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2006-08-31 07:49

'Behind the scenes' of a Formula One team at Kyalami

Teams, Power of Dreams and the Honda Powered Dream Team, took to the famous South African circuit on a clear and balmy day last Monday.

With many experiencing the hive of activity in the pit lane for the first time, it was an opportunity for members of the media to show their skills in working behind the scenes of a Formula One team.

Max Power's Calvin Fisher and Ashfaaq Bux also attended the thrilling event.

With driver Alan van der Merwe in the cockpit of the Power of Dreams car, it was all action even before the flag had dropped. Fresh from achieving the world land speed record in a Formula One car, Van der Merwe's car stalled on its way to the grid, causing consternation amongst the pit crew and team management.

Allowing the car to cool slightly remedied the problem and he made his way to the pole position spot, having put in a superb qualifying time to find himself on top, after battling with understeer problems earlier in the morning.

When the race got underway the anticipation for the team was high, but an early incident saw Van der Merwe tap the rear of the Dream Team's car, driven by Gary Formato.

The car sustained minor damage to the front wing, and the race was stopped while hasty repairs were made in the teams garage. With the incident occurring on the first lap, this enabled a restart to take place, and both teams once again took their place on the grid.

Tensions were set to run even higher though, with Van der Merwe reporting a broken rear right suspension. Inspection on the grid sourced the problem as a broken push rod, and repairs were made on the grid under the South African sun.

With one less race lap, the lights eventually went out and the two cars launched from the line.

Formato got the better of Van der Merwe on the first lap, crossing the line narrowly ahead, but Van der Merwe was not going to let go. A superb push saw him cross the line ahead of the Dream team after lap two, and a true race ensued.

With both drivers in a true race of wits, it was Formato who crossed the line first on lap three, however there was confusion on lap four, when Van der Merwe heard the opposing team calling in their driver for the mandatory pit stop. With the pit crew caught unawares, they did a superb job to rush to the garage and change the tyres, a true testament to the teams ability to think on their feet.

Both drivers exited the pits to continue the battle on the track, and Van der Merwe put in a fantastic lap time to pull right up behind Formato at the end of lap six.

A yellow flag on the subsequent lap saw slower times and it looked to be a truly magnificent racing effort in the quest for the top step of the podium.

It was more drama for the Power of Dreams team though, when Van der Merwe reported gearbox failure on the penultimate lap. He valiantly continued and with only one gear managed to reach the line to the applause and admiration of all the team players present on the pit wall.

For all involved, the day represented a fantastic insight into the behind the scenes life of a Formula One team.
Left: Max Power's Calvin Fisher and other journalists in the pitstop.

The Power of Dreams team, with driver Alan Van der Merwe at the helm took on the role superbly and with mechanical problems the order of the day, it was a fantastic result to come a close second.

Drivers Report

Alan reported that the pace and set up of the car was good. There was a problem with communication as Alan heard the call to pit when in fact the call was for car 2.

The team was not expecting Alan in at the time and this created a delay.

Moving to P2 Alan started to catch Gary convincingly but tragedy struck when the car lost gears and got stuck in 4th.

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