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Guenter Reinhold

The Netherlands Take First Win in 45 Races

A1GP Sprint race at Kyalami
Sunday, February 22, 2009

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Sprint race podium, (L to R) Filipe Albuquerque (POR), driver of A1 Team Portugal, Jeroen Bleekemolen (NED), driver of A1 Team Netherlands and Neel Jani (SUI), driver of A1 Team Switzerland

Gauteng, South Africa – Jeroen Bleekemolen took the Netherlands’ first victory in Season Four in this morning’s Go-GP.Org A1GP Gauteng, South Africa Sprint race.  Bleekemolen drove a faultless race around the 2.65-mile Kyalami circuit to win by 4.407-seconds from Portugal’s Filipe Albuquerque. Switzerland’s Neel Jani had a good start to move up to second off the standing start, but finished third after losing time trying to maneuver round Malaysia’s car, which had pitted in front of him.

Bleekemolen made a clean getaway from the standing start to lead the chasing pack into turn one for the first time. Switzerland had a great start from third to take second position from Portugal while India’s Narain Karthikeyan also had a good start to move up from fifth to fourth.

India was not able to hold position for long as an aggressive move by Clivio Piccione moved Monaco ahead into fourth with Ireland’s Adam Carroll also sensing an opportunity to get ahead only a few corners later, so pushing India down to sixth.

China's Ho Pin Tung and New Zealand's Earl Bamber were having a good battle for eleventh. China made a move at turn 13 on lap three but out-braked himself allowing New Zealand to re-take the position.

Malaysia’s Fairuz Fauzy moved up ahead of France’s Nicolas Prost for eighth, while the Netherlands’ was storming away at the front with Bleekemolen having a 4.686-second lead over Switzerland by lap four.

Jeroen Bleekemolen took the Netherlands’ car to the front at the start
With the order now the Netherlands from Switzerland, Portugal, Monaco, Ireland, India, South Africa, Malaysia, France and Italy, the pit window opened. The Netherlands and Switzerland were first in the pits with the following three runners staying out on track an extra lap. Bleekemolen had a smooth stop but Switzerland lost time having to get away slowly to maneuver round Malaysia’s car, which had pitted just in front. Portugal pitted a lap later and was able to re-take second from Switzerland.

A1 Team Australia’s fantastic pit work boosted John Martin six places up the field to his eventual finishing position, twelfth. While A1 Team New Zealand moved up three places after the stop.

Portugal then set about a charge scoring the fastest lap of the race on lap nine with a time of 1m29.072s, slightly closing the gap to the Netherlands.

Further down the field, Great Britain’s Danny watts and Brazil’s Felipe Guimarães came together fighting for fifteenth. The pair touched heading into turn one with Watts’ car spinning into the gravel and out the race.

Jeroen Bleekemolen celebrates
A very happy Bleekemolen came through to take the checkered flag and record the team’s first win in 45 races. Obviously South Africa is lucky for the team because its first of three wins to date was round the streets of Durban in Season One.

Switzerland and Portugal completed the podium with Ireland taking fourth from Monaco on the last lap, retaining its championship lead.

Race winner Jeroen Bleekemolen said: “It all just went amazingly. It was a very hard race for me though, because in the beginning I could feel there was some kind of pull with the fuel pick up. It didn’t cost me any time but I could just feel it coming. And then after the pit stop the car just stopped and I feared the race would be over, but it started working again. I lost about one and half or two seconds, but luckily we were still able to win.

“In the beginning we were really quick, I don’t know why we were so much faster, but everything worked. The car worked really well until the problem came but then it still was exciting for me.”

Portugal’s Filipe Albuquerque said: “The team did a very good job and I managed to pass Switzerland. I’m really happy with the fastest lap and second place.”

“I’m still aiming for the lead of the championship. It’s going to be an interesting Feature race now because we are all together in the middle of the grid. We will see who the luckiest guy is because anything can happen. “

Switzerland’s Neel Jani said: “We were second and then unfortunately we had some problems at the pit stop. First of all the pit stop was not that quick, and then I couldn’t get out because Malaysia was parked in front of me.  We have to be happy with third though as its still points so let’s see what happens in the next race."

Sprint Race Results

Pos

A1 Team

Driver

Laps

Time

Gap First

1

NETHERLANDS

Jeroen BLEEKEMOLEN

14

21:35.105

0.000

2

PORTUGAL

Filipe ALBUQUERQUE

14

21:39.512

4.407

3

SWITZERLAND

Neel JANI

14

21:45.705

10.600

4

IRELAND

Adam CARROLL

14

21:48.030

12.925

5

MONACO

Clivio PICCIONE

14

21:49.468

14.363

6

INDIA

Narain KARTHIKEYAN

14

21:53.579

18.474

7

SOUTH AFRICA

Adrian ZAUGG

14

21:56.283

21.178

8

NEW ZEALAND

Earl BAMBER

14

22:01.644

26.539

9

MALAYSIA

Fairuz FAUZY

14

22:02.030

26.925

10

FRANCE

Nicolas PROST

14

22:03.206

28.101

11

ITALY

Edoardo PISCOPO

14

22:07.186

32.081

12

AUSTRALIA

John MARTIN

14

22:09.579

34.474

13

CHINA

Ho Pin TUNG

14

22:12.909

37.804

14

GERMANY

Michael AMMERMULLER

14

22:14.173

39.068

15

BRAZIL

Felipe GUIMARAES

14

22:14.822

39.717

16

MEXICO

Salvador DURAN

14

22:20.111

45.006

17

USA

Marco ANDRETTI

14

22:30.741

55.636

18

INDONESIA

Zahir ALI

14

22:52.829

+1:17.724

19

GREAT BRITAIN

Danny WATTS

9

14:34.388

5 Laps

20

LEBANON

Daniel MORAD

6

22:55.340

8 Laps

Fastest lap: A1 Team Portugal set the fastest lap (1m29.072s) of the Sprint race with a speed of 172.3kph on lap 9.

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