A1GP News Round Up With A1GP World Cup of Motorsport heading onto the home straight as regards Season Four attention is now switching to the next race, the championship standings and the first race of Season Five.
The sixth event of the season, A1GP Algarve, Portugal, on 10-12 April is at a brand new venue for the series and one of the most eagerly awaited on the calendar by the series in general and A1 Team Portugal in particular. A1GP is not the only series to have been to the impressive Autodromo International Algarve for testing as Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro driver, Felipe Massa, was there in his Formula 1 car in December. The Brazilian visited A1GP Gauteng, as he was in South Africa for a sponsor event, and spent time with A1 Team Portugal where he joined Filipe Albuquerque in a photo shoot to help publicize the Algarve event.
One driver who will certainly be looking forward to this event is A1 Team Pakistan’s seat holder, Adam Khan, as this will be his Season Four debut. The 23-year-old has been dealing with the frustration of watching his fellow competitors race while his car was readied for him. His first chance to drive it came at South Africa’s Phakisa Freeway Circuit in Welkom the week of the Kyalami race. On the Tuesday and Wednesday he completed nearly 150 laps of the 4.24 km circuit and his comments were: “It’s been a long wait for me to have a car which I could safely and comfortably fit, but it’s been worth it. I really enjoyed the handling of this new A1GP Powered by Ferrari car. It was a really smooth running test and, with the excellent reliability we had, we were able to quickly move onto developing our performance.
“Unfortunately we’re a long way behind the other teams now, as they have completed five race weekends and that’s given them plenty of time to understand the complexity of the car, its handling characteristics and set-up development. We elected not to contest the South African round, but we’ll be racing again at the next round in Portugal.”
In the championship standings Switzerland has gone to the top of the points’ list for the first time this season. It is, in fact, the fourth team to do this as France and Malaysia left Zandvoort tying for the lead, Malaysia left Chengdu on its own at the top, Ireland took over and left both Sepang and Taupo in the coveted position, and now it’s the turn of the current World Cup holder. However, no doubt all those at the top of the standings will now start getting their calculators out as they will all be able to drop their worst score, and this could throw up some different scenarios. The current points’ situation has Switzerland leading Ireland by three points, but they have to watch out for the dark horse, A1 Team Portugal, who is just a further six points behind.
Now looking even further ahead to Season Five, the first confirmed event of the season will be the eagerly awaited street race on the Gold Coast, which has now been officially called the SuperGP by combining the name of the two main racing events on the program, A1GP and V8Supercars. While A1GP will turn five next season, Queensland will be celebrating its 150th birthday. No one in A1GP is prouder of what is happening in his own backyard on the 23-25 October than A1 Team Australia seat holder, Alan Jones, who attended the recent launch of the new title. His comment was: “Everybody is very excited A1GP is going to be on the Gold Coast. I was pleasantly surprised at how many drivers and team seat holders came up to me in South Africa to let me know how happy they were that we had the Gold Coast event confirmed. It’s also one of the first things talked about when I meet people in the street or at functions at home. The local Queensland people, for example, are becoming more aware of A1GP. We’re four seasons old compared to Grand Prix that’s had over 50 seasons of racing, so it takes time to get to everyone and we need to be sure our entire nation is being told about A1GP, not just one state.”
Racing incidents are usually seen by the drivers involved in very different lights, and this certainly happened in Kyalami. While A1 Team Ireland’s Adam Carroll and A1 Team Malaysia’s Fairuz Fauzy clashed on the track in the Feature race, in the paddock it was their respective bosses who came to verbal blows! The first barrage came from Carroll’s boss, Mark Gallagher, when he said: “Frankly I’m disgusted. It’s taken us four seasons to get to this level of competitiveness. We’re pushing to win a championship and it’s not the only time that this driver has caused incidents, in fact he did the same thing to New Zealand later in the race.” Then came the reply from Jack Cunningham on behalf of Fauzy. In an A1 Team Malaysia release it was pointed out the stewards had taken no action after what the team very clearly saw as a racing incident, and Cunningham’s view was : “To blame Fairuz for the incident is unfair and we think the Irish team should stick to trying to win races rather than blaming others for their misfortune.” While Gallagher did also say A1 Team Malaysia was one of the very best in A1GP, and Cunningham that A1 Team Ireland is a highly respected team, it is obvious at the moment they are not going to be happy to have adjacent garages in Portugal.