A1 Team New Zealand banked a solid eleven points in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport today at Malaysia's Sepang circuit, after a mature drive from eighteen-year-old Earl Bamber.
Both the Sprint and Feature races saw some spectacular crashes on the opening laps. Avoiding the carnage, Bamber scored third place in the Sprint race, and backed this up with sixth in the Feature, after starting from fifteenth place.
In the Sprint Race, USA, Brazil and India collided on the run up to the rolling start, before the race had even started. The red flag was needed to clear up the broken race-cars, and when the race resumed, it was led by eventual winner Team Switzerland.
Starting third, Bamber held position early in the race. A super fast pit stop by the Kiwi crew saw Black Beauty rejoin the track in second place.
However it was a tight call for the team when they released Bamber from the pitstop, as he emerged from his pit box alongside the French car. To avoid the risk for further penalty, the decision was made to relinquish second back to Team France.
Bamber made his third trip to the podium in as many races in Season Four of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, as he held third to the finish, eleven seconds down on the race winner Switzerland, and hot on the heels of Team France.
The Feature Race was always going to be a busy affair. With leading nations including New Zealand and Switzerland starting near the rear of the field, the charge through was expected to be impressive.
An early spin by Swiss driver Neel Jani put the Sprint Race winner out of the Feature Race, and brought out the safety car. Great Britain got caught up at the re-start with France, and was forced to take a long pit stop to replace the nose of their car, while the French car needed a new rear tyre from the same incident.
With nineteen laps to run, Bamber had worked Black Beauty into the top ten, and continued the charge forward while at the same time staying out of trouble. He did give the team a brief scare when he left the pits for the first time, as he ran wide and came terrifyingly close to hitting a fellow nation.
In the final few laps before the chequered flag, Black Beauty was racing against rugby rivals Australia and South Africa, in scenes reminiscent of a Tri-Nations clash.
At the chequered flag, New Zealand had gained nine places in all, finishing without damage in sixth place. This gave the Kiwi team a solid points haul as the championship takes a break over Christmas, before heading to the team's home race in Taupo early next year.
Team Ireland won the Feature Race, after a dominant performance with driver Adam Carroll finishing almost sixteen seconds ahead of second placed Team Portugal, the Feature Race winner at the previous round at Chengdu, China.
In the championship standings, New Zealand move back up the ladder to now hold joint third place with France. The big drop in positions following Sepang was host nation Malaysia. After a communication error in the Feature Race, Malaysia drop from leading the championship coming into their home round, to now sit two points below New Zealand in fifth.
Ireland move from second place in the points to the lead, with an eight point margin over Portugal.
With an eight week break before New Zealand's home race, the engineering team behind Black Beauty will be closely studying the data from Black Beauty, to further fine-tune the setup of the still relatively new race car.
The next round of the championship, A1GP Taupo gets on track over the weekend 23-25 January 2009. Tickets are on sale for the fastest race ever to be held in New Zealand, from the website www.A1GPTaupo.com.
Earl Bamber, Driver
"We had really good pace today, especially in clean air with no traffic in front of us"
"The team did some fantastic pit-stops today, which really helped us work our way forward in the Feature Race"
Colin Giltrap, A1 Team New Zealand Seat Holder
"We made the right call to use the Power-Boost in the Sprint Race Qualifying session"
John Sears, Team Manager
"Earl put in a near faultless performance again. He only ran wide on his in lap for a stop during the Feature Race, which cost us a second or two."
Feature race results
Pos A1 Team Driver Laps Time
1 IRELAND Adam CARROLL 34 1:05:52.2
2 PORTUGAL Filipe ALBUQUERQUE 34 1:06:08.2
3 USA Marco ANDRETTI 34 1:06:39.8
4 AUSTRALIA John MARTIN 34 1:06:43.9
5 SOUTH AFRICA Adrian ZAUGG 34 1:06:44.3
6 NEW ZEALAND Earl BAMBER 34 1:06:46.6
7 BRAZIL Felipe GUIMARAES 34 1:06:49.6
8 NETHERLANDS Jeroen BLEEKEMOLEN 34 1:06:49.7
9 CHINA Ho Pin TUNG 34 1:06:51.4
10 MALAYSIA Fairuz FAUZY 34 1:06:56.1
11 ITALY Edoardo PISCOPO 34 1:06:58.4
12 LEBANON Daniel MORAD 34 1:07:07.2
13 INDONESIA Satrio HERMANTO 34 1:07:08.0
14 FRANCE Loic DUVAL 34 1:07:08.7
15 MEXICO David GARZA 34 1:07:22.2
16 GREAT BRITAIN Danny WATTS 28 1:06:01.6
17 MONACO Clivio PICCIONE 2 0:48:45.4
18 INDIA Narain KARTHIKEYAN 0
19 SWITZERLAND Neel JANI 0
Sprint race results
Pos A1 Team Driver Laps Time
1 SWITZERLAND Neel JANI 11 22:41.567
2 FRANCE Loic DUVAL 11 22:51.479
3 NEW ZEALAND Earl BAMBER 11 22:53.380
4 PORTUGAL Filipe ALBUQUERQUE 11 22:54.020
5 IRELAND Adam CARROLL 11 22:54.772
6 NETHERLANDS Jeroen BLEEKEMOLEN 11 22:56.966
7 ITALY Edoardo PISCOPO 11 23:01.514
8 AUSTRALIA John MARTIN 11 23:03.004
9 SOUTH AFRICA Adrian ZAUGG 11 23:09.241
10 CHINA Ho Pin TUNG 11 23:11.059
11 LEBANON Daniel MORAD 11 23:13.616
12 MONACO Clivio PICCIONE 11 23:13.973
13 INDONESIA Satrio HERMANTO 11 23:20.526
14 MEXICO David GARZA 11 23:36.622
15 MALAYSIA Fairuz FAUZY 10 22:46.989
16 GREAT BRITAIN Danny WATTS 4 23:20.949
17 BRAZIL Felipe GUIMARAES 0
18 INDIA Narain KARTHIKEYAN 0
19 USA Marco ANDRETTI 0
2008/09 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport points standings
Pos A1 Team Points
1 Ireland 43
2 Portugal 35
3 France 31
4 New Zealand 31
5 Malaysia 29
6 Switzerland 28
7 Netherlands 26
8 Australia 22
9 Great Britain 16
10 USA 16
11 South Africa 15
12 Monaco 9
13 Italy 4
14 Brazil 4
15 Korea 4
16 China 4
17 Lebanon 3
18 India 1
19 Indonesia 0
20 Mexico 0
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