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SA team performs well at Durban A1

2006-01-29 21:44
It was a race of attrition with many drivers falling victim to the tight confines and daunting concrete barriers of the first street circuit in South Africa to ever host a major international formula race.

In the sprint race (before the feature race) Simpson, finished 20th, seven laps behind, after having to visit the pits to fix an electrical fault that affected his gear changing. He had started from 16th place on the grid and was lying 13th and pressured the Australian car when he experienced the problem. He rejoined the race after his pit crew fixed the problem and managed to complete 13 laps of the 20 laps

During the feature race Simpson maintained his concentration and kept out of trouble to steadily move up the field as others fell out or dropped back.

Team South Africa's pit crew pulled off yet another slick mandatory pit stop to replace all four tyres, helping Simpson to leapfrog several of his rivals.

He was greeted with a standing ovation by the packed grandstand opposite the pits at the end of the race and was loudly cheered when he climbed through the catch fencing to throw his gloves into the stand.

The race was won in dramatic fashion by the Netherlands' Jos Verstappen, the 33-year-old veteran and former F1 driver who had started from 16th on the grid after a last lap attempt to pass sprint race winner France lost him a sure second place.

It was a popular win for the Dutchman who chased down early leader Switzerland (Neel Jani) and took the lead on the last lap to win by 1.7s. Third was Portugal, ahead of New Zealand, South Africa, Italy (Massimo Busnelli), sprint race winner France (hampered by a drive-through penalty for a pit stop infringement), Austria (Mathias Lauda), Brazil and Canada (Sean McIntosh).

"We really wanted to give the incredibly supportive fans a good result after the disappointment of the sprint race,"said a tired by delighted Simpson after the race. "I knew if I kept out of trouble and didn't make any mistakes I could finish in the points. It was hard work and very tiring, but I am relieved and very proud to have finished in the top five.

Team South Africa CEO Dana Cooper, paying tribute to the team who put South Africa's first A1GP race together in record time, after work on the circuit commenced at the end of November, said the support of the sell-out crowd who packed every possible vantage point and every grandstand was the best reward for all the hard work.

The races were watched by VIP guests President Thabo Mbeki, KZN premier Sbu Ndebele and Durban mayor Obed Mlaba, who were introduced to the spectators and officials and shown around the pits area by Sheikh Maktoum, A1GP CEO Tony Teixeira and Team South Africa principal and seat holder Tokyo Sexwale.

Feature race result:

  • 1 Netherlands (Jos Verstappen) 1h 00m 546,0s;
  • 2 Switzerland (Neel Jani) +1,7s;
  • 3 Portugal (Alvaro Parente) +1,9s;
  • 4 New Zealand (Matt Halliday) +4,3s;
  • 5 South Africa (Stephen Simpson) +9,4s;
  • 6 Italy (Massimo Busnelli) +10,7s;
  • 7 France (Alexandre Premat) +12,2s;
  • 8 Austria (Mathias Lauda) +30,1s;
  • 9 Brazil (Nelson Piquet Jr) +1m 3,6s;
  • 10 Canada (Sean McIntosh) +4 laps.


    SA committed to A1 GP

    2006-07-07 12:24

    Inside Wheels24

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