A1GP France Ends Victory Drought with Fantastic Win in the Wet

Australia - A1 Team France has taken the title lead in the thrilling 2007/08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport season, having dominated this morning's wet Sprint race at Sydney's Eastern Creek from start to finish to take its first win in 37 races.

Loic Duval pulled out a comfortable lead at the start of the 14-lap race and was never threatened by the remaining 21-car pack, continuing to pull away from Switzerland and New Zealand as the rain got heavier. Duval finally crossed the line in first place, nine seconds ahead of Jonny Reid in Black Beauty, who masterfully snatched second position from Neel Jani on lap nine. The Swiss driver spun off later in the race and lost valuable championship points.

The win is 25-year-old Frenchman Duval's first victory in A1GP and ends season one champion France's race win drought. The team has not occupied the top step of the podium since Alexandre Premat won the Mexico Feature race in 2006.

France and New Zealand were joined on the podium by 18-year-old Canadian rookie Robert Wickens, who put in an incredible performance in the wet to race from 15th on the grid to a finish in a superb third place and pick up ten valuable championship points for his nation.

Germany's Michael Ammermüller crossed the line fourth having started from seventh on the grid, closely followed by USA's Jonathan Summerton in fifth, the team's best finish so far this season.

Host nation A1 Team Australia's John Martin gave his home fans something to cheer about, pushing hard throughout the race and improving three places from the start to cross the line in sixth position, ahead of South Africa's Adrian Zaugg and Brazil's Sergio Jimenez in seventh and eighth places respectively.

The Netherlands' Jeroen Bleekemolen finished the incident-packed race ninth while Switzerland's Neel Jani, who was running in second for much of the race, fell back to tenth after he ran wide with two laps to go.

Great Britain's Robbie Kerr, whose race engineer had struggled from his hospital bed to stand on the pit wall with his broken leg in a plaster cast, got a great start from eighth on the grid but lost time when the team decided to pit for wet tyres on lap eight, ultimately crossing the line a disappointing 16th.

The 22 nations are now preparing for the main event of the weekend at Eastern Creek, a thrilling 70-minute Feature race with two compulsory pit stops, which starts at 15:00 this afternoon.

France's Loic Duval, who took his first ever A1GP win in what he says will be his last event for the team this year, reflected on what the result means to him and the team:

'It feels great. We've been running behind for a long time so it's really good for us to win this race and the team did a great job. It was perfect and we needed it. It was important for us to win a race and this may be my last race in A1GP so I'm really happy to leave the series with a victory. It was really hard in the rain but because of our pace in the dry conditions I had a really good gap so we were not really worried about the other guys. We were just trying to stay on the track and not take any risks.'

New Zealand's Jonny Reid, who raced to a solid second place from fourth on the grid, and is starting this afternoon's Feature race from pole, said:

'We had to fight for it a little bit. It was a good battle with Neel and once I got in front I gradually pulled away and started concentrating on Loic, but he was doing a good job in tricky conditions and I didn't want to take any risks and compromise the championship. Pole for the Feature race is a good position to start from but as we've seen before a million times it's tricky. We've got a lot of competition out there and everyone's in the hunt. We can really do a good job but it's going to be interesting to see what the weather does.'

Eighteen-year-old Canada's Robert Wickens, who put in an amazing performance to race from 15th to third, commented on the wet conditions:

'It was a great drive. We were struggling a little bit with the pace in the dry and we were just running in 13th or 14th. I think I had more trust in the car early on in the race and I actually made the majority of my passes when it was at the intermediate stage. A lot of drivers were staying on the dry line and I was one of the first ones to go on the wet line. If it rains in the Feature race we can just hope for the best and try to score some more points.'

