for 14th as the second pit stop window drew closer. For the second round of mandatory pit stops it was Portugal and Great Britain who were first to come in. Ireland took advantage of the extra time out on track, Carroll pushing hard on his in lap to try to make up time on the pair in front. Portugal re-joined in the lead but Watts emerged in traffic, losing vital seconds. A1 Team Ireland made another great stop and Carroll was able to take second from Watts and set his sights on a second win of the day. On new tires, Carroll set the fastest lap of the race so far, 1m 16.003s, his pace allowing him to close the gap on Albuquerque and as the pair started lap 33 Carroll was visibly closer, just 0.422-seconds adrift.

The order was now Portugal, Ireland, Great Britain, Switzerland, Australia, Malaysia, France, Monaco, USA and India.

After going a lap down at the start Doornbos, from Rotterdam in the Netherlands, showed what might have been if he had got away cleanly from his eighth grid-slot. He clocked the fastest lap of the race, a 1m 15.212s on lap 33, faster than yesterday’s pole position time, set by Danny Watts.

On lap 35 the battle for fifth began to heat up as Malaysia’s Fairuz Fauzy challenged John Martin for position. Fauzy eventually passed the Australian two laps later with a great move around the outside of the first corner. On lap 38, France’s Nicolas Prost tried the same maneuver on Martin, but gave him a little too much space and spun into the gravel on the exit after getting onto the dirtier part of the track.

The safety car was deployed for a second time on lap 40 as the French car was recovered. With the pack bunched back together, all advantages were lost and when the race re-started five laps later the race was back on to the finish.

Marco Andretti did better in the feature race, but he quickly learned just how good it can be to race against international talent.
A1GP
A1 Team USA’s Marco Andretti was now running in eighth on his debut weekend as the cars came around for the re-start. Ireland was now in prime position to challenge for victory. As racing resumed Portugal and Ireland were both on the PowerBoost button into Turn One. Ireland momentarily edged alongside, but Albuquerque held station and despite a number of exciting challenges the top eight remained the same to the finish. South Africa’s Adrian Zaugg and China’s Ho-Pin Tung were the only nations to move forward in the closing stages, taking 9th and 12th respectively.

Despite all Carroll’s efforts, Filipe Albuquerque crossed the finish line to take the team’s first ever series victory and became the 17th nation to win in A1GP. Malaysia’s fifth position was enough to hold on to the championship lead, but Ireland’s points haul brought the team right into contention. It now sits equal second with France on 23 points.

Race winner Albuquerque said: “The lap times were getting faster and faster. In the second stint, I was really fast, faster than anyone else. I was pulling away and had four seconds and everything was under control. But then Ireland was way too fast with the new tires. I could not go any faster so I just had to keep the car on the track, not make any mistakes and get the win."

After a successful day in which he claimed Sprint victory and second in the Feature race, Ireland’s Carroll said: “Well that’s the start we really wanted at Zandvoort. I came here determined to have the best weekend we could and at least try to win a race or come away with a couple of podiums.

“Practice actually hadn’t gone that well but I knew the circuit was extremely tricky and put the new tires on to try to do a good lap in qualifying as you had to start at the front here to try and win. It’s just great for the team and everybody. It’s the confidence we all need and I really think we can challenge the rest of the season for the championship.”

Third placed Great Britain driver Watts said: “How quickly the ten days have gone from getting the call, getting on a plane and arriving here to walk around the circuit. We never would have thought we’d be going away with two podiums - two third places.

“When I saw the car when we arrived here, it was still in bits with a lot to do. I think the two podiums have to go to the mechanics. They’ve been working so hard through the nights so it’s been a huge effort from everyone within the team. For them, it’s been a fantastic weekend. We’re just really glad to come out of our first weekend in A1GP with a big haul of points.”

Results

Pos

A1 Team Driver Laps Time Gap
1 Portugal Filipe Albuquerque 51 1:11'23.179 0.000
2 Ireland Adam Carroll 51 1:11'23.750 0.571
3 Great Britain Danny Watts 51 1:11'27.981 4.802
4 Switzerland Neel Jani 51 1:11'30.336 7.157
5 Malaysia Fairuz Fauzy 51 1:11'36.481 13.302
6 Australia John Martin 51 1:11'38.723 15.544
7 Monaco Clivio Piccione 51 1:11'39.415 16.236
8 USA Marco Andretti 51 1:11'39.869 16.690
9 South Africa Adrian Zaugg 51 1:11'41.209 18.030
10 India Narain Karthikeyan 51 1:11'41.938 18.759
11 New Zealand Chris van der Drift 51 1:11'42.854 19.675
12 China Ho-Pin Tung 51 1:11'43.305 20.126
13 Lebanon Daniel Morad 51 1:11'45.759 22.580
14 Indonesia Satrio Hermanto 51 1:11'54.464 31.285
15 Mexico David Garza 50 1:11'37.063 1 lap
16 Netherlands Robert Doornbos 50 1:11'40.217 1 lap
17 Korea Jin-Woo Hwang 50 1:11'58.454 1 lap
18 France Nicolas Prost 37 50'48.185 14 laps
19 Italy Edoardo Piscopo 30 42'26.221 21 laps
20 Brazil Felipe Guimarães 13 19'28.502 38 laps

Fastest Laps

Pos

A1 Team Driver Time Gap Lap
1 Netherlands Robert Doornbos   1'15.212 0.000 33
2 Ireland Adam Carroll   1'16.003   0.791 28
3 India Narain Karthikeyan   1'16.315   1.103 27
4 South Africa Adrian Zaugg   1'16.375   1.163 31
5 Portugal Filipe Albuquerque   1'16.475   1.263 50
6 China Ho-Pin Tung   1'16.582   1.370 27
7 USA Marco Andretti   1'16.693   1.481 29
8 Great Britain Danny Watts   1'16.737   1.525 49
9 Malaysia Fairuz Fauzy   1'16.773   1.561 30
10 France Nicolas Prost   1'16.968   1.756 30
11 Australia John Martin   1'17.015   1.803 27
12 Italy Edoardo Piscopo   1'17.032   1.820 28
13 Switzerland Neel Jani   1'17.048   1.836 31
14 Mexico David Garza   1'17.085   1.873 32
15 Monaco Clivio Piccione   1'17.164   1.952 37
16 New Zealand Chris van der Drift   1'17.421   2.209 28
17 Lebanon Daniel Morad   1'17.549   2.337 30
18 Indonesia Satrio Hermanto   1'17.888   2.676 47
19 Korea Jin-Woo Hwang   1'18.597   3.385 30
20 Brazil Felipe Guimarães   1'19.701   4.489 5

Point Standings

Pos  A1 Team  Points
1 Malaysia 28
2 Ireland 23
3 France 23
4 New Zealand 20
5 Netherlands 20
6 Portugal 18
7 Switzerland 17
8 Great Britain 16
9 Australia 13
10 South Africa 9
11 Monaco 9
12 USA 6
13 Korea 4
14 Lebanon 3
15 Italy 2
16 China 2
17 India 1
0 Indonesia 0
0 Brazil 0
0 Mexico 0

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