Kerr takes easy win in Sprint race
Great Britain has made A1GP history today dominating the Brands Hatch Sprint race from start to finish so becoming the first team to win a home race in the series. Driver Robbie Kerr led from pole, setting a new circuit record on his final lap, and closing the gap in its battle with New Zealand for second place in the championship.
Great Britain's Robbie Kerr stormed off the grid slipping the red, white and blue car ahead of Germany's Nico Hülkenberg and pulling away throughout to build a lead that was never threatened. Behind them, all 23 teams made a clean start with the Netherlands, South Africa, Ireland and Mexico all gaining two places on their original starting positions.
The action began later into the first lap with a collision between Ireland and New Zealand. Irish luck was with the team as the car continued undamaged while Black Beauty lost its front wing, forcing a pit stop at the end of the lap, and pushing the team, currently defending second place in the championship from the Brits, to the back of the field. While driver, Matt Halliday fought to re-gain places, it was the retirement of others that eventually got the team to 16th on the Feature Race grid.
A trip into the gravel at Stirling's lost Mexico the two places it had gained off the grid, but new driver Juan Pablo Garcia, making his A1GP debut this weekend recovered the situation re-joining the track ahead of New Zealand. Stirling's corner was to gain a second victim of the day just one lap later as France went wide and also left the track temporarily. The slight mistake was enough for Italy's Enrico Toccacelo to take advantage, immediately seizing the opportunity to slip through for a third place finish.
As the race continued the field settled with most cars holding position. However, Switzerland began its challenge on South Africa for eighth towards the end of lap eight, with the cars crossing the start finish line side by side heading into Paddock Hill bend. Coming out of the bend South Africa and Switzerland locked wheels and headed off into the gravel, bringing an end to Switzerland's race while South Africa headed back on to the track to finish five places down in 13th.
For China, Pakistan and Lebanon the day has not started well with all three teams failing to finish the race. Gearbox problems forced China to pull into the pits and retire at the end of lap three while unforced errors from Pakistan and Lebanon saw them spin into the gravel at Druids and Sheen's respectively, failing to re-join the race.
Race winner, A1 Team Great Britain's Robbie Kerr said: 'It was a fantastic race and I had the race pace all the way through it. The car was handling well all the time. The handling changed a little bit during the race but you just change your style a little bit to cope with it and it was fantastic. I got a good start. I didn't really have to do anything, just drive a few corners and then keep my head down, a nice steady pace all the way through it and pull away.'
Great Britain's win reduced the championship points gap with New Zealand to just eight points with 11 still available this afternoon. On the prospect of taking second Kerr continued: 'I am not focusing on the possibility of second in the championship as I just have to get out there and do my job.'
Second placed Nico Hülkenberg driving for series champions Germany said: 'The start was not too bad but when I accelerated I stuck a bit in third gear because I went to the limiter and lost some meters there. Robbie had to close the door because France was tight behind me. But finally I saved second place. I still have to find a little bit more in the car as I think Robbie was quickest in the last couple of laps, but I had some problems. During practice I had some problems with my wrist as it is a very bumpy circuit. Now I have taped it and obviously there was no blood circulation any more and it was difficult to turn the car.'
Enrico Toccacelo took A1 Team Italy's fifth podium finish of the series, commenting: 'I'm really happy with the result because I was quite fast during the race and the balance of the car was good. I really hope to repeat that this afternoon. I was lucky when France made a mistake and went into the gravel as I was quite close to him. Then he came back to the circuit, but I was much faster than him so I could take advantage of this and overtake him. I had a bit of understeer so I hope to improve this and then get on the podium again for the Feature race.'
Pos Driver Team Laps GapFirst
1 Robbie KERR GREAT BRITAIN 15 -
2 Nico HÜLKENBERG GERMANY 15 +8.331
3 Enrico TOCCACELO ITALY 15 +13.523
4 Loic DUVAL FRANCE 15 +17.112
5 Alex YOONG MALAYSIA 15 +21.735
6 Jeroen BLEEKEMOLEN NETHERLANDS 15 +22.191
7 Narain KARTHIKEYAN INDIA 15 +22.558
8 Richard LYONS IRELAND 15 +29.185
9 Jonathan SUMMERTON USA 15 +29.558
10 Sean McINTOSH CANADA 15 +30.550
11 Alvaro PARENTE PORTUGAL 15 +30.725
12 Bruno JUNQUEIRA BRAZIL 15 +31.114
13 Adrian ZAUGG SOUTH AFRICA 15 +34.694
14 Jan CHAROUZ CZECH REPUBLIC 15 +36.602
15 Ian DYK AUSTRALIA 15 +38.295
16 Matt HALLIDAY NEW ZEALAND 15 +1:04.903
17 Moreno SOEPRAPTO INDONESIA 15 +1:13.770
18 Juan Pablo GARCIA MEXICO 14 1 Lap
19 Allam KHODAIR LEBANON 11 4 Laps
20 Sebastien BUEMI SWITZERLAND 8 7 Laps
21 Nur ALI PAKISTAN 4 11 Laps
22 Congfu CHENG CHINA 2 13 Laps