Switzerland extends championship lead

Switzerland extends championship lead

16.12.2007: Switzerland extends championship lead

Round 4, Zhuhai:

At the fourth round of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport at Zhuhai, A1 Team Switzerland driver Neel Jani took the second step of the podium in the 14 lap-long sprint race finishing just 0.601 behind Germany, bringing the team point tally to 73 points.

In the feature race, Neel started from pole but his hopes of winning came undone with a technical problem on the right rear wheel safety locking mechanism. However, Neel recovered to score five more additional points in the feature race to take his tally for the weekend to 17 points. Switzerland keeps the lead in the championship, (79 points) with a comfortable 19 points lead over second placed France.

Starting the sprint race from second after an exciting qualifying on Saturday, Jani kept his position and pressured Germany all the way finishing over four seconds ahead of France. Neel also clocked the first fastest lap of the race on the way to his fifth podium of the season.

In the feature race, Neel Jani started from pole, had too much wheel-spin and lost one position at the start. He then strategically took the lead of the race after the first pit stop on lap 10. At the second pit stop, Jani who had dominated the race since the first pit stop encountered an uncontrollable problem with the safety locking mechanism that was damaged when the right rear wheel was removed. The unfortunate incident delayed Neel and India's Karthikeyan took the lead of the race.

Neel Jani said: "I started from pole for the feature race, but did not have such a good start with too much wheelspin. After a first corner incident the safety car was out and came back in after four laps. At the restart our positions were unchanged. So, I started putting pressure on Jarvis. My times in the first sector always quicker than his and I was right on his tail. But I knew that the race would be long and that anything could happen.

As the pit stop window opened, we all went in for pit stops. The team's strategy was to wait until lap 11 to go in. That paid off. My stop went very smoothly as the team did a good job and I took the lead of the race from lap 12. I was trying to build my lead over India, France, GBR and South Africa. By mid-race, I was over five seconds ahead and the car was working well.

I thought I could approach the second pit-stop window relaxed on lap 26. But when I brought the car into the pits, there was an unexpected mechanical problem with the safety systems of the right rear tyre. It was a bit of heartbreak for me. I was delayed and Karthikeyan took the lead for India. I was down in eighth but managed to recover a bit.

The good side is that we arrived in Zhuhai with an eight-point advantage in the championship but now the team are leading the championship by 19 points. See you next year and happy new year!"

Max Welti, Team Principal, A1 Team Switzerland commented: "I am very pleased for the team and the country about our results this weekend. Neel was either front-line or pole for the starts. He earned the fastest lap in the sprint race, a podium and points in the same weekend. It keeps the team in a comfortable lead in the championship.

We had great teamwork all throughout the weekend, despite a disappointing technical problem beyond our control in the second pit stop of the main race. It's a real shame, but the positive side is that we substantially increased our advantage in the championship after the Zhuhai race even if Neel had never driven there before. Five podiums out of eight races and top 10 in eight races. What an achievement for the first part of our young team's history and our third season."


The final top ten: 1 India Narain Karthikeyan, 2 New Zealand jonny Reid, 3 South Africa Adrian Zaugg Jimenez , 4 Germany Michael Ammermüller, 5 Great Britain, Oliver Jarvis , 6, Switzerland, Neel Jani, 7 France Loic Duval, 8 CZ Republic Tomas Enge, 9 China Congfu CHENG, 10 USA Jonathan Summerton


Next race: Round 5 - Taupo (NZ) 20 January 2008



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A1 Team Switzerland

A1 Team Switzerland is the Swiss national team in motorsport, representing its country in the unique global A1 GP World Cup of Motorsport. A1 Team Switzerland is entering its third year of racing in the A1 GP series. After 11 events and 22 races around the world, A1 Team Switzerland finished the inaugural A1GP season as runners-up, winning from pole position in Dubai. In 2006-2007 they again won from the pole in Malaysia, on the way to securing another top eight championship finish.

The drivers racing for their country in 2007-2008 will be Neel Jani and Sébastien Buemi. The rookie drivers will be Marcel Fässler, Tom Dillmann and two lady rookie drivers, Rahel Frey and Natacha Gachnang who participated successfully to a shootout event at Silverstone in September 2007. They will have the chance to represent their national team starting with the China Grand Prix, 4th leg of the A1 GP Championship.

Season's podiums:

(1x NED; 1xCZE; 2xMAL; 1xCHN1)

A1 Team Switzerland's selected best results Sprint race:

2 x 1st - Malaysia 2006/2007 (Neel Jani) and Dubai 2005/2006 (Neel Jani)
1 win Malaysia 2007/2008 (Neel Jani)

Feature race:
3 x 2nd 2005/2006 South Africa (Neel Jani),
Malaysia (Neel Jani), Portugal (Neel Jani)
1 win Malaysia 2007/2008 (Neel Jani)

Pole Position:
Malaysia 2005/2006 and 2006/2007 (Neel Jani), Dubai 2005/2006 (Neel Jani)
Malaysia Sprint and Feature race 2007/2008 (Neel Jani)
Zhuhai-China Feature race 2007/2008 (Neel Jani)

U1 Swiss Sport TV
Monday 17.50 "Sport highlights magazine" in the news
Tuesday 19.00 until 21.00 A1GP Magazin (Race Live on Tape)
U1 Swiss Sport TV is available in Switzerland on
"Cablecom Digital Network" and "Bluewin TV" from "Swisscom"


- Agnes Carlier - photos A1GP

Photos are on automobilsport.com under PHOTOS - A1GP SERIES

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/a1-team-switzerland-extends-a1gp-championship-lead-neel-jani-max-welti-photos---31148.html

16.12.2007 / MaP

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