A1 GP SERIES - A1 GP New Zealand Team rues missed opportunity

A1 GP SERIES - A1 GP New Zealand Team rues missed opportunity

13.03.2006: A1 GP SERIES - A1 GP New Zealand Team rues missed opportunity



The New Zealand A1 Grand Prix team is wondering what might have been after a controversial ruling went against them in Round 10 of the World Cup of Motorsport at Laguna Seca in California.

New Zealand driver Matt Halliday had a scorching start in the opening Sprint Race to lead the field in atrocious wet conditions. But when the Italian car spun, bringing out the yellow flags, Halliday slowed and was passed by Mexico.

The New Zealanders' immediate appeal that the Mexican car had passed them while under a yellow flag was not upheld and Mexico went on to win both the Sprint Race and the Feature Race, reveling in the clean air.

Black Beauty, meanwhile, was swamped from behind and a spin towards the end of both races cost the team places and valuable points.

A1 Team.NZL team manager Mike Ewan said the team was incredulous at the yellow flag decision and is adamant Halliday should have been back at the head of the field when the Sprint Race re-started.

"The local officials were the only ones in pit lane who didn't see what happened and said, in their opinion, there wasn't enough evidence to uphold our appeal," Ewan said.

"We're still shaking our heads at the decision and obviously very unhappy. There's no telling what might have happened if Matt had taken his rightful place back at the front, but the clear track and lack of spray in the rain would have been of huge benefit and the fact Mexico went on to win both races has left us feeling deflated and frustrated."

Halliday said he saw three yellow flags and took his foot off the pedal, slowing appreciably before Mexico whipped past him.

"I can't believe what has happened, but that's life," Halliday said. "We were really quick in practice and the morning's warm-up and I was ecstatic with the starts to both races. There's just that feeling of emptiness that we were wrongly deprived of a significant advantage."

Black Beauty's 8th in the Sprint Race and 12th place in the Feature Race saw the Kiwis score just 3 points from the meeting, but maintain 6 th place in the championship.

France clinched the inaugural A1GP title with a second place in the Sprint Race and an additional point for posting the fastest lap and Great Britain all but cemented 3 rd behind Switzerland with an impressive 15-point haul over the weekend.

New Zealand (now on 67 points) has made up ground on 4th placed Brazil (70 points) and the 5 th placed Netherlands (69 points), neither of whom scored any points today, but Portugal (66) and Ireland (61) have closed the gap appreciably on the Kiwis.

A1 Team.NZL chief executive Bob McMurray says the team's focus has changed ahead of the final round in China early next month.

"Third isn't realistic any more, but we'd like to maintain our place in the Top Six and see if we can reel in Brazil and the Netherlands. We've already surpassed our own pre-Series expectations, but now that we're in this position it would be nice to finish the season on a high.

"As always, the goal is to win races and we'll be striving for a podium finish to bookend the Series after being on the podium in the first ever A1GP race."

 

FEATURE RACE RESULTS

1 Mexico Salvador Duran 1.00.52.974
2 Germany Timo Scheider 1.00.55.016 +2.042
3 Great Britain Robbier Kerr 1.00.56.091 +3.117
4 Portugal Alvaro Parente 1.01.03.394 +10.420
5 Canada Patrick Carpentier 1.01.07.157 +14.183
6 Ireland Ralph Firman 1.01.13.779 +20.805
7 Italy Mac Papis 1.01.16.173 +23.199
8 Australia Ryan Briscoe 1.01.17.210 +24.236
9 Austria Mathias Lauda 1.01.22.203 +29.229
10 Malaysia Alex Yoong 1.01.23.046 +30.072
11 Pakistan Adam Khan 1.01.24.365 +31.391
12 New Zealand Matt Halliday 1.01.24.951 +31.977
13 Switzerland Giorgio Mondini 38 laps 2 laps
14 France Nicolas Lapierre 37 laps 3 laps
15 USA Bryan Herta 37 laps 3 laps
16 Czech Republic Tomas Enge 34 laps 6 laps
17 China Tengyi Jiang 33 laps 7 laps
18 Brazil Christian Fittipaldi 29 laps 11 laps
9 Indonesia Ananda Mikola 28 laps 12 laps
20 Lebanon Graham Rahal 27 laps 13 laps
21 Netherlands Jos Verstappen 17 laps 23 laps
22 South Africa Stephen Simpson 3 laps 37 laps

Series Points to date – A1 Grand Prix of Nations, California, USA

1 France 163
2 Switzerland 121
3 Great Britain 88
4 Brazil 70
5 Netherlands 69
6 New Zealand 67
7 Portugal 66
8 Ireland 61
9 Canada 55
10 Malaysia 54
11 Mexico 48
12 Italy 44
13 Australia 41
14 Czech Republic 41
15 Germany 38
16 USA 22
17 South Africa 20
18 Austria 14
19 Indonesia 10
20 Japan 8
21 China 6
22 Pakistan 4

The final round of A1 Grand Prix, the World Cup of Motorsport will be held at the Shanghai International Circuit, China on 31 March – 2 April 2006.

- A1 Team.NZL chief executive Bob McMurray.-
photos are copyright and trademark A1 GP Series

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13.03.2006 / MaP

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