Dubai, United Arab Emirates (December 11, 2005) – A pair of top-six points scoring finishes by Sean McIntosh promoted Team Canada back into the top-ten of the A1 Grand Prix of Nations today as Round 6 of ‘The World Cup of Motorsport’ played out at the Dubai Autodrome in the United Arab Emirates.
Sean followed up his fifth place effort in the opening Sprint race with sixth overall at the end of the Feature race on the 5.39km desert track. Team Canada, sitting just outside the top-ten in the A1GP points standings heading into this weekend’s double-header in Dubai now depart back up in tenth with 31 points.
The weekend began with Sean getting to grips with another new track while battling a lingering head cold. Friday’s practice sessions proved frustrating with Team Canada languishing uncharacteristically in the lower half of the timesheets. Saturday’s qualifying runs bought a healthy dose of optimism however as Sean put together two solid laps to place ninth overall on aggregate time.
Taking the rolling start for today’s 15-lap Sprint race Sean was immediately squeezed wide sprinting towards the first turn by the Czech Republic’s Tomas Enge. McIntosh, finger firmly on his PowerBoost button for some extra horsepower, held his ground despite the frantic 24-car dash to the corner and ultimately gained a place to move up to eighth by the end of the first tour.
A lap later and the 20-year-old Canadian picked up another position courtesy of Team Brazil retiring from proceedings. Problems on lap six for Robbie Kerr in the Team Great Britain entry bumped Sean into the top-six for the first time this weekend, his pace in sixth now closely matching that of the race leaders just a handful of seconds ahead.
Team France’s eight-race winning streak came to an abrupt end as a brief off with two laps remaining ensured Team Switzerland’s pole-sitter and race leader, Neel Jani, enjoyed a clear run to the checkered flag and a maiden A1GP victory. McIntosh, a beneficiary of Team France’s misfortune, crossed the finish line fifth overall for Team Canada’s second highest A1GP finish and a welcome fifth place grid slot, their highest of the season, for the hour-long, 30-lap Feature race.
A quick getaway from the Feature’s standing start allowed Sean to steal fourth on the first lap but he soon dropped back to sixth before the only Safety Car period of the race presented itself on lap six due to Team Indonesia’s solo crash. The team’s call to take McIntosh’s mandatory pit-stop at this stage proved crucial as the Canadian entry had suffered rear-wing damage and a puncture thanks to contact from behind by the Czech Republic just prior to the safety car’s deployment.
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Having lost time getting round to pit-lane, swift action from the Team Canada pit crew got Sean back on-track sitting 12th overall as the safety car peeled off at the end of lap eight. Back up into the top-ten running order on the next lap and into a points paying position, Sean then spent the middle sector of the race chasing Team China.
With ten laps remaining Sean had climbed to seventh, sitting in a pack of cars headed by Team USA in fifth and Team China sixth. Lap 26 saw Phil Giebler’s American entry retire leaving Sean to push the Chinese car for a spot in the top-five. Both cars were matched evenly for pace and with no PowerBoost left to gain an advantage from which to attack Sean had to settle for sixth place and another five points at the checkered flag.
Team France bounced back in the Feature to take win number nine of the season, Nicolas Lapierre steering the French to victory over Team Great Britain, Robbie Kerr having led for the majority of the race despite earlier damage to his front-wing.
Looking back on an eventful couple of races Sean commented:
“This hasn’t been our strongest circuit as a package but to come away with a fifth and sixth place finish isn’t a bad result. The Sprint result was good for us in terms of setting us up for the Feature race where I made another good start. We were struggling a bit with pace in the early stages and then I was hit by Tomas Enge as the safety car warnings were coming out. I didn’t know what was wrong with the car initially but it was damage to the rear and a puncture.
“We had a pretty good pit-stop and after that it was really a case of damage limitation. I’m sure we could have finished a bit higher up had the race been longer but it was good to put two points scoring runs together and strengthen our position in the standings. There’s only eight points separating us from Team Portugal in sixth so things are pretty close heading into the next six events.”
The second half of the inaugural A1GP season starts after a month-long break with Indonesia hosting Round 7 of the A1 Grand Prix of Nations, Friday 13th – Sunday 15th January 2006.
Results – A1GP R6, Dubai Autodrome, United Arab Emirates
Team Canada, Sprint Race – Started: 9th / Finished 5th (6 Points) – Race Winner: Team Switzerland
Team Canada, Feature Race – Started: 5th / Finished 6th (5 Points) – Race Winner: Team France
Nations Points Standings after Round 6 – Team Canada, 10th ( 31 Points) – Leader: Team France (104 Points)