Sprint race results

POS

DRIVER

A1 TEAM

 LAPS

 TIME

GAP FIRST

1

Loic DUVAL

FRANCE

14

20:18.536

-

2

Jonny REID

NEW ZEALAND

14

20:27.734

+9.198

3

Robert WICKENS

CANADA

14

20:29.552

+11.016

4

Michael AMMERMÜLLER

GERMANY

14

20:30.465

+11.929

5

Jonathan SUMMERTON

USA

14

20:31.140

+12.604

6

John MARTIN

AUSTRALIA

14

20:32.746

+14.210

7

Adrian ZAUGG

SOUTH AFRICA

14

20:33.059

+14.523

8

Sergio JIMENEZ

BRAZIL

14

20:48.796

+30.260

9

Jeroen BLEEKEMOLEN

NETHERLANDS

14

20:52.007

+33.471

10

Neel JANI

SWITZERLAND

14

20:52.342

+33.806

11

Narain KARTHIKEYAN

INDIA

14

21:03.278

+44.742

12

Joao URBANO

PORTUGAL

14

21:04.667

+46.131

13

Edoardo PISCOPO

ITALY

14

21:04.732

+46.196

14

Congfu CHENG

CHINA

14

21:07.959

+49.423

15

Adam CARROLL

IRELAND

14

21:08.836

+50.300

16

Robbie KERR

GREAT BRITAIN

14

21:15.251

+56.715

17

David GARZA

MEXICO

14

21:21.382

+1:02.846

18

Tomas ENGE

CZECH REPUBLIC

14

21:21.569

+1:03.033

19

Chris ALAJAJIAN

LEBANON

14

21:23.565

+1:05.029

20

Fairuz FAUZY

MALAYSIA

14

21:39.416

+1:20.880

21

Satrio HERMANTO

INDONESIA

14

21:41.178

+1:22.642

22

Adam KHAN

PAKISTAN

1

01:33.270

13 Laps

Fastest lap: A1 Team France's Loic Duval set the fastest lap (1m19.350s) of the Sprint race on lap two.

A1GP Netherlands Tops Durban Friday Practice

South Africa - A1 Team Netherlands set the pace in the second of today's two free practice sessions in South Africa as round seven of the 2007/08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport season got underway around the streets of Durban in hot and humid weather conditions.

Jeroen Bleekemolen recorded the best lap time of the day, a 1m18.738s, around the 3.28 km circuit, just over half a second off Brazil's lap record. Germany's Michael Ammermüller, who was an impressive 1.3 seconds quicker than the rest of the field at the end of the rookie practice session this morning, clocked the second fastest time of the day.

Great Britain's Oliver Jarvis, who hasn't driven an A1GP car since December 2007, and USA's Jonathan Summerton were on good form this afternoon, setting the third and fifth fastest lap times respectively. This was particularly impressive as both nations did not have the benefit of this morning's rookie session. Switzerland's Neel Jani was sandwiched between GBR and USA in fourth.

Home nation South Africa's Adrian Zaugg pleased his local fans by setting the sixth fastest time of the day despite limited track time, closely followed by Australia's John Martin in seventh. Title leaders A1 Team New Zealand and France had a tough time around the streets of Durban, finishing the session 11th and 15th respectively.

Canada's Robert Wickens only managed 10 minutes of track time and completed four laps in this afternoon's session, as the team had to repair damage sustained to the car during this morning's rookie session, when new boy Daniel Morad, the youngest driver to sign-on this season, was behind the wheel.

With concrete walls surrounding the perimeter of the tight and twisty street circuit, some of the teams and drivers ran into trouble with session-stopping incidents. A1 Team Mexico's David Garza had a big accident this morning, hitting the wall as he exited turn six. Garza was unhurt but the car was so badly damaged that the Mexican team had to sit out the second session and spend the afternoon setting up one of A1GP's spare cars for qualifying tomorrow.

