Swiss national team entering the finish straight

01.05.2008: Swiss national team entering the finish straight

A1GP World Cup of Motorsport - Finale at Brands Hatch 

Switzerland and New Zealand will be battling for the title in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport in the final two rounds at Brands Hatch this weekend. Given the margin of 29 points, there is not much that can still go wrong for Switzerland.

In England, there are still 32 points at stake, 15 for victory in each of the two races and one point each for the fastest race lap. Accordingly, the only thing Neel Jani needs to do is finishing ahead of Jonny Reid in either the sprint or the feature race. In case New Zealand wins both races and sets the fastest lap time twice, Switzerland only needs four points. To put it differently: when Jani finishes in seventh place in one of the two races, in ninth place in both races or scores one eighth and one tenth place, the triumph is perfect.

In spite of the favourable situation, Max Welti doesn't want to make any foregone conclusions. "Experience learns us that in racing in general and at the difficult track of Brands Hatch in particular, a lot of things can happen", the Swiss team principal says. "In qualifying, our aim is to get a position on the first or second row of the grid, so that we don't have to take too many risks in the race. Even more so bearing in mind that changeable weather with rain every now and then has been forecast."

Neel Jani doesn't have too fond memories of Brands Hatch: in the autumn of 2005, he had to make do with ninth place in the sprint and he retired from the main race following a collision with Scott Speed (USA). Sébastien Buemi, who drove the Swiss car one year ago, wasn't very fortunate either: he collided with South-African, Adrian Zaugg in the sprint race and finished 12th in the feature race.

Like in Shanghai most recently and at Zhuhai in December, Alexandre Imperatori will be taking up rookie duties for the Swiss team. He will be faced with the usual task of running-in the brakes and this time also a new gearbox. At Shanghai, Neel Jani was in trouble in the main race after his second gear had broken and its bits and pieces had also affected third and fifth gear.

Once again, a huge crowd is expected at Brands Hatch. In September 2005, no less than 72,000 spectators trekked to the 4.22 kilometres long circuit in Kent to attend the inaugural meeting of the A1GP series. At the end of April 2007, the season finale attracted an impressive 75,000 spectators.

They were treated to spectacular racing action at the challenging circuit south-east of London, which produced Brazilian Nelson Piquet, who has made it all the way into Formula 1 in the mean time, as a double race winner in 2005. Last year, Briton Robbie Kerr (sprint) and German Nico Hülkenberg (feature race) took the spoils.

Programme. Friday. 11.00 - 12.00 (12.00 - 13.00 CET): Rookie-training. 14.00 - 15.00 (15.00 - 16.00): training. -- Saturday. 11.00 - 12.00 (12.00 - 13.00): training. 14.15 - 15.30 (15.15 - 16.30): qualifying. -- Sunday. 11.00 - 11.20 (12.00 - 12.20): sprint (flying start). 14.30 - 15.40 (15.30 - 16.40): feature race (standing start).

A1GP World Cup of Motorsport. Standings after 18 of 20 rounds: 1. Switzerland 150. 2. New Zealand 121. 3. France 111. 4. Great Britain 99. 5. South Africa 92. 6. Germany 83. 7. Ireland 83. 8. Netherlands 80. 9. Canada 75. 10. Portugal 50. 11. China 46. 12. USA 44. -- 22 nations.

Internet voting. Via the internet (at www.a1gp.com under the A1 TEAM VOTE section) the A1GP fans can vote for the most popular team of the season. Next to the title, the Swiss national team also wants to win this "sympathy ranking" and asks its friends to take part in the voting. Votes can be submitted until Sunday evening.

TV broadcasting.

Schweizer Sportfernsehen SSF (on the STAR TV channel): Sunday, 15.30 CET live.

Premiere: Sunday, 19.45; replays on Monday, 11.30 and 20.45.

Sky Sport Italia: Sunday, 15.00 live.

Eurosport France: Monday, 00.01.

 

-Michael Schneider-

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/a1-team-switzerland-brands-hatch-finale-new-zealand-battle-max-welti----36767.html

01.05.2008 / MaP

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