A1GP news roundup
With just nine weeks to go before the first race of Season Five of A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, the first construction milestone was reached in Australia ahead of the SuperGP on the streets of Surfers Paradise, 22-25 October.
The first steps in the construction for the this October’s event have been completed this week with the positioning of the first pedestrian bridge near Tedder Avenue
SuperGP General Manager Greg Hooton and Event Director David Bennett were joined on the Gold Coast Highway today by reigning TW Steel Miss SuperGP Mareika van den Berg in celebration of this milestone, and also unveiled the plans for the new pit facility which will be in place for this year’s event.
Hooton said he was pleased to be able to celebrate the beginning of construction and show the new plans, with business as usual for Australia’s Premier Motorsport event.
“It is really exciting to see the event moving forward into this next important stage of its development,” said Hooton.
“Already construction is surging ahead, and as the days count down to this year’s SuperGP I am sure everyone will see that it is business as usual for our four-day, four-night festival on the streets of Surfers Paradise.
The SuperGP street circuit is considered by many as one of the top three street circuits in the world.
“It is a significant achievement to convert a thriving and bustling commercial and recreational district into a motor racing circuit, able to facilitate more than 250,000 people and high-speed motor racing action,” said Bennett.
Over the next two months leading into the SuperGP, the construction schedule will include:
• 2515 concrete barriers (10km) weighing 4 tons each
• 8500 grandstand seats
• 10km debris fencing
• 16km security fencing
• 7 pedestrian bridges
• 4 over-track signs
• 5 big screens
• 500 televisions
• 100 corporate suites
• 190 temporary sheds, containers & reefers
• 6000 man hours of electrical reticulation
• 100km of cabling
• 1 International Standard Temporary Outside Broadcast Compound
• 700 trackside marshals (fire marshals, trackside, flag, communications, spectator, etc.)
• 700 officials (gates, grandstands, corporate suites, info booths, accreditation centre, media centre, etc.)
• 6000 Permanent residents inside track precinct
Gold Coast based company IEDM are instrumental in overseeing the extensive build procedure ensuring that the event is delivered on time and on budget.
Information and tickets for the October 22-25 event are available at www.SuperGP.com.
A1GP drivers and team members have been in racing action over the last month, keeping busy despite the A1GP summer break.
Current A1GP champion, A1 Team Ireland’s Adam Carroll was invited to join GT Driver Richard Dean, Tottenham Hotspur Superleague Driver Craig Dolby and Ginetta Junior racer Jordon Williams last Wednesday (12 August) to take part in a two-hour endurance kart race arranged by Sound Moves, the U2 production department.
As expected, the professional racers beat the other 13 teams by 11 laps but everyone taking part had a great evening at the F1 Karting track at Colnbrook, UK. Adam Carroll set the fastest lap of the race, beating Richard Dean by 1000th of a second to win a donation to the charity of his choice with Carroll selecting Help for Heroes.
The drivers were also invited to watch U2 play at Wembley Stadium by the band’s Production Manager Jake Berry last weekend.
A1GP drivers also had some success at the last round of the Firestone Indy Lights series, Firestone Mid-Ohio 100 last weekend (9 August).
A1GP pit lane commentator James Hinchcliffe claimed his best result in 12 races to finish second on the podium. He closed in on eventual winner James Davison but couldn’t find a way through in the closing stages.
"It's just so tough to pass here," said Hinchcliffe. "I think we took a couple laps longer to get up to speed, but once we did the first half of race we were right on his gearbox. I was kind of hoping he get into a mistake, but I must have used up too much of my tires running around in the dirty air there, so we sort of lost pace there at the end.
"Still a great day; we finally broke the third place streak we had going and make it one step higher. Now we've got one to go. Three races to do it; one more step to go."
The next race will be at Infineon Raceway on 23 August and will be a home race for current championship leader J.R. Hildebrand.
A1 Team USA’s rookie driver Hildebrand stretched his points lead to 63 by finishing third last weekend.
"I feel okay; the session was hit or miss depending on when you were on track. The track was hard to get used to, it was really wet when we first went out and then dry at the end of the session. Assuming it's dry tomorrow, we will be able to work with the car in the actual conditions at the time. I know there is some left in me and some left in the car, so we should be strong come tomorrow."
In only his second Indy Lights race, A1 Team Brazil driver Felipe Guimarães put in another strong performance for Bryan Herta Autosport to finish fourth.
