Switzerland Take Feature Race Victory in South Africa

Switzerland Take Feature Race Victory in South Africa image

Text: / Photos: | posted January 16, 2009 00:00

Switzerland's Neel Jani claimed victory in this afternoon's Go-GP.Org A1GP Gauteng, South Africa Feature race with what his Seat Holder, Max Welti, would most likely call a 'gorgeous' drive from fifth on the grid. The win means Neel Jani equals the all-time win record for a driver, Nico Hulkenberg's record of nine wins for Germany.

Jani finished 13.176 seconds ahead of Brazil's Felipe Guimarães, the 17-year-old putting in a mature drive to record the team's best result of the year at the Kyalami circuit despite crashing heavily at the end of yesterday's qualifying. Pole-sitter Clivio Piccione finished in third for Monaco after losing the lead to Switzerland in the first round of pit stops and then dropping behind Brazil after making a mistake.

As the Feature race got underway, Switzerland made a fantastic start to move from fifth to second into turn one. A1 Team Ireland's Adam Carroll was making a move around the outside of Malaysia for fourth when the pair touched resulting in the championship leader being beached in the gravel and out of the race.

Brazil made a good start, running in sixth by the end of lap one, while the battle for third was on as Malaysia began putting pressure on New Zealand's Earl Bamber. Bamber's defensive driving kept Malaysia at bay until lap four when Malaysia touched the rear wheel of New Zealand with Bamber spinning into the gravel. Fauzy was then forced to pit with a suspected slow puncture from the incident and after changing a front tyre, he returned to the track, although now back in 16th place. A few laps later Fauzy returned to the pits for his mandatory stop and with four new tyres returned to the race track.

On the same lap, Mexico and France also came together at the same corner ending both their races.

On lap nine the first mandatory pit stops began with race-leader Monaco not having the quickest of stops. Switzerland's slick team-work enabled Jani to leap-frog Piccione and take the lead in Kyalami. Despite having a good stop, Australia had a disaster in the pit lane when John Martin stalled as another car came across in front of him when he was about to leave his pit box. He eventually got going but dropped down from third to 15th as a result.

USA's Marco Andretti was the last to pit, but on rejoining lost four positions as South Africa, Germany, Lebanon and Indonesia all found their way passed the American car.

Local A1 Team South Africa's Adrian Zaugg was looking strong, having moved up from 15th to ninth, but on lap 17 coasted back to the pits and out of the race with gearbox problems.

Daniel Morad was putting in a good performance in the A1 Team Lebanon car to get passed Germany for seventh. Morad made his move around the outside of Michael Ammermüller through turn one before taking the inside line through turn two and the position.

On lap 19 the order was now Switzerland from Monaco, Brazil, Netherlands, Great Britain, Portugal, Lebanon, Germany, Indonesia and China.

As the race reached half distance, Brazil began closing the gap to Monaco. The Brazilian car was only 0.466-seconds adrift on lap 24 with the 17-year-old finally capitalising on a mistake by Piccione to take second position.

In the second round of pit stops Switzerland had a ten second lead and another clean stop brought Jani out with a comfortable lead.

After the second pit stops, Malaysia continued to struggle with the handling of the car and was finally forced to go back to the team garage. The team worked quickly to resolve the problems and were finally able to send Fauzy back on track. With no hope of finishing in the top ten to score points, the team took the decision to use the PowerBoost and set the fastest race lap to score one point and Fauzy quickly accomplished this recording a 1m28.306s.

In the final stages of the race India put pressure on Italy's Edoardo Piscopo for tenth. Narain Karthikeyan tried on a number of occasions to pass the 21-year-old Italian but to no avail.

Lebanon's Morad was now chasing Great Britain's Danny Watts for sixth and, with three laps to go, made a fantastic move on Watts to record Lebanon's best ever A1GP finish, only its second ever points-finish.

Switzerland's Neel Jani took the chequered flag 13.075-seconds ahead of a delighted Felipe Guimarães who recorded the team's best result of the season and become the youngest ever A1GP medal winner. Clivio Piccione finished third getting Monaco's first ever podium in its debut season.

Switzerland is now top of the 2008/09 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport standings with A1 Team Ireland crashing out on lap one after an incident with Malaysia.

Switzerland's Neel Jani said: "It was a little bit of a replay start from Taupo, from fifth to second. I was a bit worried starting from fifth, because I knew the first two turns would be very close and you could get knocked off easily, so my strategy was to just try the outside and it really worked and was a fantastic start. I then tried to follow Clivio (Piccione) and I struggled a bit. But then we had a great pit stop and I had good pace. I think Monaco had a bit of bad luck in the pit stop so that helped us too. But after it I could really keep up my pace."