Brands Hatch A1GP preview
Great Britain’s Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit once again plays host to the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport this weekend, Friday 1st – Sunday 3rd May, the Kent-based race track a fixture on the schedule since it hosted the inaugural A1GP races in September 2005.
A1GP’s return to Brands Hatch this week also marks the first anniversary of TW Steel becoming ‘Official Watch & Timing Partner’ to the series, the deal being signed and announced exactly a year ago at the corresponding race meeting. Since then, TW Steel has become a permanent fixture at A1GP events throughout the world during Season Four (08-09), the first in the ‘Powered by Ferrari’ era of competition.
Brands Hatch will see the hosting of the seventh national round of ‘Miss TW Steel’ with Sunday’s finalists competing to represent the UK in the grand finale, also set to be hosted in the UK with details to be confirmed shortly. The winner of ‘Miss TW Steel UK’ will win her very own TW Steel watch and $1500 US. On offer at the grand finale is a cash prize of $25,000 US, a professional photo-shoot with a leading lifestyle magazine and of course, the title of ‘Miss TW Steel’.
Race fans will have the opportunity to see the TW Steel range for themselves courtesy of an on-site sales platform at Brands Hatch. TW Steel’s A1GP watches, as won by the weekend’s A1GP pole-sitters and Feature race top-three finishers, will be available for those keen to emulate the best of the best on-track.
TW Steel enjoys a presence at some of the UK’s leading retailers including Harrods, Selfridges, Ernest Jones, Beaverbrooks, Goldsmiths and leading jewelers nationwide.
A1 Team Great Britain boasts one of the best ‘home’ records in A1GP history with Robbie Kerr celebrating Sprint race victories at Brands Hatch in 2007 and 2008. On both occasions the popular British ace came close to adding Feature race wins to his Sprint triumphs, collecting runner-up podium slots, but the passionate home fans were ultimately to be denied courtesy of sterling winning efforts from Germany’s Nico Hulkenberg and India’s Narain Karthikeyan.
A1 Team Brazil remains the only team to-date in A1GP to have swept the top step of the podium at Brands Hatch. Current Renault F1 driver, Nelson Piquet, created series history winning both races at the very first A1GP race meeting to kick start the inaugural 2005-06 season.
While A1 Team Great Britain leads the way with four straight top-three finishes at Brands, a total of 11 other countries have enjoyed a trip to the podium there; Brazil (2), Germany (2), Italy (2), Australia (1), France (1), India (1), Ireland (1), Mexico (1), New Zealand (1), Switzerland (1) and the USA (1).
Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit Driving Impressions:
The Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit is without a doubt one of the most popular circuits on the A1GP schedule with its fast turns and undulating 3.7km layout.
A1 Team Great Britain’s Dan Clarke is faced with the task of flying the flag for his country on home soil this year. It’ll be the 25-year-old’s first time back racing at Brands Hatch since he triumphed in the prestigious Formula Ford Festival in 2004. In the intervening years the Englishman’s gone on to race in the British Formula Three Championship and in North America in the Champ Car World Series.
This weekend’s return to Brands will see Dan race for Great Britain for just the third time this season, following starts in New Zealand in January and Portugal this month, with his best result to-date coming last time out in the Algarve, scoring a seventh place points paying finish in the Feature race.
“I’ve had quite a lot of success at Brands Hatch previously so I’m looking forward to going back there to compete,” reflected Clarke. “I’m feeling very positive heading there, not least since we’ve had a bit of time since the last race to prepare for this one. I’m still relatively inexperienced with the A1GP car but we made progress in Portugal and scored which was a decent result. I’ve been working with the team closely over the past few days and I think a podium is a reasonable target if all our efforts pay off!
“This weekend is obviously the first time that this generation of A1GP car has run at Brands Hatch so it’s a fairly clean sheet but I’m racing against drivers with a lot more track time behind the wheel of this car. I know the layout well though and I love the high-speed corners, in particular Paddock Hill which is a great place for spectators to watch from. With the high-loads the Feature race will be relatively physical, there are some similarities with the track we raced on in Portugal earlier this month.”
While unable to previously experience the famed, and partisan atmosphere at Brands Hatch when A1GP comes to town, Dan’s hoping the home support will further aid A1 Team Great Britain’s on-track efforts come race day.
“Unfortunately my race commitments in the United States have prevented me from attending the A1GP events at Brands but I’ve certainly heard plenty about how vocal the crowd gets for the British team. It adds another element to the weekend being the British driver in the British car at the British race and that’s what’s great about being in A1GP. I’m anticipating a lot of crowd support, it brings with it a certain degree of expectation but I have to concentrate on my own program and understanding of the car but again, if all goes well I don’t think a podium is out of the question.”