While competing in the USA, Felipe Guimarães is keeping himself busy living in Indianapolis this summer. In between competing in select rounds of the Firestone Indy Lights series he has been keeping up a strict fitness program which sees him train twice a day as well as setting off smoke alarms when attempting to cook for himself! He has also taken the opportunity to go watch some NASCAR racing and an oval IRL race for the first time.
The 18-year-old claimed a podium on his Indy Lights debut finishing third at Watkins Glen on 4 July, the site of Emerson Fittipaldi’s first ever Formula One victory in 1970.
A1 Team Malaysia team members returned to the Sepang race track on 24-25 July, using the A1GP season break to keep in race trim, in a test of stamina and reliability. The tenth running of the annual Merdeka Millennium Endurance 12-hour race was the racing challenge taken on and it proved to be both hard work and very rewarding for the team members.
A1 Team Malaysia was represented in the cockpit by Aaron Lim driving for the Honda Malaysia Racing Team (HMRT), alongside former data engineer for Malaysia’s A1GP team, Reuben Wong.
Key A1 Team Malaysia crew members joined the Cartrade team fielding a Lotus 2 Eleven in the event, with Tengku Djan Ley taking on the role of Team Manager, Shanker Ramachandran leading the crew as Chief Mechanic, Hairul Ezwan assisting as No.2 Mechanic and Azrai Razuan supporting as PR coordinator.
A1 Team Malaysia mechanics Ramachandran and Ezwan had been seconded to race car preparation company, Proton R3, to ready the Lotus 2 Eleven entered by Cartrade Abt Motorsport. Tengku Djan Ley led the assault with a trio of driving brothers, Helmi Ilyas, Adam Ilyas and Fahmi Ilyas taking turns behind the wheel for the event.
Fahmi Ilyas has a connection to A1 Team Malaysia, as the young driver is coached and managed by Aaron Lim when Aaron is not taken up with A1GP driving duties.
In addition to the team members working throughout the weekend, Fairuz Fauzy was on hand to give his support to all the A1 Team Malaysia members taking part in the event, along with Jack Cunningham, Chief Executive and Owen Leed, Commercial Director.
The Cartrade Lotus 2 Eleven entry ran into problems early in the race weekend with an engine problem in practice which demanded an engine change. Ramachandran and Ezwan had to work throughout the night to complete the task, and their efforts were rewarded with third fastest qualifying lap in their class, 14th overall of the 43 car grid.
The team’s problems returned during the race, with a mix of technical issues which lost them time and added to the challenge of the endurance event. However, the team battled through the challenges to secure fourth place in class at the checkered flag, behind the No.77 Aston Martin with the pit crew led by A1 Team Malaysia’s Mathen George.
Jack Cunningham, Chief Executive, A1 Team Malaysia said of the team members’ weekend efforts, “It was very gratifying to walk down the pit lane at Sepang and see so many of our team members participating in the Merdeka Millennium Endurance 12hr race. Their experience with our team has placed them in high demand to work with other top teams and it is hugely beneficial for us to have our staff keeping race fit and putting their skills into practice while we are between A1GP seasons.”
A1 Team Malaysia drivers Fairuz Fauzy and Aaron Lim also made their big screen debut last week with the first airing of two new PLUS public service announcements which started to screen at local movie theatres. The A1 Team Malaysia commercial partner is at the forefront of road safety campaigns and the team was delighted to help with their latest advertisements.
Fauzy features in a campaign to encourage drivers to wear their seatbelts. Fauzy says of the campaign, “PLUS plays a very important role in road safety and encouraging drivers to drive more safely. I was very pleased to be able to be part of this new campaign which focuses on the necessity to wear a seatbelt when driving. I know just how important it is to buckle up correctly, whether it is in a road car or my A1 Team Malaysia A1GP car. In the event of an accident a seatbelt can be a life saver and minimize injury, so it is sensible, as well as legally compulsory, to adhere to the advice that PLUS is communicating through this advertisement.”
The second public service announcement centers on bad driving habits and features Lim.
Lim said of his role in the advertisement, “I am very proud to be part of this new PLUS campaign. Safety is key in driving, whether it is on the road or the race track, so it is very close to my heart. The announcement with which I was involved demonstrated the importance of safety by highlighting the potential outcomes of poor driving standards and skills. I hope that the young drivers of Malaysia will heed the advice given by PLUS and help to reduce the number of accidents and injuries on our roads.”
The public service announcements are now playing in movie theatres in Malaysia and can be viewed at www.youtube.com/a1teammalaysia.
A1 Team Malaysia crew members, along with the rest of the A1GP teams on the grid, will soon be regrouping to resume their A1GP duties and prepare for the fifth season of A1GP World Cup of Motorsport.