The Netherlands' Jeroen Bleekemolen set the fastest time overall today and is feeling happier with the set up of the Dutch car:

'It was a lot of fun to drive. I love street circuits so it's been going really well. I won last year in Monaco with the Porsche Supercup and I won with A1GP in Beijing so I just like racing on these tracks. We have been struggling a lot with the car the last few races and it's going much better on street circuits, as it did in the past with Jos Verstaapen, so I think we have a much better set up for that and it looks like we have a good chance for this weekend. We just need to work on the normal circuit set up.'

South Africa's Adrian Zaugg, who set the sixth fastest lap this afternoon, is feeling quietly confident ahead of his home event in Durban this weekend:

'We had problems with rebalancing the tyres today so we just tried to do one lap at the end which wasn't too bad under the circumstances, so we're looking alright. It's very competitive and A1GP is getting more and more competitive with each season and I think the times will stay pretty close all weekend. I'm pretty confident - we'll see after qualifying on Saturday afternoon but I think we should be in good shape.'

Official Practice Session 1 - Rookie drivers and developing nations only

POS

A1 TEAM

DRIVER

TIME S1

LAP S1

TIME S2

LAP S2

TIME

GAP FIRST

1

GERMANY

Michael AMMERMÜLLER

01:21.162

12

01:19.390

16

01:19.390

 

2

SWITZERLAND

Marcel FASSLER

01:21.006

12

01:20.705

17

01:20.705

1.315

3

AUSTRALIA

John MARTIN

01:21.870

17

01:20.885

13

01:20.885

1.495

4

MALAYSIA

Fairuz FAUZY

01:21.502

15

01:21.144

12

01:21.144

1.754

5

SOUTH AFRICA

Wesleigh ORR

01:22.456

14

01:21.254

13

01:21.254

1.864

6

BRAZIL

Xandi NEGRAO

01:22.026

13

01:21.255

14

01:21.255

1.865

7

PAKISTAN

Adam KHAN

01:22.980

10

01:21.442

5

01:21.442

2.052

8

ITALY

Edoardo PISCOPO

01:22.548

15

01:21.642

15

01:21.642

2.252

9

FRANCE

Nicolas PROST

01:23.047

13

01:21.707

14

01:21.707

2.317

10

LEBANON

Khalil BESCHIR

01:24.009

10

01:21.863

8

01:21.863

2.473

11

NETHERLANDS

Arie LUYENDYK

01:23.376

12

01:22.347

12

01:22.347

2.957

12

MEXICO

David GARZA

01:22.384

13

01:23.239

4

01:22.384

2.994

13

PORTUGAL

Filipe ALBUQUERQUE

01:22.859

6

01:22.550

8

01:22.550

3.16

14

INDONESIA

Satrio HERMANTO

01:23.994

15

01:23.115

15

01:23.115

3.725

15

IRELAND

Niall QUINN

01:23.484

11

01:23.401

8

01:23.401

4.011

16

INDIA

Parthiva SURESHWAREN

01:24.334

6

01:24.101

12

01:24.101

4.711

17

CANADA

Daniel MORAD

01:24.226

5

01:25.039

5

01:24.226

4.836

18

CZECH REPUBLIC

Josef KRAL

01:26.088

9

 

0

01:26.088

6.698

Official Practice session 2 (14.00 - 15.00)

