RACING NEWS

Germany Wins as New Zealand Takes Title Lead in Taupo

Germany Wins as New Zealand Takes Title Lead in Taupo image

Text: / Photos: courtesy of A1GP | posted February 15, 2008 05:00

A1 Team Germany's Christian Vietoris, who has been on sensational form all weekend, secured his first A1GP race win in this afternoon's action-packed Feature race at Taupo Motorsport Park while New Zealand's points haul put the home team at the top of the championship standings.

Germany was joined on the podium by Canada's Robert Wickens in second, the team's best result of the season, and pole-sitter France's Loic Duval in third. The local favourite, New Zealand's Jonny Reid, was on incredible form, racing to a brilliant fourth place, having fallen back seven places to 12th at the start. The points picked up this weekend put New Zealand two points ahead of Switzerland and France in the championship.

Ireland's Adam Carroll put in a superb performance to finish fifth after starting from 13th on the grid despite an early collision which led to an additional pit stop for the emerald green car. He was closely followed by Brazil's Sergio Jimenez who carried out some impressive overtaking manoeuvres on his way to sixth place, having started 11th.

South Africa's Adrian Zaugg, USA's Jonathan Summerton and the Netherlands's Jeroen Bleekemolen crossed the line in seventh, eighth and ninth place respectively while Mexico's David Garza drove hard from 15th on the grid to finish 10th and pick up his first point for the team on only his second A1GP race outing.

Previous championship leader Switzerland's Neel Jani endured a difficult afternoon, receiving two drive through penalties for a false start and for overtaking under yellow flags. The Swiss team picked up a bonus point for the fastest lap and finally crossed the line a disappointing 14th behind Portugal. Joao Urbano started sixth and had been on course to score Portugal's best result of the season, running in third for 12 laps of the race, until he was hit with a drive through penalty for crossing the white line on entering the pit lane.

Eight of the 22 teams failed to finish the race, including China's Congfu Cheng, who spun off the track from seventh place, as many were victims of the dusty and slippery track conditions.

A1GP rookie Robert Wickens, who was awarded third place in Malaysia earlier this season after the podium ceremony had been completed, was encouraged by his second place finish and thrilled that he and his Canadian team-mates were able to enjoy the celebrations:

'We're definitely making steps in right direction, from our first race in Zandvoort to where we are now. The car has improved a lot and the team finally got a decent result that we all deserve. We got a podium in Malaysia but I wasn't on it so this time the team got to celebrate and taste the champagne, so it was a great experience. The whole team did a great job today. There is really only one passing opportunity out on track and the team did an outstanding job in the pits.'

Christian Vietoris, who secured second in the Sprint race and a sensational win in the Feature, was delighted with his team's performance this weekend:

'It was a really brilliant weekend for us. The car was a little bit off the pace on Friday but we improved the car all weekend and we were on the pace for qualifying and the Sprint race this morning. The team did two good pit stops in the Feature which put me to the front and held me there. It was really hard to keep Loic Duval behind me, especially on the long back straight, but we managed to hold position and I am very happy.'

France's Loic Duval, who started the race from pole position for the first time this season, was disappointed with his team's third place finish:

'This race was there for us and we lost it. Sometimes it can happen. We were too slow in the pits and we lost first position but there's nothing more to say about that. It's really hard to pass here but I did the maximum I could. I was maybe more trying to push him (Christian Vietoris) to do a mistake because it was really difficult to overtake, but he didn't so he was leading and it was really difficult for me to try anything. That's why we did one lap more than him before the pit stop to try to get in front of him but then we lost a bit of time in the pit stop again, so we lost two positions. There is nothing else for me to say.'

New Zealand now leads the championship on 82 points, two ahead of Switzerland and France who are equal on 80 points.

The championship remains in the Southern Hemisphere and the teams will be back on track in two weeks time for round six in Sydney, Australia on 1-3 February 2008.