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DATE News (chronologically)
02/12/09
a1gp
Prost gets surprise France call
tiago_T
Nicolas Prost
A1 Team France has made the surprise announcement that Nicolas Prost will be racing in next weekend’s A1GP Gauteng, South Africa instead of Loic Duval.

It will be the 27-year-old’s second ever full race meeting following his run in Chengdu earlier this season. Then he finished eighth in the Sprint race and was running seventh in the Feature until spinning out trying to pass Australia’s John Martin.

He has also taken to the track in a further eight rookie sessions over the past two seasons, recently finishing fastest of all in Malaysia and second quickest in Taupo.

“Chengdu was really important for me because I showed I had very good pace there,” Prost told A1GP.com. “It was the same for me in Sepang and Taupo in the rookie session because I was very quick also.

“I’m really looking forward to racing in Kyalami, but I know it will be difficult because the level of competition between the top six or seven guys is really high. I still need to learn a little bit, however, but if I can get the pace we can fight up front.

“I have been following very precisely what the team have been doing with Loic and all the new set-ups he has been working on, so it is the right time for more races and I’m feeling pretty confident.”

Interestingly, the announcement means that Prost will race at the same venue where his father, Alain, famously won the last Formula One South African Grand Prix, back in 1993.

“It’s difficult for me because everywhere I race my Dad seemed to win there sometime,” Prost added in good humor. “I’m really used to that feeling. It’s nothing new. If I go to Magny Cours, or wherever, people go ‘Hey do you remember that your Dad…’ and I’m quickly like ‘Yes, I remember what my Dad did…’ ”

Prost replaces Duval in the France team despite it being expected that Duval would race for the rest of the season.  By his high standards, Duval had one of his worst weekends in A1GP at last month’s A1GP Taupo, New Zealand, when for the first time in more than a year he did not manage to put France on the podium in at least one of his two races.

However, the decision to give Prost another chance is not performance related, with Duval fulfilling commitments elsewhere.

Olivier Panis, sporting director said: “Nicolas is already completely at home in our team. He’s well prepared for this new challenge after a season as test driver with A1 Team France and a race in Chengdu.

“We’ve already found an efficient way of working together, and we have every confidence in each other. This way we won’t waste any time and our objective remains the same - the rostrum!”

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