POS

 DRIVER

 A1 TEAM

 LAP

 TIME

 GAP_FIRST

 LAPS

1

Jeroen BLEEKEMOLEN

NETHERLANDS

19

01:18.738

-

23

2

Michael AMMERMÜLLER

GERMANY

11

01:19.051

0.313

17

3

Oliver JARVIS

GREAT BRITAIN

20

01:19.207

0.469

22

4

Neel JANI

SWITZERLAND

20

01:19.303

0.565

23

5

Jonathan SUMMERTON

USA

20

01:19.525

0.787

21

6

Adrian ZAUGG

SOUTH AFRICA

17

01:19.567

0.829

17

7

John MARTIN

AUSTRALIA

5

01:19.579

0.841

16

8

Narain KARTHIKEYAN

INDIA

21

01:19.580

0.842

26

9

Filipe ALBUQUERQUE

PORTUGAL

20

01:19.626

0.888

23

10

Fairuz FAUZY

MALAYSIA

21

01:19.658

0.92

23

11

Jonny REID

NEW ZEALAND

23

01:19.765

1.027

28

12

Bruno JUNQUEIRA

BRAZIL

5

01:20.023

1.285

6

13

Adam KHAN

PAKISTAN

11

01:20.058

1.32

22

14

Congfu CHENG

CHINA

21

01:20.058

1.32

26

15

Jonathan COCHET

FRANCE

21

01:20.271

1.533

23

16

Adam CARROLL

IRELAND

18

01:20.354

1.616

19

17

Robert WICKENS

CANADA

3

01:20.990

2.252

4

18

Edoardo PISCOPO

ITALY

8

01:21.430

2.692

27

19

Satrio HERMANTO

INDONESIA

13

01:22.230

3.492

22

20

Khalil BESCHIR

LEBANON

3

01:22.469

3.731

10

21

Josef KRAL

CZECH REPUBLIC

21

01:22.727

3.989

28

22

David GARZA

MEXICO

0

 

 

0

F1 TESTING AT JEREZ

 Upon completion of the first major test of the year at Jerez, the honours were shared between Ferrari (no surprise) with their new car, Renault (a bit of a surprise) with their old car and Toyota (a big surprise) with their new car. If you include the three days that McLaren ran before everyone else turned up then it was the new MP4/23 that will be the car to beat.

  Ferraris new F2008, which somehow reminds me of some creature out of one of the Star Wars films, began their test in fine form with Raikkonen and Massa posting the two fastest times on the first of the multi team days, Raikkonen being almost a second faster than any other team. On day two they were being just pipped by McLaren & Alonso but by day three were almost a second off Glock’s pace. These times mean absolutely nothing of course as one can never tell what fuel loads cars are carrying in testing but what it does show, is that Ferrari again are there or there-abouts with the new car and Raikkonen was all praise for the F2008. “We improved from last year in the areas that we wanted to improve and it seems to have worked.” If you’ve ever heard one of Kimi’s press conferences, you know that is high, and particularly verbose, praise indeed.  BMW-Sauber were absent while waiting for their new car launch in Germany while Renault had both race drivers on duty in last years car. Piquet had a difficult single day in the car completing just 41 laps and only setting the 9th quickest time out of the fourteen drivers on the track. Alonso, in his first outing since returning to his World Championship winning team, raised everyone’s spirits at Renault setting the fastest time on day two and third fastest time on the final day. It will be interesting to see what the combination of Alonso and the new R28 will be like next week at Valencia.  The consistent pace of the interim Williams FW29B was one of the pleasant surprises of the week with Rosberg regularly being amongst the quick runners. Seventh on day one, fourth on day two should give them some confidence about the upcoming season. Depending of course, on the FW30. Nakajima slowly played himself in over the three days to finish ninth fastest on the final day and 12th overall. Tester Nico Hulkenberg tarnished his image a little while bringing out the red flags on three occasions on his only day in the Williams. He set the second slowest time of day three and was almost 4½ seconds off the pace.  Both Red Bull drivers spent a day in last years car before they both got a run in the new RB4 on the final day. Neither set the world on fire in either and Red Bulls reliability came under question once again when the Renault engine went pop with just eight minutes to go on day three while Coulthard was running.How long can Webber remain upbeat while driving a pin-less hand-grenade? One prays for improvement.  Toyota had three drivers on hand for the debut of the TF108 although test driver Kobayashi only got to play with last years brick. Trulli did nothing special on day one in the new car but new boy Timo Glock raised a few eyebrows with a competent mid 20’s on day two and a stunning fastest time of 1’19.799 on the last day. A sign of things to come, or was it in an underweight car with bugger all fuel and brand new tyres? Time will tell.  The Ferrari engined Red Bull (sorry – Toro Rosso) continued it’s fine late season form with both Vettel and Champ Car refugee Bourdais both finishing in the overall top ten. Vettel just pipped Bourdais but both were usually just a couple of tenths apart as has been the case since Bourdais started testing with the team. This could end up being one of the most interesting inter team battles to watch this year.  Honda were happy to leave all their testing to Super Aguri once again however this time that plan backfired (quite literally) when Rossiter’s car went up in flames after just ten laps on day one. This all became rather farcical when the plane that was bringing out the spares had mechanical difficulties and the parts were put onto a flight to Malaga instead. This in itself may not have been a problem except the motorway from Malaga to Jerez was closed due to roadworks so the parts never arrived. Well not on time anyway.  Both Fisichella and Sutil had a day each in the Jordan (Sorry – Midland, whoops – Spyker, bugger – Force India) with the Italian coming out a second up on the German. However Giancarlo did run on the faster of the two days so that gap was also meaningless. Test driver Liuzzi also had a day in the car but did nothing great and was over three seconds off the pace. The only real ray of hope was that Fisichella got into the mid-field pack with a time in the 1’20s.  Finally, McLaren. (This was done in car number order) Well the new car is definitely on the pace. Overall three of the fastest four times were McLarens, only Alonso preventing a clean sweep. Two of those times were set while McLaren had the track to themselves a few days before everyone else turned up but even when all the teams were there. A McLaren (each of Hamilton, Kovalainen and de la Rosa managed this) was in the top three over the three days of the group test. Including their three days of solo running Hamilton set the pace by three tenths from Kovalainen.   So McLaren, Ferrari, Renault and Toyota all set fastest times. If that continues, we may be in for a very good year.  

