Closest Ever A1GP Title Battle Heads to Durban
Durban, South Africa - For the first time in the history of the series, the top two nations in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport are level on points, as the incredible championship battle heads to the streets of Durban, South Africa for round seven on 22-24 February.
|Durban street circuit|
As the championship reaches its climax with four rounds on the 10-event calendar remaining, New Zealand leads the series due to number of race wins but is level with France on 96 points. Switzerland lies just three points behind while host nation South Africa is now fourth on 79 points, after Adrian Zaugg secured his nation's second win of the season last time out after an incredible drive in treacherous conditions at Eastern Creek in Sydney.
The Durban event is the only street circuit on the calendar and, unlike some of the permanent race tracks which host A1GP events, none of the drivers are able to test or race there at other times of the year. The tight, twisty street circuit punishes mistakes more than any other track and is considered to be one of the most difficult circuits on the calendar.
The crowds have flocked to South Africa's maiden A1GP races - the biggest international motor racing meeting the country holds. A1 Team Netherlands' Jos Verstappen was the hero of the inaugural event in 2006, demonstrating the dangers and the glory of racing on such a narrow circuit.
The Dutchman crashed on the last lap of the Sprint race but won the Feature with an impressive overtaking maneuver at the end of the race. The second meeting in February 2007 was dominated by A1 Team Germany's Nico Hülkenberg. He took his seventh and eighth victories of the season, breaking the record for the most number of wins by any one driver in A1GP.
Who will race for France?
The French team is yet to announce its driver line-up for Durban and is at a crucial point in the championship battle. Loic Duval, who secured France's first win in 37 races last time out in Sydney, said in Australia that it was unlikely he would be able to take part in any further A1GP events this season due to prior commitments.
Jarvis returns for GBR: A1 Team Great Britain has confirmed that Oliver Jarvis, Zandvoort Feature race winner, will return to the cockpit to race for his nation in Durban, a circuit he experienced last season in the rookie session. Robbie Kerr, who finished on the Feature race podium last time out in Australia, and has secured two second place finishes in his four races at the Durban street circuit for GBR, will also be on hand to lend support to the team and pass on his technical expertise.
Mount Moriah Ministries Care and Support Centre visit: A1GP drivers will be visiting the Mount Moriah Ministries Care and Support Centre on Wednesday afternoon to see the work of the project and to interact with the children. The Centre is run by Food4Africa and cares for disadvantaged and malnourished children in the surrounding community. The project began as a soup kitchen and now provides care for over 200 children and offers skills training as well as physical and emotional support to adults in the community. A group of children and volunteers from the Centre will be visiting the A1GP paddock on Friday afternoon to watch free practice and meet the teams and drivers.
Pre-event PR activity: The pre-event PR activity for the Durban race weekend will take place on Thursday (21 February) morning on the strip of beach in front of the Suncoast Pirates Surf Lifesaving Club. The drivers will take part in two traditional beach lifesaving activities: the Taplin Relay and the Flags Relay. The drivers will be put into teams with members of the Pirates Lifesaving Club and the Natal Sharks Rugby Union team. The activity will be followed by a BBQ lunch on the beach for media and all drivers, seat holders and team managers.
Drivers from the following nations will be taking part in the event: Czech Republic, France, India, Ireland, Indonesia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Switzerland, USA
About Durban street circuit: The picturesque street circuit in Durban was specifically designed for A1GP and held its first race in January 2006. The tight, twisty circuit leaves little room for error and is considered to be one of the most difficult circuits on the calendar.
The 11 turn 3.28 km (2.04 miles) layout has its start/finish line opposite Natal Command in Snell Parade, lying between Natal Command and the beach. Running in a clockwise direction, cars blast down to a very tight right-hand hairpin out of which they accelerate back up Snell Parade and then snap left into Argyle Road with a left/right chicane.
A faster right-hand corner feeds the cars onto what is normally NMR Avenue for the longest straight of the circuit. This kinks to the right just before its conclusion, at which point the track turns sharp right and east onto Battery Beach Road, ducking under the M4 freeway.
Another right-hander follows, with the track then entering a long, arcing left past the Suncoast Casino, complete with a chicane just before it starts to arc. The lap is completed with a long right onto the start/finish straight on Snell Parade. Temporary grandstands are erected around the circuit, seating 22,000 spectators.
Track length: 3.28 km (2.04 miles)
Lap record: 1m18.178s, recorded by Nelson Piquet Jr, A1 Team Brazil, January 2006
The A1GP Durban, South Africa event runs from 22-24 February, kicking off with the rookie driver and developing nations' sessions on Friday morning from 11.00 to 11.25 and again from 11.35 to 12.00. All 22 teams can take part in the later practice session from 14.00 to 15.00. Final practice and qualifying for the Sprint and Feature race will take place on Saturday with the two races scheduled to run on Sunday at 11.00 and 15.00 respectively.
In addition to the thrilling A1GP action, spectators will be treated to practice, qualifying and two races each (one on Saturday and one on Sunday) for the Shelby CanAm sports car series and a GT Challenge. There will also be parades of Supercars and Ferraris on Saturday and Sunday and a 30-minute A1GP pit walkabout on each of the three days.
2007/08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport points standings