A1GP Prepares for Sepang A1GP World Cup of Motorsport heads to Malaysia this weekend for round three of the 2008/09 Season on 21 – 23 November, with home favorite Fairuz Fauzy looking to keep his team top of the leader board at the Sepang International Circuit.
A1 Team Malaysia is the first nation in A1GP history to head to its home event leading the series. Fauzy will be looking to give the crowds something to cheer about by repeating his first round success in Zandvoort and make it back onto the top step of the podium on home soil.
“After such a brilliant start to the season at Zandvoort the pressure was on to stay at the front and leaving China with the lead has given me a big confidence boost,” said Fauzy. “I’m delighted A1 Team Malaysia has put its faith in me and given me the chance to compete for my country in my home race.”
Teammate, Aaron Lim, was given his first outing in the A1GP Powered by Ferrari car in Chengdu. He was blown away by the performance of the new car and was thrilled by its power, acceleration, braking and cornering speeds. The 21-year-old will return to the cockpit to take part in the rookie sessions in Sepang: “I can’t wait to drive at Sepang and I’m very pleased the team has asked me to drive the rookie session. I don’t take anything for granted so, although I hoped to be given the job for this round, I kept my fingers crossed until I had the call from the team.”
Loïc Duval will return to the driving seat for A1 Team France in Sepang. The team currently sits joint second in the points with A1 Team Ireland, and Duval will be keen to keep in contention for the title at this early stage in the season.
“I am happy to be back behind the wheel of the new A1GP car,” said Duval. “I am sure the team has improved the car set up with Nicolas (Prost), and it will be the first time for me driving in dry conditions. I just hope that we will be as quick in Sepang as in Zandvoort and Chengdu. The aim is to lead the series at the end of the Malaysian weekend."
The rest of the field will also have a challenge to keep a fired-up Adam Carroll at bay. A1 Team Ireland will be retaining his services as the team hopes to take the top spot in the points after having its most successful weekend to date in Chengdu.
“This is the first time in seven seasons of racing I have come to a team without any pressure of money hanging over me,” said Carroll. “It means I can concentrate my efforts 100 per cent physically and mentally on the racing.
“I feel more prepared than I have ever been before and I feel that now is the time for me to step up and do the job. You don’t get many opportunities as good as this in life, and I’ve never been more ready.”
Jeroen Bleekmolen will return for A1 Team Netherlands, taking over driver duties from Robert Doornbos. After Doornbos’ podium finish in the Chengdu Sprint race, the team will be hoping for another good points haul to move up from fifth in the championship.
Filipe Albuquerque will also be looking to challenge the front runners after scoring A1 Team Portugal’s maiden victory in the Chengdu Feature race. However, the 23-year-old is aware there are some world-class drivers racing in the series this season who all know how to win championships and have their eyes on this year’s prize: “A1GP has some very experienced, talented and fast drivers so we will have good fun this year. It will be very close as they all know how to race well to secure championships. For example, they know that it isn’t worth risking throwing away the points for third place by going for second. Look at Ireland battling me for the win on Sunday – Adam Carroll pushed hard but he wasn’t going to take the huge risk of crashing and losing points by trying to pass me.
“I hope that in Sepang we can be up there again there but, like I said before, a small mistake will drop you from a win to seventh.”
Danny Watts made a fantastic debut for A1 Team Great Britain in China putting the British car on pole for the Feature race and taking two podium finishes. His performance did not go unnoticed as the British squad has recalled the services of the 28-year-old for the final event before the Christmas break.
“I am delighted to be representing A1 Team Great Britain again,” said Watts. “We had a strong start in Chengdu last weekend and it’s obviously important to continue that form in Sepang. The aim has got to be to target a couple more podiums, but we have already shown we are competitive, so race wins must be our primary goal from now on. I will do my upmost to achieve these goals for the team and move us higher up the points’ table”
Marco Andretti will also get a second outing in the A1 Team USA car: “I'm looking forward to the race in Malaysia. We should be able to take all the things we learned in China and make some good improvements this next time out. This is still a very new program for the team, but I feel confident that we will show more pace each time out.”
Earl Bamber will return to the driving seat for A1 Team New Zealand in Sepang. The 18-year-old has clocked up thousands of laps racing at the circuit since 2006 and is keen to get back behind the wheel to put his local knowledge to good use: “I’ve got some good knowledge of the track at Sepang so this should help us to be on the pace quickly. The race will be hard, because the other teams have had more time to prepare their new cars now so I expect our opposition to be stronger”
A thrilling start to the season has seen four different nations take victory from the four races so far. With the history books showing that every A1GP champion has won the Malaysian Feature race in the year it was crowned, the excitement looks sure to continue at the Sepang International Circuit.
The A1GP Sepang, Malaysia event runs from 21 – 23 November, kicking off with the rookie driver and developing nations’ sessions on Friday from 10.45 to 11.15 and again from 11.35 to 12.05. All teams can take part in the later practice session from 14.00 to 15.00. Final practice and qualifying for the Sprint and Feature races will take place on Saturday with the two races scheduled to run on Sunday at 11.00 and 15.00 respectively.
About Sepang circuit:
The Sepang International Circuit is widely regarded as a benchmark for other Grand Prix venues; boasting superb pit garage and media facilities, as well as impressive grandstands and hospitality facilities. The circuit was designed by renowned German designer Hermann Tilke, who would subsequently design the impressive new facilities in Shanghai, Bahrain and Turkey, and is designing the street circuit for A1GP Lippo Village, Indonesia. The main circuit, which goes in a clockwise direction, is well known for its sweeping corners and wide straights. The unusual layout features a very long back straight, separated from the pit straight by a very tight hairpin so giving the cars the opportunity to go wheel-to-wheel two or three abreast.
Track length: 5.54km (3.44 miles)
A1GP Lap record:
1m 49.221s - A1 Team Switzerland Neel Jani, November 2007
Circuit Lap Record
1m 34.223s - Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams F1, 2004