BEST TIMES    
       
DRIVER CAR TIME
1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren MP4/23 1'19.132 (2,3)
2 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren MP4/23 1'19.462
3 Fernando Alonso Renault R27 1'19.503 (5)
4 Pedro de la Rosa McLaren MP4/23 1'19.650 (1)
5 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari F2008 1'19.708 (4)
6 Nico Rosberg Williams FW29 1'19.756
7 Felipe Massa Ferrari F2008 1'19.772
8 Timo Glock Toyota TF108 1'19.799 (6)
9 Sebastian Vettel Toro Rosso STR02 1'20.305
10 Sebastien Bourdais Toro Rosso STR02 1'20.346
11 Mark Webber Red Bull RB3 1'20.392
12 Kazuki Nakajima Williams FW29 1'20.526
13 Kamui Kobayashi Toyota TF107 1'20.577
14 Giancarlo Fisichella Spyker F8-VII-B 1'20.764
15 Jarno Trulli Toyota TF108 1'21.314
16 Nelson Piquet Jr Renault R27 1'21.696
17 Adrian Sutil Spyker F8-VII-B 1'21.705
18 David Coulthard Red Bull RB3 1'21.746
19 Vitantonio Liuzzi Spyker F8-VII-B 1'23.035
20 Nico Hulkenberg Williams FW29 1'24.023
21 James Rossiter Honda RA107 1'34.862
(-) Fastest on day.

A1GP Germany Wins as New Zealand Takes Title Lead

New Zealand - 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.

All results remain provisional while the stewards of the circuit continue to carry out investigations. Keep checking www.A1GP.com for further updates and the final results.

