Switzerland, Ireland and Portugal are battling for the title at Brands Hatch

Switzerland, Ireland and Portugal are battling for the title at Brands Hatch

29.04.2009: The swine flu virus is also affecting the World Cup of Motorsport: the season final, which was scheduled to take place in Mexico City on May 24th, had to be cancelled due to health-political reasons. Therefore, the grand final will

Grand Final in the World Cup of Motorsport

The swine flu virus is also affecting the World Cup of Motorsport: the season final, which was scheduled to take place in Mexico City on May 24th, had to be cancelled due to health-political reasons. Therefore, the grand final will already be taking place at Brands Hatch, south-east of London, this weekend.

Three out of 21 teams still have chances of winning the World Cup. These are defending champions Switzerland plus Ireland and Portugal. The Netherlands only have theoretical chances. Going into the final two races of the season, Switzerland is leading with 88 points from Ireland (86), Portugal (82) and The Netherlands (66). There are still 27 points at stake at Brands Hatch. However, it has to be considered that each team has to drop one score: the worst result of every team from any two-race event will not be considered. Ireland and Portugal are in a slightly better position, because all the points they have scored will be counted in the UK, whereas Switzerland has to drop four points, The Netherlands six. In the current "net-results", Ireland would currently be in the lead with 86 points, followed by Switzerland (84), Portugal (82) and The Netherlands (60).

In the last two years, the A1GP season already ended at Brands Hatch. The venue in Kent County is perfectly suited as an arena for the showdown. Brands Hatch also hosted Formula 1 races from 1964 till 1986. The 3.7 kilometres long track is generally being considered as "tricky" or "challenging". Many drivers have experienced this themselves. Among them are Swiss Neel Jani and Sébastien Buemi. Jani was hit by American Scott Speed on the first lap of the feature race in September 2005, Buemi collided in the sprint race in spring 2007 with Swiss-born South-African Adrian Zaugg.

For Jani, good memories of Brands Hatch clearly prevail. With two successful races, he bagged the title there last year. This Sunday, however, his task is not just to bring a comfortable points' advantage home. "In order to defend the title successfully, we have to exceed ourselves", Jani expects. "The track is not only unusually fast, it is also technically difficult. Here, the experience of every lap counts. From that point of view, I have a slight disadvantage compared to Irishman Adam Carroll."

Max Welti also knows that his team is facing a difficult task: "We have to make up a net disadvantage of two points to Ireland. However, we are feeling well prepared and we are confident", the Swiss team principal said. "Of course, our starting point is far less comfortable than last year. On the other hand, Neel is mentally very strong, so that he can take on anything. He will be highly motivated and focussed. Unfortunately, Brands Hatch isn't particularly suited for overtaking. Therefore, we are already aiming for a top position in qualifying. Hopefully, we will not be affected by changing weather conditions that we have had so often in the UK."

After an action-packed weekend, Neel Jani already arrived in the UK on Monday. On Saturday, he had put on a fantastic show with demonstration runs in a Formula 1 car to celebrate the opening of the western part of the new circular road of the city of Zurich: accelerations of up to 280 km/h, braking in only a few metres and doughnuts with smoke coming off the tyres. Afterwards, Jani got standing ovations from tens of thousands of spectators. Immediately after that, Jani was taken to Zürich airport by helicopter, flew to France to test the Aston Martin at Le Mans and travelled on to England on Monday to have a few days to prepare for the A1GP final.

. Friday. 10.40 - 12.00 (11.40 - 13.00 CET): rookie practice. 14.00 - 15.00 (15.00 - 16.00): practice. -- Saturday. 11.00 - 12.00 (12.00 - 13.00): practice. 14.15 - 15.10 (15.15 - 16.10): qualifying. -- Sunday. 11.00 - 11.25 (12.00 - 12.25): sprint. 15.00 - 16.10 (16.00 - 17.10): feature race.

A1GP WORLD CUP OF MOTORSPORT. Standings after 12 of 14 rounds:
1. Switzerland 88. 2 Ireland 86. 3. Portugal 82. 4. Netherlands 66. 5. France 46. 6. Malaysia 43. 7. New Zealand 36. 8. Australia 30. 9. Monaco 27. 10. Great Britain 24. 11. USA 19. 12. South Africa 19. 13. Brazil 18. 14. Italy 15. 15. India 11. 16. Mexico 8. 17. Lebanon 8. 18. China 7. 19. Korea 4. 20. Indonesia 2. 21. Germany 2.

Schweizer Sportfernsehen SSF (STAR TV channel): Sunday, 20.00 - 22.00 CET. -- AB Moteurs: Saturday, 15.00 and Sunday, 15.00. -- NT1: Sunday, 16.00. -- RaiSportPiù: Sunday 14.45 (live).

- Michael Schneider - photos A1GP

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29.04.2009 / MaP

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