Uwe Alzen excluded, David Terrien wins in Bahrain UPDATE Uwe Alzen's victory in the first race this morning was cancelled by the Bahrain Support Race Stewards of the meeting. The German driver was excluded from the race classification based on an official protest lodged by another team.
The Stewards found that the driver had not worn his HANS (Head and Neck Safety Device) during the race in contravention of the Series regulations. The HANS device is a special safety device used in all major top level international championships and is designed to protect the driver's neck in the case of an accident during racing.
Frenchman David Terrien therefore inherits the race win.
04/05/08 Uwe Alzen took the lead of the Speedcar Series after scoring his third win of the season in a dramatic Saturday morning race in Bahrain. The German beat the strongest field of F1 drivers assembled thus far.
New to the series for this race were 1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve, and his former Williams team mate Heinz-Harald Frentzen. With JJ Lehto back again that brought the number of former Sauber F1 drivers in the field to six! Also back for his second outing of the season was former Le Mans and DTM star Klaus Ludwig.
In Friday morning's qualifying session Johnny Herbert just pipped Stefan Johansson to pole, while Nicolas Navarro and Alzen filled the second row. Championship leader Jean Alesi made a mistake on his new tires run, and thus had to settle for seventh. Meanwhile newcomers Frentzen and Villeneuve took time to settle in. They started 10th and 14th, the Canadian struggling with his brake balance.
The first lap passed without incident at the front, as Herbert slipped into the lead from Johansson, Alzen and Navarro. Meanwhile Alesi quickly passed both Gianni Morbidelli and David Terrien for fifth. However, there was early disappointment for Lehto, who had a suspension problem even before the start, while Ludwig also stopped early after his engine went onto seven cylinders.
From the start Herbert felt that his engine was down on power, and at the onset of the second lap he was unable to resist as Johansson and Alzen swept past. Indeed the Briton soon tumbled down to seventh, and decided that rather than try and fight he would concentrate on bringing home some points.
New leader Johansson soon came under strong pressure from Alzen, while Navarro, Alesi and Terrien stayed closed and made it a spectacular five-car battle for a while. On the eighth lap Alesi and Terrien both made it past Navarro. Leader Johansson was having problems, and on the 10th lap Alzen found a way past.
"I picked up a huge vibration in the front," said Stefan, "and I had to back off a little under braking, or I was going to lock up all the time. I was just trying to keep the pace. I could barely see the road in the end, it was so bad."
Just after losing the lead Stefan was also passed by Alesi, but when Terrien then tried to muscle past the Swede he misjudged the move and nudged an innocent Jean into a 360 degree spin. Alesi had dropped to fifth by the time he got going again.
After several attempts Alesi finally made it past Navarro for fourth on lap 14. At the start of lap 17 he made a move on Terrien under braking for the first corner, but he couldn't get the car stopped, He ran into the side of the unfortunate Johansson, who was turning into the corner. The two cars made heavy contact, and Alesi's rode over the front of Johansson's in spectacular fashion. Jean had to pull off the road and park a few corners later, while Stefan retired to the pits.
"I'm so disappointed, because they were such valuable points," said Johansson. "Had I not been there I think Jean would have been in the barrier before he stopped! It wasn't going to work in a million years."
"I made a big mistake," admitted Jean. "At the end of the straight you're braking at 180 meters. When I tried to overtake Terrien I had no chance to stop."
Out front Alzen had an untroubled run, and had quietly extended his lead as the others fought amongst themselves. At the end he was a huge 7.9 secs ahead of Terrien, while Morbidelli passed Navarro to take the final podium spot.
"It was not easy," said Alzen. "But it was easier than the last race in Sepang, where the heat was higher and you had more humidity in the car. Here it was better. The only problem that I had was a flat spot at the front, so it was a little bit tricky towards the end. I'll start tomorrow in the eighth position, so that's for sure not easy, especially at the first corner."
Marchy Lee had a good run to fifth, while Herbert just held off Villeneuve for sixth. Jacques did get past at one stage, but he then saw yellow flags and let Johnny back through.
"We had a brake problem yesterday and we changed it," said Jacques. "It took me a few laps to see where I could brake. But it was good, because I could brake late, and I was racing hard. I had a blast, but it was really hot!"
The only other drivers to go the distance were Hasher Al Maktoum and Ukyo Katayama, as Frentzen, Ananda Mikola and Fabien Giroix joined the list of retirements.
The top eight will be reversed for Sunday's grid, so Al Maktoum will start on pole, ahead of Villeneuve, Herbert and Lee.
Off the track, the drama continues however as the Union Properties Team consisting of David Terrien and Hasher Al Maktoum have submitted a formal protest against race winner Uwe Alzen. They are asking that the German be disqualified on the premise that he was not wearing the HANS (Head and Neck Safety) device during the race according to the FIA regulations. The allegation is currently being investigated by the race director and stewards and a decision will be made by this afternoon. For updates on the situation please check the Speedcar Series website - www.speedcarseries.com.
Classification Race 1
||Hasher Al Maktoum
Nicolas Navarro 2:08.484 on lap 4