Team Germany wins Sprint race Taupo - A1 Team Germany has taken its first Sprint race win, putting the car on pole for this afternoon's Feature race. While the German car led from start to finish and was never under serious pressure, the rest of the field did not have this luxury as there were fierce battles for position being fought down the field to the final lap.
The first start was aborted after A1 Team France failed to take its correct grid position for the rolling start but after a second formation lap, the race got underway. As the teams fought hard to improve on their grid positions into turn one the first incident of the race occurred with a collision between Great Britain and Malaysia which broke the red white and blue car's front wing and caused the more seriously damaged right yellow car into the pits and to retirement at the end of the lap.
The pack approached turn two with race leaders Germany, France and New Zealand edging away from the field, but once again the high-winds and dusty track meant the slightest mistake could end in disaster as Lebanon's Alex Khateeb locked up and went into the back of A1 Team Singapore. The safety car was deployed as the stricken Singaporean car was removed from the track and as it pulled off at the end of lap five, New Zealand, France, Germany, Netherlands and Switzerland maintained their starting positions and led the race.
With positions set at the top of the field and the race leaders pulling ahead of the rest of the pack, it was the red, white and blue car of A1 Team Great Britain, still showing the damage from its earlier collision with Malaysia that came under attack. Knowing a pit stop would push the team too far back, the car did not stop for repairs and A1 Team South Africa were first to take advantage of the car's troubles, overtaking on lap six. Italy was next to make its move but British driver Robbie Kerr would not be deterred and held the line forcing Italy to pull back and lose a place to Brazil as the car came up on the inside.
A1 Team Germany, Nico Hulkenberg: 'The first start wasn't good and then for the second one there was no problem. At the beginning I had a bit of a problem with my car and Loic was putting me under pressure. But then it got better and better and now I am happy. We have to put a lot of fuel in for the main race so we always have to change some little things.'
A1 Team France, Loic Duval: 'I made a good start and Nico was a little bit earlier on the throttle so I was second. I was a little bit faster than him but it was difficult to overtake him. It would have been stupid to take a risk in this race so that is why I was second and that is okay for me. I think I can perhaps catch Nico in the next race, we will see. It will be a long race with pit stops. I think we have a good car and for the second one for sure I will stay near him and if I can overtake I will try.'
A1 Team New Zealand, Jonny Reid: 'I will take that third. It was tough work out there as the start was difficult because I could not see the lights because Nico's wing was in my way so I was trying to re-arrange myself in the cockpit just so I could see the lights go out. I had a look inside the French car at the start but there was no room for me so I had to settle for third from there. I think I may be able to catch these guys in the next race why not. The car was reasonable and there is a small change we can make that I know will make it go quicker. It wasn't perfect but I am sure we can get it right for the main race."
A1 Team Driver Time Gap first 1 Germany Nico Hulkenberg 19:49.089 2 France Loic Duval 19:52.836 +3.747 3 New Zealand Jonny Reid 19:53.304 +4.215 4 Netherlands Jeroen Bleekemolen 19:56.621 +7.532 5 Switzerland Sebastien Buemi 19:56.891 +7.802 6 Canada James Hinchcliffe 19:57.898 +8.809 7 South Africa Alan van der Merwe 20:05.413 +16.324 8 Great Britain Robbie Kerr 20:18.182 +29.093 9 Italy Enrico Toccacelo 20:18.606 +29.517 10 India Narain Karthikeyan 20:18.720 +29.631 11 USA Ryan Hunter Reay 20:19.226 +30.137 12 Mexico Salvador Duran 20:19.623 +30.534 13 China Ho-Pin Tung 20:20.519 +31.430 14 Australia Karl Reindler 20:20.775 +31.686 15 Indonesia Ananda Mikola 20:21.865 +32.776 16 Brazil Raphael Matos 20:24.896 +35.807 17 Czech Republic Tomas Enge 20:40.636 +51.547 18 Pakistan Nur Ali 20:59.999 +1:10.910 19 Malaysia Alex Yoong 20:23.674 1 Lap 20 Ireland Richard Lyons 9:54.772 8 laps 21 Lebanon Alex Khateeb 11:17.285 8 Laps 22 Singapore Christian Murchison - -
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