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Another setback for SA at A1

2005-11-20 12:29
Sepang - A pulsating battle for the lead on Sunday between Switzerland and France, who started from the front row of the grid, contributed to what turned out to be the best race of the inaugural A1 Grand Prix of Nations series so far.

France's Alexandre Premat chased down the Swiss Neel Jani and managed to get ahead on the final lap, pulling away after an initial fight back by the Swiss to win by 1.23 sec after 15 laps (83.10 km). Third, a further 3.83 sec back, was Great Britain's Robbie Kerr.

A good fourth was Brazil (Nelson Piquet Jr) who started eighth on the grid, but was hampered by brake problems in the second half of the race. Fifth was the Netherlands (Jos Verstappen and sixth was New Zealand (Matt Halliday).

South Africa's Stephen Simpson was again out of luck, rolling to a halt on lap 10 with an electrical problem that shut off all power.

He made a good start from 13th on the grid and passed four cars before the first corner, but dropped back to 15th by the end of the lap after being slowed by a first lap incident involving three cars.

Team South Africa was unable to complete repairs to the electrical problem in the short time between the two races and this meant Vulindlela could not take its 21st place on the grid.

South Africa ran as high as 11th before the mandatory pit stop for four new tyres, taken on lap 18 and completed in good time by the team. This dropped Simpson to 18th and he steadily made up places as the race wore on.

By lap 24 he was up to 14th and threatening Australia (Will Davison) who had started at the back of the grid. Unlike some of the others, Simpson was undeterred by a brief rain shower over part of the circuit and found himself in 12th place, still behind Australia, with two laps to go.

"I really enjoyed driving on this circuit and had it not been for our electrical problem, I'm sure we would have had a much more satisfying result in the sprint race," said Simpson.

This would have meant a better position on the starting grid for the feature race, where I believe we were due another top 10 finish."

Result: 1 France (Alexandre Premat) 29m 21,54s; 2 Switzerland (Neel Jani) +1,23s;3 Great Britain (Robbie Kerr) +5,06s; 4 Brazil (Nelson Piquet Jr)

+6,79s; 5 Netherlands (Jos Verstappen) +7,97s; 6 New Zealand (Matt Halliday) 13,16s; 7 Ireland (Ralph Firman ) +13,88s; 8 Malaysia (Alex Yoong) +15,78s; 9 Portugal (Alvare Parente) +20,39s; 10 USA (Bryan Herta) +20,84s.

Fastest lap: France, 1m 55,37s.


Team SA forges ahead

2005-11-20 10:23

Inside Wheels24

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