A1 Team Switzerland on top down under

A1 Team Switzerland on top down under

25.01.2009: Victory and second place for Neel Jani in New Zealand Switzerland has scored 26 points in the A1GP races at Taupo (New Zealand) and thus was the most successful team. Neel Jani won the feature race, having previously finished second in the sprint event.

Victory and second place for Neel Jani in New Zealand

Switzerland has scored 26 points in the A1GP races at Taupo (New Zealand) and thus was the most successful team. Neel Jani won the feature race, having previously finished second in the sprint event. In the World Cup of Motorsport, Switzerland moved up from sixth to second. After problems in qualifying, the race results could hardly have been better.

After the disappointment on Saturday with fourth and fifth place on the grid for the respective races, things were all right again for the Swiss team after the 15 lap sprint race. During the pit stops, Neel Jani overtook Dutchman Robert Doornbos and Portuguese Filipe Albuquerque and started his hunt for pole-sitter Adam Carroll from Ireland. On lap 11, the driver from Berne set the fastest race lap. Eventually, he came within 1.4 seconds of victory.

In the 50 lap feature race, Jani had a magnificent start that promoted him from fifth to second place right away. The decision fell during the second pit stop after 23 laps. The Swiss pit crew got Jani out on the track again very quickly, whereas Carroll had problems getting going again after his stop. Jani moved past the Irishman while still in the pit lane and then drove an undisputed victory home.

Contrarily to the move he had made in Mexico last year, Jani's overtaking manoeuvre was correct this time as his opponent had an apparent technical problem. In March 2008, the Swiss had been penalised for overtaking in the pit lane - back then also in a battle with Carroll - a manoeuvre that was considered as "racing in the pit lane", which is forbidden.

Swiss team principal Max Welti praised the efforts made by his team: "Neel and the mechanics have shown a great performance today. We really have achieved the maximum that was possible. I considered it almost impossible to reach top results from relatively poor grid positions at this track. After the best overall results of the season, we are in contention again and we have forgotten our poor performance at Taupo one year ago." Last year, Switzerland had scored only one point at Taupo.

Welti was buoyant about Neel Jani's start into the second race
: "That was one of the best moves I have ever seen", said Max Welti. "The same applies for the nearly impeccable job done by the pit crew. The second stop in the feature race was even quicker than the one in the sprint race, which was already nearly perfect." The new assignment of duties within the pit crew has already paid off.

During a safety-car intervention from lap 38 till 41 of the feature race, the field came together once again and the race was open once more. However, Jani didn't make any mistakes at the challenging track, which was quite dirty off the race line, and rounded off the successful Sunday in style. The Swiss team had luck on its side, too: after the second pit stop, there was smoke coming out of the rear of the car, identifying a loss of water or oil and forcing Jani to play it safely. "We were really worried", said Max Welti. "Probably, it was caused by a leak in the gearbox cooling."

Neel Jani expressed his joy about the result of his efforts at the other side of the world: "I am happy. We really couldn't have hoped for more after qualifying. Normally, you can't do anything when you start from fourth place into the sprint race. However, I hadn't given up my confidence completely for the two races. As I had expected, the car ran much better on used tyres than it had done with new ones. The balance was back and so was the necessary pace. A big hand for the mechanics!"

Taupo (New Zealand). A1GP (World Cup of Motorsport). Sprint (standing start/15 laps of 3.5 km/52.5 km): 1. Ireland (Adam Carroll) 19:40.271. 2. Switzerland (Neel Jani) 1.488 seconds down. 3. Netherlands (Robert Doornbos) 3.559. 4. France (Loïc Duval), 8.594. 5. New Zealand (Chris van der Drift) 11.666. 6. Portugal (Filipe Albuquerque) 12.665. 7. Italy (Edoardo Piscopo) 14.959. 8. Malaysia (Fairuz Fauzy) 15.797. 9. India (Narain Karthikeyan) 20.973. 10. South Africa (Adrian Zaugg) 22.030. 11. USA (Marco Andretti) 30.565. 12. Great Britain (Dan Clarke) 31.005. 13. Indonesia (Satrio Hermanto) 32.361. 14. Brazil (Felipe Guimarães) 33.134. 15. Mexico (Salvador Durán) 40.601. 16. Monaco (Clivio Piccione) 49.281. 17. four laps down: China (Cheng Cong Fu). 18. seven laps down: Lebanon (Daniel Morad). 19. ten laps down: Australia (John Martin). - Fastest lap: Switzerland in 1:15.021 (167.9 km/h).

Feature race (standing start/50 laps/175 km)
: 1. Switzerland 1:06:19.574. 2. Ireland 1.047 seconds down. 3. Portugal 2.379. 4. Australia 10.593. 5. Netherlands 14.402. 6. France 17.423. 7. India 20.215. 8. USA 20.799. 9. Italy 23.156. 10. South Africa 23.347. 11. Malaysia 26.832. 12. one lap down: Brazil. 13. Great Britain. 14. New Zealand. 15. China. 16. seven laps down: Mexico. 17. eight laps down: Indonesia. 18. 17 laps down: Monaco. 19. 49 laps down: Lebanon. - Fastest lap: Portugal in 1:14.898 (168.2 km/h).

1. Ireland 65. 2. Switzerland 52. 3. Portugal 49. 4. France 41. 5. Netherlands 38. 6. New Zealand 35. 7. Malaysia 30. 8. Australia 30. 9. USA 19. 10. Great Britain 16. 11. South Africa 16. 12. Monaco 9. 13. Italy 8. 14. India 5. 15. Brazil 4. 16. Korea 4. 17. China 4. 18. Lebanon 3. 19. Indonesia 0. 20. Mexico 0. -- Next race February 22nd at Kyalami/Gauteng (SA).

- Michael Schneider -  photos A1GP
More photos on automobilsport.com under PHOTOS SLIDESHOW and under PHOTOS Ecards A1GP

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25.01.2009 / MaP

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