A1GP 2007/08 Gala Awards A1GP World Cup of Motorsport celebrated the end of its 2007/08 season with a glittering Gala Awards dinner at the Hilton Park Lane in London on Monday 5 May. Teams, drivers, sponsors and officials gathered to pay tribute to the memorable achievements of the season, including Switzerland clinching the championship, Ireland being the most improved team and Canada's Robert Wickens claiming the Rookie prize.
Tony Teixeira, Chairman of A1GP, presented A1 Team Switzerland with the World Cup trophy and congratulated all 22 nations on an incredible third season of competition.
'I want to say well done to A1 Team Switzerland. Max Welti and his team have done a great job and I know the fight has been long and hard with the likes of New Zealand, Great Britain and France never letting up and keeping the most amazing amount of pressure on them. But I also want to congratulate all the other teams who have made the year so memorable and contributed to the title fight going down the wire at Brands Hatch.'
Pete da Silva, A1GP Chief Executive Officer, paid tribute to an unforgettable season and looked forward to the start of a new era with Ferrari:
'As we celebrate the end of season three, I am sure everyone will agree that we should have a great sense of pride in the huge steps we have taken in establishing A1GP as one of the world's most prestigious motor racing series. We have travelled to the four corners of the world where the racing has been entertaining and unpredictable. This would not have been possible without the providers of our chassis, engines and tires - Lola, Zytek and Coopers. I want to say a special thank you to them and also goodbye as we are moving on for season four, which promises to be even more dynamic and exciting.'
The evening was hosted by A1GP's own commentator Ben Edwards and pit lane reporter Lee McKenzie and they welcomed to the stage Sean Fitzpatrick, former All Blacks rugby player and sports icon, who made a special appearance at the Gala Awards to present A1 Team New Zealand with its trophy for second place in the championship.
Canadian Robert Wickens was named Rookie Driver of the Year. The 19-year-old joined the team at round three in Malaysia and notched up a succession of impressive results for his nation, achieving five podium finishes including Canada's maiden Sprint race victory in Durban. The Toronto-born racer, who was 18-years-old at the time of the Durban event, also became the youngest ever pole-sitter in A1GP.
On winning the prestigious driver award, Wickens said:
'Obviously it's been a tremendous honor for me to race in A1GP with A1 Team Canada. I had a great season and was really happy to get a win in Durban and some other podium finishes. The team did a phenomenal job and if it hadn't been for all their hard work and dedication we wouldn't have had the season that we did. It's been a great experience racing in A1GP and I've learned a lot! I'd like to thank everyone involved in A1 Team Canada for giving me the opportunity to compete in a great series.'
In addition, the driving skills of the Canadian star were recognized further with the award for the Most Spectacular Overtaking Maneuver of the season. Wickens overtook Germany's Michael Ammermüller during the Sydney Sprint race, which was held in treacherous conditions, putting in an incredible performance to make his way through the pack from 15th to third.
'It had been a fairly challenging weekend before the Sunday at Eastern Creek,' said an overwhelmed Wickens. 'The rain certainly made a difference in the Sprint race but to be honest with you I was able to make up so much ground because the guys on the team gave me a great car on race day. Everything came together and I found a line that worked well for me. To reach the podium from 15th on the grid was pretty memorable but as I said, the team deserves a huge amount of credit for being able to make it happen. It was great to reward their efforts with a trip to the podium. It's nice that we've been recognized for it again with this award and I have to thank A1 Team Canada for the opportunities they have given me!'
The award for the Most Improved A1 Team of 2007/08 went to Ireland. Adam Carroll ended his nation's run of 38 races without a podium finish when he took third in the Brno Sprint race - remarkably on his A1GP debut. Carroll went on to score his and the team's first Feature race win in Mexico City in March and has notched up an impressive four podium finishes during his debut A1GP season.
Ireland's success continued as it was also named the Best Presented A1 Team of the series for the third consecutive year.
An emotional Mark Gallagher, Team Principal of A1 Team Ireland, said:
'This time last year we won the award for being the best presented team and having the best livery and I said that instead of being all show and no go I'd prefer to be the most improved team in a year's time and we've now achieved that. This year I don't even have to decide which I'd prefer us to win as we now have both! That's completely down to Dave O'Neill (team manager) and the boys in the team, to Adam Carroll, Ralph Firman, Niall Quinn and the fantastic support we've had from all our sponsors. The victory in Mexico was a major turning point and the way in which the team has finished the season has made all the efforts over the last three years worthwhile. It has renewed our belief that the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport really does offer every country in the world the chance to enjoy success at the very highest level.'
Mexico City's Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit was named the Best A1GP event of the season and Malaysia beat the Netherlands to scoop the A1GP.com Fanzone Best A1 Team of 2007/08 award.
Having finished second in the Fanzone poll, which received a record 7,000 votes, the Netherlands collected the award for A1 Team PR Excellence while ESPN STAR Sports was named Best A1GP Broadcaster of season three.
Full list of winners:
|2007/08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport - World Champions
||A1 Team Switzerland|
|2007/08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport - Second place
||A1 Team New Zealand|
|2007/08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport - Third place
||A1 Team Great Britain|
|Best A1GP event of 2007/08
||A1GP Mexico City, Mexico|
|Most Improved A1 Team
||A1 Team Ireland|
|Rookie Driver of the Year
||Robert Wickens, A1 Team Canada|
|Most Spectacular Overtaking Maneuver
||Canada's Robert Wickens overtaking Germany's Michael Ammermüller during the A1GP Eastern Creek, Sydney Sprint race|
|A1GP.com Fanzone Best A1 Team
||A1 Team Malaysia|
|A1 Team PR Excellence
||A1 Team Netherlands|
|Best Presented A1 Team
||A1 Team Ireland|
|Best A1GP Broadcaster
||ESPN STAR Sports|