Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Round 7 – A1 Grand Prix of Nations, Durban, South Africa

Courtesy A1 Team Canada

Qualified: 9th / Sprint Race Finish: 12th / Feature Race Finish: 10th / Series standing: 10th (32pts)

A1 Team Canada salvaged a point with tenth place from this afternoon’s Feature race as President Thabo Mbeki joined 22,000 fellow South African’s to witness a lively afternoon of A1 Grand Prix action on the streets of Durban in Round 7 of the ‘World Cup of Motorsport’. Canadian racer Sean McIntosh missed out on back-to-back top-ten finishes for A1 Team Canada as a puncture in the earlier Sprint race left the Feature as the sole opportunity for points. A1 Team Canada remains tenth in the A1GP Nations Standings with 32 points.

Sprint Race (Winner – A1 Team France)

Having qualified ninth on the grid for the 20-lap Sprint race Sean held station for the majority of what was a fairly processional opener on the 3.2km temporary street circuit. Wrestling an ill-handling car since the second lap, the cause of which was later determined to be a slow puncture, McIntosh fought valiantly to keep ahead of Germany directly behind in tenth. Despite briefly dropping out of the top-ten in the latter stages Sean successfully climbed back to sit tenth overall with one lap remaining until the puncture blew his front right tire, demoting him to 12th at the checkered flag and out of the points.

Feature Race (Winner – A1 Team Netherlands)

A1 Team Canada’s decision to take their mandatory pit stop on just the second tour of the 40-lap Feature race looked set to pay dividends for Sean McIntosh as he ran third on track behind Switzerland and Germany of the team’s already pitted. The 20-year-old’s hopes of a second career A1GP podium finish were dashed early on lap nine however as contact with Portugal at Turn1resulted in a second trip to the pits, this time for a new nose cone. Back on track Sean set to work climbing up the order, looking to recover something from what had so far been a luckless weekend. Pushing hard, racing wheel to wheel with his A1 rivals, Sean guided A1 Team Canada’s entry as high as eighth before a broken steering column relegated him to a tenth place classified finish and a solitary point for his efforts.

Sean McIntosh:

“An unfortunate series of events really cost us here today because all things considered I think we had a good package. The car had pace and the team worked really well. We had an awesome strategy for the Feature race and it could have paid off if the Portuguese car hadn’t surprised me at the first turn and taken out my front wing. At least we came away with a point! I was sidelined out at Turn4 for the last couple of laps in the Feature but we had done enough to claim tenth. Hopefully we can piece everything together next time out in Indonesia and improve our standing.”

Indonesia hosts Round 8 of the A1 Grand Prix of Nations at the Sentul Circuit, 10-12 February 2006.

Standings: 1st France (120), 2nd Switzerland (92), 3rd Brazil (63), 4th Great Britain (58), 5th New Zealand (54), 10th Canada (32)

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