RACING NEWS

Switzerland Storms To Sepang Double Victory

Switzerland Storms To Sepang Double Victory image

Text: / Photos: | posted November 26, 2007 04:00

Pole sitter and Sprint race winner A1 Team Switzerland took its second win of the day in this afternoon's incident-packed Feature race at Sepang in scorching weather conditions, moving the team into the championship lead by 10 points. Jani was joined on the podium by Brazilian rookie Sergio Jimenez, who started the race sixth and led for 15 laps, in second position and French driver Loic Duval in third.

Jani made a perfect getaway in the Swiss car as Great Britain's Oliver Jarvis held second off the grid and further down the pack five cars tangled going into turn one. Jani pulled out a 2.5 second advantage by the end of lap one as third and fourth-placed France and Brazil concentrated on making their way past GBR, demoting Jarvis to fourth.

After a second lap tussle for 10th position, New Zealand's Jonny Reid and local hero Malaysia's Alex Yoong were forced to pit for repairs, rejoining the action at the back of the field. Lap five saw German rookie Michael Ammermüller snatch fifth from Ireland's Adam Carroll, who had made another superb start to make up two places from seventh on the grid.

Two laps later eighth-placed South Africa's Adrian Zaugg made a mistake going into turn seven and spun off into the gravel before returning 'Vulindlela' to the track, forcing Canada's Robert Wickens to run wide to avoid him.

The incident brought out the safety car and as the first pit stop window opened on lap eight, 20 of the 22 nations decided to pit under yellow. The crowds watched in amazement as the pack was then held at the end of pit lane for an unusual standing start as they waited to rejoin behind the safety car.

Brazil's Jimenez took the lead and pulled away as Switzerland, GBR and France went side-by-side in a battle for second place, Jani taking position followed by Duval and Jarvis in third and fourth place.

By lap 16 the order had settled behind the top four to Germany, Netherlands, India and China, followed by Mexico and Ireland in ninth and tenth. Race leader Jimenez did an incredible job to hold off the Swiss driver who was all over the back of the Brazilian car while Germany's Ammermüller received a drive through penalty for hitting GBR when he tried an ambitious move on Jarvis at turn two on lap 19.

The second pit stop window opened on lap 22 and Brazil decided to stay out while Switzerland pitted from second on lap 23. Jimenez pitted one lap later and rejoined the action behind Jani, as the Swiss driver regained the lead and started to pull away once again. GBR continued to endure a difficult race as the team struggled with a sticking wheel nut in their second stop on lap 24 and then received a drive through penalty three laps later for speeding in the pit lane.

With seven laps remaining, Ammermüller launched the German car ambitiously into turn two for the third time this weekend, taking out the Czech Republic's Erik Janis on his way.

Meanwhile at the front of the pack, Jani continued to pull away from Jimenez and went on to cross the line in first position, giving the Swiss team a perfect end to the weekend with its first double victory and Feature race win. Jimenez, who has been improving all weekend, brought the Brazilian car home in second place, scoring the nation's first podium finish since round four of season one. Third place went to Duval in the French car, promoting the team to second in the championship while the Netherlands' Jeroen Bleekemolen crossed the line a well-earned fourth.

A1 Team China's CongFu Cheng put in a strong performance to finish fifth, having started from eighth on the grid while India's Narain Karthikeyan crossed the line sixth. Ireland's Adam Carroll finished seventh while the final three point-scoring positions were taken by New Zealand, Australia and Great Britain, as Jarvis snatched tenth from USA in the closing seconds of the race.

Jani was clearly delighted to take Switzerland's first Feature race win and can't wait to get back on track at the next round in China:

'I mean how many times have I lead a Feature race when something happened in the last lap, the pit stop messed up everything, it was just a horrible dream so far of a Feature race for us. And now finally we got that win and the first time in the championship lead for the A1GP for Switzerland, so it's really great and I'm really looking forward to Zhuhai.'

Jimenez, who crossed the line second and gave Brazil its first podium since season one, said:

'I'm really happy but it was a very tough race for me. I had a very good start - we jumped to third and I could keep Switzerland and France in my sights. After the first pit stop we had red lights but it was lucky for me because I could stop side by side with Neel and go to the front, and after that I was with new tyres so I was able to put some distance between us and we were on a different strategy. It was good, but it could be better though!'

Duval, who has impressed all weekend, brought the French car home in third place, moving his nation into second in the championship:

'It was a very difficult race for me, quite tough. I had a good fight with Oliver, good overtaking before the fast corners and then I overtook Jimenez before the main straight. So I was quite OK during the first stint. I had the same problem as Neel during the first pit stop on the safety car when we arrived at the end of the pit at the red light. So like him, I don't know if it's allowed to overtake under the safety car in the pit. So I was fourth again and I had to overtake Oliver again, and then I couldn't follow the guys because I had massive understeer during the second stint. We put the new tyres on for the last stint which was good, the car was much better like this so I could catch the Brazil car but not enough to finish second. It's quite a good weekend.'

Switzerland now leads the title challenge on 61 points, ahead of France on 51, as the series heads to Zhuhai, China for the first time on 14-16 December 2007.

Home nation Malaysia scored its first point by default this morning after A1 Team Netherlands was given a 42-second penalty for jump starting the Sprint race. The penalty dropped them from eighth to 20th in the Sprint race classification, stripping the team of the three points it scored. The penalty also meant that Ireland and Italy received an extra point.

A1 Teams Brazil and Great Britain have both been hit with a two second penalty for gaining an unfair advantage in the pit lane during the first mandatory stop in this afternoon's Feature race, promoting France to second place, USA to tenth and Mexico to 11th.

Germany was penalised with the equivalent time of a drive through penalty for causing an avoidable collision with Great Britain on lap 19 and following a further avoidable collision with the Czech Republic on lap 28, Germany was excluded from the final Feature race results.