Feature race results

POS

DRIVER

A1 TEAM

 LAPS

TIME

GAP FIRST

1

Christian VIETORIS

GERMANY

50

1:10:40.168

-

2

Robert WICKENS

CANADA

50

1:10:41.348

+1.180

3

Loic DUVAL

FRANCE

50

1:10:42.193

+2.025

4

Jonny REID

NEW ZEALAND

50

1:10:43.199

+3.031

5

Adam CARROLL

IRELAND

50

1:10:44.256

+4.088

6

Sergio JIMENEZ

BRAZIL

50

1:10:45.285

+5.117

7

Adrian ZAUGG

SOUTH AFRICA

50

1:10:50.275

+10.107

8

Jonathan SUMMERTON

USA

50

1:10:50.802

+10.634

9

Jeroen BLEEKEMOLEN

NETHERLANDS

50

1:10:51.343

+11.175

10

David GARZA

MEXICO

50

1:10:59.646

+19.478

11

Adam KHAN

PAKISTAN

50

1:11:05.727

+25.559

12

Tomas ENGE

CZECH REPUBLIC

50

1:11:06.674

+26.506

13

Joao URBANO

PORTUGAL

50

1:11:10.016

+29.848

14

Neel JANI

SWITZERLAND

50

1:11:14.619

+34.451

15

Congfu CHENG

CHINA

43

1:01:52.027

7 Laps

16

Alex YOONG

MALAYSIA

38

0:55:37.015

12 Laps

17

John MARTIN

AUSTRALIA

37

1:11:03.435

13 Laps

18

Satrio HERMANTO

INDONESIA

21

0:30:39.755

29 Laps

19

Robbie KERR

GREAT BRITAIN

4

0:06:21.667

46 Laps

20

Edoardo PISCOPO

ITALY

3

0:04:57.448

47 Laps

21

Chris ALAJAJIAN

LEBANON

3

0:04:57.889

47 Laps

22

Narain KARTHIKEYAN

INDIA

1

0:03:20.795

49 Laps

2007/08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport points standings

POS

 NATION

 POINTS

1

New Zealand

82

2

Switzerland

80

3

France

80

4

Germany

65

5

South Africa

59

6

Ireland

50

7

Netherlands

49

8

Great Britain

48

9

India

28

10

China

28

11

Brazil

27

12

Canada

22

13

Mexico

18

14

Czech Republic

10

15

USA

9

16

Portugal

5

17

Italy

4

18

Australia

4

19

Malaysia

2

Fastest lap: A1 Team Switzerland set the fastest lap in the Feature race, lapping Taupo circuit in 1m.14.679s with a speed of 160.1 kph on lap 45 of the 52 lap race.

Next race: A1GP Sydney, Australia, 1-3 February 2008

A1GP New Zealand Storms to Home Race Win

New Zealand - New Zealand made A1GP history today dominating the Taupo Sprint race from lights-to-flag to take its first ever A1GP win at home. It became only the second team to win a home race in the history of the thrilling series. Jonny Reid led from pole to take the chequered flag and score 15 crucial points, moving ahead of France for second in the championship.

Current title leader Switzerland's race was over on the first lap due to a turn one collision, moving the Kiwis to just five points behind the Swiss in the championship battle.

The packed grandstands were on their feet as Reid crossed the line three seconds ahead of defending champion Germany's Christian Vietoris, to secure the first win for New Zealand since taking the double victory in Brno earlier this season. Germany's Vietoris, who picked up a bonus point for clocking the fastest lap of the race on lap nine, started from fourth on the grid but quickly closed in on South Africa and France to take second by lap six.

New Zealand and Germany were joined on the podium by France's Loic Duval, who raced to a strong third place, followed by South Africa's Adrian Zaugg in fourth.

The Netherlands, Ireland and USA finished fifth, sixth and seventh respectively while Portugal recorded its best finish this season when Joao Urbano crossed the line in eighth position. Australia's John Martin and India's Narain Karthikeyan fought hard to take the final two points-paying positions while Pakistan's Adam Khan put in his best performance of the season to secure 11th behind India.

A1 Team Lebanon was on course for its first ever A1GP point when the Czech Republic's Tomas Enge hit Chris Alajajian from behind on the ninth lap, causing him to pit for repairs. The Lebanese team finally finished the race in 15th behind China.

