A1 Team Canada fought their way from back of the grid to win the A1 Grand Prix of Nations, Sentul Circuit, Indonesia giving them their first win of the season. In front of a packed grandstand of 32,000 spectators, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and government representatives including the Ministers for Sport and Tourism, A1 Grand Prix laid on a spectacular race, action-packed from start to finish.
It was turmoil from the green light with pole sitter France's bad start allowing second place Great Britain to take the lead off the grid. Mexico also suffered a bad start and with cars taking avoiding action as they went into the first corner, Japan and Indonesia collided and the car bearing the rising sun ended up in the barrier while Ananda Mikola managed to stay on track.
The incidents brought out the safety car at the end of lap one and both Switzerland and Italy pitted. With the former obviously realising this was against the regulations unless the car was damaged, Neel Jani drove through the pits and rejoined the back of the field. A1 Team Mexico had obviously suffered damage as his right rear tyre came off the rim on lap two and so the car limped back to the pits. Several of the drivers took the opportunity to take their mandatory pit stop at the end of lap two but Great Britain did not and so maintained the lead. The safety car came in again at the end of lap three and as racing recommenced there was a collision between France and Malaysia, with the Sprint race winner having to pit for a new front wing.
The race was not the smoothest for the eventual winner as in lap five Canada was given a drive through penalty for crossing the line at the pit lane exit. A1 Team USA managed to keep going despite a visit to the gravel trap while man on a mission, Nicolas Lapierre found himself down in twentieth spot and a lap down on the leaders.
The safety car was soon out on the track again to retrieve A1 Team Lebanon's car from the gravel but they were not the only ones to go off at this point. Both France and Austria visited the gravel but were able to get out under their own steam.
At this point A1 Teams Malaysia and Netherlands made their pit stops from the front of the field but race leader Great Britain stayed out, with the team saying that he was past the point where he could pit when they knew the safety car was going to come out.
The safety car came in at the end of lap 11 at which point the order was Great Britain, South Africa and Portugal. Canada and the USA were battling for twelfth place with the former getting by on lap 12 followed closely by A1 Team Netherlands. The Indonesian fans had to suffer more disappointment on lap 13 when their hero collided with Malaysia and spun although luckily he was able to continue. This was also the point when China joined the race having fixed the gear box problems suffered in the earlier Sprint race.
The number of cars visiting the gravel traps continued to rise with A1 Team India and A1 Team Ireland off in turn three on lap 14 and then to add insult to injury the Indian team were given a drive through penalty for a false start and the Irish team retired at the end of lap 15. However, there was some compensation for the Irish team as driver Ralph Firman scored the bonus point for recording the weekend's fastest race lap at 1.19.029 at a speed of 180.6 km/h, setting a new lap record for the Sentul circuit.
While Great Britain and South Africa were leading, third and fourth were Portugal and Mexico. A1 Team Mexico had made their pit stop and so were in a strong position as the others hadn't. However as they went into turn one at the start of lap 19 they collided with Portugal and retired from the race while Portugal continued. The safety car was deployed yet again but neither A1 Team Great Britain nor South Africa pitted. The safety car came in at the end of lap 22 as the cars went down into turn one it was South Africa who got the best of a side by side battle with Great Britain and came out in front.
By the end of lap 24, it was obvious that A1 Team Canada could win their first race as only rain could save Great Britain and South Africa who still needed to make a pit stop each. India was not having a good race and received its second drive through penalty, this time for ignoring a red light when exiting the pit lane.
Another team having an uncharacteristically bad race was France with yet another excursion to the gravel pit on lap 28 with A1 Team New Zealand although no contact was made.
One of the scarier moments of the race was on lap 30 when following contact with Malaysia, Netherlands spun and ended up coming back on the racing line with A1 Team Portugal bearing down on him. Thankfully the quick reactions of Alvaro Parente avoided an accident and both stayed on track.
A1 Team Great Britain's hopes of its first win disappeared at the end of lap 30 when the car pitted and lost 44.5 seconds which included time for a sticking left rear tyre. By the time Robbie Kerr had rejoined the race, they were down in fifteenth.
Lap 31 saw A1 Team Germany head into the gravel with what was obviously a problem with the front right tyre and A1 Team Czech Republic visit the outs for a new nose. On the next lap it was retirement for A1 Team Italy after a spin which left the car stranded on the side of the track.
At the end of lap 33, A1 Team Canada was assured of a win as South Africa made its pit stop. At this point there was less than one second between Canada and Malaysia but by the time the cars crossed the finish line at the end of lap 36, the gap was nearly two seconds.
It was a great weekend for newcomers to A1 Grand Prix as Marcus Marshall for A1 Team Australia and Christian Fittipaldi for A1 Team Brazil finished third and fourth respectively. Fittipaldi's spectacular drive put them back up above A1 Team Great Britain at third place in the championship points standing.
First-time winner, Sean McIntosh, A1 Team Canada: 'It's just an unbelievable result after the Sprint race. I shot myself in the foot in the Sprint race, and came to win from the back, even with a drive through penalty. It wasn't an easy decision to pit early and then having to do the drive through penalty I lost all the ground I made up. I overtook about six cars after that and by the end of the race there were quite severe vibrations in the tyres.'
Ironically, it will not be Sean McIntosh that drives for A1 Team Canada at the next races in Mexico and the USA as new signing Patrick Carpentier gets behind the wheel. 'I've set a high standard for Patrick, the pressure is on him now. But the team has more points now and I will be back in China and back strong', McIntosh continued.
Second place man Alex Yoong said: 'I'm elated for the team. The car was very strong. We should have pitted earlier though, we could have been even closer. This is what the Series is all about, there was so much overtaking, the cars are strong and built to overtake. Jos Verstappen and I had a real cat and mouse fight as we made our way through the field. It is such a good result for the team and for our new sponsor Proton. Having Proton on board has made such a difference for the team, as we have been able to concentrate on the racing rather than getting to the next race.'
Finishing on the podium in his first outing for A1 Team Australia, Marcus Marshall said: 'It feels really good to be on the podium, especially after I didn't even know whether I was coming or not. We really struggled in the dry and a bit in Qualifying but we kept pushing all weekend. We never gave up, and although there was too much wing on the car, which meant I was losing time on the straights, I was setting good times in the other sectors. I'm really stoked for the team, Fosters and everyone at home. A big hello to everyone in Australia.'
Marcus Marshall and Sean McIntosh praised the crowds that cheered them on. 'The crowd were awesome. I know there have been smaller crowds elsewhere, but this is the same for any series, I experienced the same in Champ Car, some places take to Motorsport and some don't' said Marcus Marshall.
'The support for Ananda Mikola was amazing in the crowd and for the other drivers as well. The country of Indonesia has been amazing and the people really passionate and excited about A1GP', continued Sean McIntosh.