With A1 Team Great Britain’s on-track charge led by 23-year-old Oliver Jarvis, the rookie racer from Burwell, Cambridgeshire duly delivered a ‘Best of British’ routine as he dominated the opposition around the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez to score the team’s first A1GP victory after nearly two seasons of competing against its rival nations.
Jarvis, runner-up in the 2006 British F3 Championship, led the team to the top step of the podium in just his second A1GP outing, his previous venture in China last November rewarding the British squad with its first podium of the season. While Robbie Kerr went on to score further podiums in Malaysia, Indonesia and South Africa, to add to his haul of seven from the inaugural A1GP season, Oliver’s faultless performance, combined with some slick teamwork in Mexico City, saw the team celebrate its maiden win having come so close on several occasions.
Leap-frogging last season’s World Champions, A1 Team France, Great Britain now sits third in the 2006-07 A1GP Nations Standings just 13 points behind New Zealand (74-61) with two rounds remaining, including the season finale on home soil at the Brands Hatch Circuit in Kent. Despite a mixed weekend, A1 Team Germany maintains its series points lead.
Having jetted back to Japan, where he’s set to compete in the 2007 All-Japan F3 Championship, Oliver took time out to reflect on the weekend’s accomplishments in A1GP.
Q: Please sum up how it feels to have taken Great Britain’s first A1GP victory?
Oliver Jarvis (OJ): “I have to admit it hasn’t really sunk in yet! Crossing the line I couldn’t really believe it. I’d dreamed of the moment since first being involved with the British team so to actually achieve the win was just fantastic. It was a great feeling and one I enjoyed sharing with the whole team!"
Q: You’ve scored three podium finishes in just four A1GP race starts, how do you rate your performances in comparison to your other achievements?
OJ: “I’ve been very satisfied with my performances in A1GP so-far. Of course I would have liked to have made it four podiums in four starts but in comparison to my other achievements Sunday’s win definitely ranks up there as one of the best. Obviously I regard winning the 2005 McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver Award as a great accomplishment, not least for its prestige and the weight it carries within the motorsport industry, but certainly I’d say in terms of actual racing, the win in Mexico was probably my best on-track achievement."
Q: You were never lower than third in any of the practice and qualifying sessions leading up to Sunday’s Sprint and Feature races, were you confident you could take a win from the weekend?
OJ: “I headed into the weekend full of confidence, even before we turned a wheel. Friday’s practice sessions simply reaffirmed the confidence I had within myself and in the team that we could get the job done. We were happy with our pace and with the Feature race in mind we were sure we had a good package as we knew we’d be competitive on used tires."
Q: Did you have a strategy in mind for the Sprint race?
OJ: “To be honest the strategy worked exactly to plan! The idea for the Sprint was to get a good start and stay as close to the Malaysian car as possible while beating the German entry into the first turn. It would have been difficult to beat both Malaysia and Germany so second place was really as much as I’d hoped to get out of the Sprint race but it gave me a great opportunity from the front row of the grid for the Feature. We achieved our goal of a decent Sprint result and we carried the momentum from that firmly into the afternoon."
Q: You made a terrific start in the Feature race, once you headed into the first corner at the head of the pack how easy was it for you to control the pace of the race?
OJ: “Well we knew it was important to try and get a good lead at the start but from there our focus switched to ensuring we got the most out of our new set of tires following my pit-stop. We knew the American team would probably pit later and would therefore have fresher tires later in the race but I felt comfortable out in front and I knew, as I said earlier, that we had a competitive car even on old rubber. I just concentrated on setting consistent laps times and we enjoyed a healthy advantage throughout the majority of the race before the last few laps when Jonathan (Summerton) closed the gap for A1 Team USA."
Q: Were you aware of Jonathan Summerton’s progress directly behind you in the closing stages of the Feature?
OJ: “Yes, the team kept in touch with me via my radio and the pit-board but I was also picking a point on the circuit on each lap where I used my mirrors to gauge just how close Jonathan actually was. I noticed he was pushing very hard towards the end of the race but I knew as long as I kept banging out consistent lap times it would be impossible for him to catch and pass me with so few laps left."
Q: Describe your feelings when you were standing on the top step of the podium with the British national anthem playing and the team in front of you?
OJ: “It was undoubtedly a very emotional moment and one I’d longed for since I first tested the British A1GP car last summer. It was just a fantastic moment for the whole team and it was great to be able to share in that. Everyone on the team had worked so hard and you could really see on their faces just how happy they were to finally get that first win."
Q: How frustrating is it for you to have taken the win in Mexico but know you won’t be in the car at the next round in China due to your commitments in the All-Japan F3 Championship?
OJ: “Well obviously I was aware of the situation heading into the Mexico City race as I’m contracted to the TOM’S Toyota Team in Japan this season but naturally it’s a bit disappointing to not be able to get back into the British car in Shanghai. That said it’s really the British round at Brands Hatch in April that I’d love to be back in the car for. I’d like to think that with a good race behind me there might be the possibility that I’d get the opportunity to race again on home soil!"
Q: What kind of impact do you think your win on Sunday will have on the British team and on the British A1GP round at Brands Hatch at the end of April?
OJ: “I’d like to think the win gets a huge monkey off the team’s back! They can go out there and race knowing they’re winners; they don’t have to deal with the pressure of getting that first win any longer. I’m really hoping it’s the catalyst for a good end to the season, we’ve moved up into third in the points and we’re now just 13 points behind New Zealand in second. I hope if nothing else it creates more of a buzz about A1GP and the Brands Hatch event. Last year’s race there was such a success and hopefully that can be emulated, especially with the home crowd anticipating more wins from the British team!"
A1 Team Great Britain is partnered in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport by Visit London, VisitBritain, Quintessentially and Oakley.
Round 10 of the 2006-07 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport sees a return to China and the Shanghai International Circuit, Friday 13th – Sunday 15th April – www.a1gp.com