Four cars were involved in a first lap incident, Malaysia, Switzerland, Brazil and Canada tangling into turn one, bringing out the safety car for two laps. Malaysia's Alex Yoong and championship leader Switzerland's Neel Jani were forced out of the action but Canada's Robert Wickens and Brazil's Sergio Jimenez were able to rejoin after pitting for repairs.

All 22 nations are now preparing for the main event of the weekend at Taupo, a thrilling and unpredictable 70-minute Feature race, which starts at 15:00 this afternoon.

New Zealand's Jonny Reid was ecstatic with his first home win and is eager for another in this afternoon's Feature race:

'It's huge, absolutely huge. It's the greatest moment in my motorsport career. It means a lot to me and the pressure's been on all weekend. It's been all go since I got back from the Christmas break and it's really, really satisfying to get one on the board for everyone. The pole position was nice but now we've got the points and that's what matters in the championship. It's great to have all the home support and I'm just stoked to be number one in the Sprint.

'We can definitely move forward in the Feature, it's a long race and we've just got to tune the car a bit more for the conditions and we'll be right there I'm sure. We've got to control the emotions a little bit after this first victory and look for another.'

Germany's Christian Vietoris, who raced to a superb second position, said:

'The main aim was to get on the podium for the Sprint race so I'm really happy. I feel really comfortable and the car now feels fine and I'm looking forward to the Feature race. I'm starting from the first row and with a good start I hope I can do well.'

France's Loic Duval, who finished third in the Sprint race and is on pole for the Feature race, said:

'I think Adrian took a really good start and actually was in front of Jonny. Christian could pass me in the first two corners and then I managed to come back and get on the podium. I had a good chance to overtake the South African car so it wasn't too bad and the car was ok. We are going to start first for the Feature race so I'm still really confident. I have to take a good start and if I am leading from the front then I think we have a really good chance.'

Sprint race results

POS

DRIVER

A1 TEAM

 LAPS

 TIME

GAP FIRST

1

Jonny REID

NEW ZEALAND

14

19:25.408

-

2

Christian VIETORIS

GERMANY

14

19:28.600

+3.192

3

Loic DUVAL

FRANCE

14

19:30.307

+4.899

4

Adrian ZAUGG

SOUTH AFRICA

14

19:33.231

+7.823

5

Jeroen BLEEKEMOLEN

NETHERLANDS

14

19:34.989

+9.581

6

Adam CARROLL

IRELAND

14

19:36.320

+10.912

7

Jonathan SUMMERTON

USA

14

19:36.825

+11.417

8

Joao URBANO

PORTUGAL

14

19:38.723

+13.315

9

John MARTIN

AUSTRALIA

14

19:40.988

+15.580

10

Narain KARTHIKEYAN

INDIA

14

19:48.376

+22.968

11

Adam KHAN

PAKISTAN

14

19:51.181

+25.773

12

Edoardo PISCOPO

ITALY

14

19:51.456

+26.048

13

Sergio JIMENEZ

BRAZIL

14

19:51.949

+26.541

14

Congfu CHENG

CHINA

14

19:52.181

+26.773

15

Chris ALAJAJIAN

LEBANON

14

19:54.891

+29.483

16

Satrio HERMANTO

INDONESIA

14

19:56.515

+31.107

17

David GARZA

MEXICO

14

19:56.757

+31.349

18

Robert WICKENS

CANADA

11

16:15.661

3 Laps

19

Tomas ENGE

CZECH REPUBLIC

10

14:51.686

4 Laps

20

Robbie KERR

GREAT BRITAIN

9

20:32.011

5 Laps

21

Alex YOONG

MALAYSIA

0

 

14 Laps

22

Neel JANI

SWITZERLAND

0

 

14 Laps

Fastest lap: A1 Team Germany's Christian Vietoris set the fastest lap (1m15.740s) of the Sprint race on lap nine.