A1GP gets ready for Eastern Creek return
Eastern Creek, Australia – A1GP World Cup of Motorsport organizers have high hopes for the seventh race meeting on their 2006/07 calendar which will be held at the Eastern Creek International Raceway this weekend (2-4 February). The New South Wales track attracted over 50,000 race fans for its first A1GP weekend 15 months ago and it was declared a great success.
A1 Team Australia will once again be lead by Karl Reindler, with Ian Dyk as Rookie, and for Alan Jones, Seat Holder for A1 Team Australia, there is a feeling that the home-crowd advantage combined with local track knowledge will bolster the Team and regain some of the fantastic momentum that they started the season with.
“When you hear the roar of the crowd and see the wash of green and gold supporters, you can’t help but pick up your game and give it your all! Last year was an extraordinary display of national spirit, but we do have a fantastic multi-cultural mix here in Australia so although we plan to use the home-crowd to our own advantage I know that every team out there will find their fair share of supporters. But that will just make the racing and the competition all the more exciting!” said Alan.
“The track at Eastern Creek is a challenging one with a lot of idiosyncrasies. Parts are quite bumpy which means suspension is very important, so drivers need to work closely with the crew to get it exactly right in order to get the most out of their car. There is a very long straight mixed with plenty of turns around the back of the track so the aerodynamics are always changing – so car set-up and strategy, as always, will be key to a Team’s success,” added Alan.
Last year it was A1 Team France making the headlines with pole position and two wins, but with seven different teams claiming wins this season it would be a brave person betting on the outcome of either race. This year it is the German team heading the points’ standings after four wins by Nico Hülkenberg in the Netherlands, Malaysia and two weeks’ ago in New Zealand, but that doesn’t mean second placed France, can be discounted. Nicolas Lapierre, who won here last year, may now have left to concentrate on the GP2 series, but he has happily left the pride of the French nation in the hands of Loic Duval, who finished second in both races in Taupo.
Most drivers have been spending time between the races in New Zealand and Australia having some well earned rest and relaxation. However, some have been testing and one such driver, who was the other side of the world and planned to drive in Eastern Creek, was Malaysia Sprint race winner, Neel Jani. Unfortunately the A1 Team Switzerland driver has had to drop out and let Sebastien Buemi, who was fifth and fourth respectively in Taupo, continue for another weekend. Motor racing is dangerous, but for Jani it was injuring his hand in the door of a road car on the way back from testing in America that ended his chances of taking part.
With Australia Day just a week before the cars take to the track on Friday, this presented a great opportunity to let local fans get up close and personal with A1 Team Australia. The team took its car to Queen Square in Sydney and held a pit stop challenge as part of the NRMA Motorfest Exhibition. Those taking part were given two free tickets for the race and also able to chat to A1 Team Australia drivers Karl Reindler, Barton Mawer and Ian Dyk.
During the first A1GP race in Eastern Creek in November 2005, the racing was fast and furious and some of the most exciting witnessed at the track. While no one there will surely forget the series’ biggest accident to date when the A1 Team Japan car hit the barriers at high speed, the message was firmly sent out that the A1GP cars were most probably the strongest and safest on the world’s race tracks. Hayanari Shimoda was taken to hospital for mandatory checks, but within 24 hours was flying back to Europe to take part in a race the following weekend.