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A1GP Team Ireland Boss on Paying the penalty
A1 Team Ireland boss Mark Gallagher believes the 25-second penalty it was awarded after the Feature race on Sunday could prove pivotal in this season’s championship chase.  Ireland lost the lead of the championship in the stewards’ room on Sunday night, when it was awarded a 25-second penalty for passing the Australian car of John Martin under safety car conditions at the second restart of the race.

The infringement, which ultimately dropped them three places in the race from second to fifth, took the edge of what had been one of the best performances of Carroll’s A1GP career, fighting back from 15th after a jump-start penalty to score a medal finish.

It meant Ireland only scored seven points for the race rather than 13, and the championship battle has tightened up immensely.

Instead of being four points in the lead, Ireland is now two points behind reigning champion Switzerland. Even though the latter currently has four points to lose as part of the new for 2008/09 dropped scores rules, with a maximum of 54 points still available the title race is still wide open.

Gallagher believes those six points, aligned with the extra two points Portugal gained as a result of Ireland’s demotion, could be critical in determining the overall title winner this season.

“Adam drove brilliantly in what was possibly one of the most perfect drives anyone has seen to recover from the initial drive-through penalty,” Gallagher said in a statement released in the wake of the penalty.

“The safety car restart was a mess, and we were penalized. The stewards have a hard job to do, so we accept their verdict even if we find the outcome extremely frustrating. We aim to win this title.

“If we don’t I suspect we will look back at today’s outcome as being pivotal. For now, though, it’s history. Roll on Brands Hatch.”

Carroll also gave reasons as to why he didn’t think he deserved either penalty.

“In the Feature Race I knew the car had rolled a little on the grid but I definitely did not start until the lights went out,” he said.

“After we got the drive-through penalty I just put my head down and we climbed back to second – so I am very disappointed we got a 25-second penalty.

“What happened at the second safety car restart was that everyone in front started to brake, slow and fan out – Australia pulled across suddenly, and slowed, and I did the safest thing which was to keep going. If we’d all hit the brakes there’d have been a motorway-style accident.

“Not much of a choice.”

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