Hülkenberg wins Durban sprint race
Durban, South Africa - A1 Team Germany has taken pole position for this afternoon's Durban Feature race having comfortably won the 20-minute Sprint race on the challenging street circuit. Nico Hülkenberg took the lead from the rolling start but as the field followed through the tight turn one, the action began. Brazil, Lebanon and Malaysia all sustained damage from contact with other cars and an error from fourth placed Switzerland allowed the Netherlands to squeeze by.
As the three damaged cars pulled into the pits at the end of lap one, Germany's Nico Hülkenberg worked to increase his lead which he then maintained throughout the duration of the race. Brazil and Lebanon were both able to repair the damage sustained and return to the race, but for Malaysia it was too severe and the team retired.
While Germany continued to lead, battles for position continued further down the field. Singapore's bad weekend continued as Christian Murchison, who had been making his way up from a 22nd on the grid, thanks to a spin during qualifying, put the car in the tire wall at turn four in an unforced error on lap eight.
One lap later, Mexico's Salvador Duran pulled off at turn five suffering transmission failure while the USA's Jonathan Summerton (right) retired on lap 12 with drive line problems.
The seventh race win for Hülkenberg has put him on a par with A1 Team France's 2005/06 season driver Alexandre Premat, who holds the record for the most A1GP race wins by a single driver.
Commenting on his win and preparations for the upcoming 70-minute Feature race, Hülkenberg said: 'In the beginning it was pretty close, but the gap became bigger so it was more comfortable. The track was a bit slippery, it was not an easy race. When you are driving your adrenaline is pumping and you are focused so you do not feel the heat. However, it is very hot out here so it is important that we drink a lot of water.'
Loic Duval driving the second placed French car went on to say: 'I had a great start and a great race, but found some difficulty to overtake. I lost some time behind the Pakistan team despite the blue flag and found Matt gaining ground. It is a difficult track to drive, to stay on the race line and to overtake. The competition looks close and I am looking forward to the feature race this afternoon.'
New Zealand's Matt Halliday commented: 'It is a bit chaotic out there and found it difficult to stop the French car as Loic came around the inside to overtake. It is going to be a difficult Feature race, and the heat is tough on the drivers and the car. It will be important to maintain the tires and the car as well as get a good head start.'
So far it has not been the best weekend for A1 Team GBR and they were only able to make up one place from their starting position. This has meant the team has now dropped to sixth in the championship points, with both the Netherlands and Switzerland overtaking them.
Sprint race results
PosDriver A1 Team Time Gap First
1 Nico HÜLKENBERG GERMANY 19:57.070 -
2 Loic DUVAL FRANCE 19:59.851 +2.781
3 Matt HALLIDAY NEW ZEALAND 20:00.560 +3.490
4 Jeroen BLEEKEMOLEN NETHERLANDS 20:03.426 +6.356
5 Neel JANI SWITZERLAND 20:07.767 +10.697
6 Richard LYONS IRELAND 20:11.426 +14.356
7 Adrian ZAUGG SOUTH AFRICA 20:14.179 +17.109
8 Alvaro PARENTE PORTUGAL 20:16.017 +18.947
9 Robbie KERR GREAT BRITAIN 20:16.986 +19.916
10 Ananda MIKOLA INDONESIA 20:17.941 +20.871
11 Tomas ENGE CZECH REPUBLIC 20:19.537 +22.467
12 Enrico TOCCACELO ITALY 20:20.987 +23.917
13 James HINCHCLIFFE CANADA 20:30.597 +33.527
14 Ho-Pin TUNG CHINA 20:39.153 +42.083
15 Narain KARTHIKEYAN INDIA 20:41.155 +44.085
16 Karl REINDLER AUSTRALIA 21:15.050 +1:17.980
17 Bruno JUNQUEIRA BRAZIL 20:32.104 1 Lap
18 Nur ALI PAKISTAN 20:51.819 1 Lap
19 Allam KHODAIR LEBANON 21:14.936 1 Lap
20 Jonathan SUMMERTON USA 16:16.638 3 Laps
21 Salvador DURAN MEXICO 12:07.091 6 Laps
22 Christian MURCHISON SINGAPORE 11:02.387 7 Laps
Fastest lap: A1 Team Germany set the fastest lap of the Sprint race with a speed of 146.4 kph on lap four.