A1GP: Rounds 9 & 10 – Kyalami, South Africa – 22 February

Sprint race

Team Netherlands were entirely untroubled, leading from pole to chequered flag (bar briefly during the mandatory pit stops) with no one able to significantly threaten Jeroen Bleekemolen’s position, even though Filipe Albuquerque in second put in some fastest laps toward the end.

Team Switzerland got a fantastic start and leapt into a strong second place on the first lap, only to lose the position to Team Portugal during the pit stops when Neel Jani found his exit blocked by the Team Malaysia car parked ahead at an acute angle.

Ireland’s Adam Carroll snatched fourth from Monaco’s Clivio Piccione on the final lap; Piccione had earlier pulled off the overtaking move of the race, with a clever and aggressive multi-corner strategy getting him past Team India. Ironically Team Ireland had slipped through India as well in the aftermath, which ultimately set Carroll up for his shot on Piccione on the last lap.

Team GB went out after clumsily banging into Team Brazil down the front straight on lap 9, damaging Danny Watt’s suspension and beaching the car in the gravel of turn 1.

Pos  Driver               Team           Time
 1.  Jeroen Bleekemolen   Netherlands    21:35.105
 2.  Filipe Albuquerque   Portugal       +   4.407
 3.  Neel Jani            Switzerland    +  10.600
 4.  Adam Carroll         Ireland        +  12.925
 5.  Clivio Piccione      Monaco         +  14.363
 6.  Narain Karthikeyan   India          +  18.474
 7.  Adrian Zaugg         South Africa   +  21.178
 8.  Earl Bamber          New Zealand    +  26.539
 9.  Fairuz Fauzy         Malaysia       +  26.925
10.  Nicolas Prost        France         +  28.101
11.  Edoardo Piscopo      Italy          +  32.081
12.  John Martin          Australia      +  34.474
13.  Ho-Pin Tung          China          +  37.804
14.  Michael Ammermuller  Germany        +  39.068
15.  Felipe Guimaraes     Brazil         +  39.717
16.  Salvador Duran       Mexico         +  45.006
17.  Marco Andretti       USA            +  55.636
18.  Zahir Ali            Indonesia      +1:17.724


     Driver               Team           Laps
     Danny Watts          Great Britain  9
     Daniel Morad         Lebanon        6

Feature race

The A1GP championship took a sudden change after today’s feature race.

Former championship leaders Team Ireland got off to a good start but quickly ended up getting clipped from behind by Malaysia’s Fairuz Fauzy as Adam Carroll made a move to pass him on the outside of a fast right hander on the first lap.

That left the race – and the championship wide open, and Ireland’s closest competitors for the title, Team Switzerland, were ideally placed – sitting behind polesitters Team Monaco as the two cars built up a strong lead over the rest of the field. Monaco’s Clivio Piccione then had a slow first pit stop, granting the lead to Neel Jani – and he didn’t need any second chances, holding the top spot all the way to the chequered flag, taking a 3pt lead in the championship stakes as a result.

Piccione even missed out on second spot, getting overtaken by Team Brazil when he ran wide on lap 24. Brazil held on to the spot even though Felipe Guimaraes was suffering from a fuel pressure problem late in the race – but third is nonetheless still more than Monaco could have hoped for going into the race weekend.

Sprint race winner Jeroen Bleekemolen came through from ninth on the grid to take fourth for the Netherlands, followed for the second time in the day by Portugal’s Filipe Albuquerque.

And Lebanon’s Daniel Morad was another driver to come through from the back to take sixth place showing impressive race pace, only the second time that Lebanon have scored points in A1GP. Morad passed Danny Watts in the late stages of the race, meaning the British driver had to settle for a disappointing seventh after a difficult weekend for his team.

The most dramatic moment of the race came on lap 3 when New Zealand’s Earl Bamber and Malaysia’s Fairuz Fauzy collided under braking towards the end of the lap, causing Bamber to head into the gravel and out of the race; while seconds later at the same corner, as a result of the distraction, Mexico’s Salvador Duran and France’s Nicolas Prost made contact and ended up in the gravel too. Fauzy initially escaped the scene of the crime, but had to head for the pits a few laps later after another run-off with structural damage; he did eventually rejoin, albeit 19 laps down.

Another early front-runner, Australia’s John Martin, had his race ruined when traffic in the pit lane caused him to stall the car. Home favourites South Africa ground to a crawl on lap 16 with a technical problem, as did Team China 7 laps later.

Pos  Driver               Team           Time
 1.  Neel Jani            Switzerland    1h02:24.617
 2.  Felipe Guimaraes     Brazil          +   13.176
 3.  Clivio Piccione      Monaco          +   14.193
 4.  Jeroen Bleekemolen   Netherlands     +   17.024
 5.  Filipe Albuquerque   Portugal        +   17.995
 6.  Daniel Morad         Lebanon         +   31.210
 7.  Danny Watts          Great Britain   +   34.328
 8.  Marco Andretti       USA             +   59.000
 9.  Zahir Ali            Indonesia       + 1:03.995
10.  Edoardo Piscopo      Italy           + 1:04.856
11.  Michael Ammermuller  Germany         + 1:08.603
12.  Narain Karthikeyan   India           + 1:09.150
13.  John Martin          Australia       + 1:20.545

     Driver               Team           Laps
     Ho-Pin Tung          China          22
     Fairuz Fauzy         Malaysia       17
     Adrian Zaugg         South Africa   15
     Earl Bamber          New Zealand    3
     Nicolas Prost        France         3
     Salvador Duran       Mexico         3
     Adam Carroll         Ireland        0

A!GP championship standings

It remains very sight at the top, with Team Portugal’s successful weekend in South Africa making them a closing threat to Switzerland and Ireland:

Pos Team    Points
1   Switzerland     73
2   Ireland         70
3   Portugal        64
4   Netherlands     56
5   France          41
6   New Zealand     36
7   Malaysia        32
8   Australia       30
9   Monaco          23
10  Great Britain   20
11  USA             19
12  South Africa    19
13  Brazil          16
14  Italy           10
15  India            8
16  Lebanon          8
17  Korea            4
18  China            4
19  Indonesia        2

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