Only 24 hours after taking delivery of its new car and running it for the first time in deplorable weather conditions, A1 Team France won the Feature race on the Zandvoort circuit in the first round of the 2008-09 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport Championship. In the morning the car came third in a very hard-fought Sprint race.
Loïc Duval started from 11th place on the grid in the Sprint Race. The conditions were simply dreadful: driving rain and gusts of wind so the event began behind the safety car. The Frenchman, who was racing the car for the first time, set the track on fire as he fought his way up through the field. He crossed the line in 3rd place when race control decided to stop the race 4 laps before the end.
The weekend’s regulations stated that the starting order for the Feature race would be decided by the positions in the first one. This gave Loïc 3rd spot for the afternoon’s event. It was still raining as hard as ever and the race again started behind the safety car. The A1 Team France driver quickly shot past New Zealand and closed the gap to Malaysia. The French squad made a superb pit stop in the first window and Loïc rejoined in front. He opened up a gap and was able to come in for his second stop without losing his lead. He won the race enabling A1 Team France to get the season off to the best possible start.
This evening France shares the championship lead with Malaysia.
The next round will be held on the Chengdu circuit in China on 7th-9th November 2008. A1 Team France will use the event to showcase its completely new livery for the 2008-09 season.
Olivier Panis, sporting director : «Is there a better way to finish the weekend ? There are days like that when everything goes your way. On Saturday morning we hadn’t even run the car for the first time and this evening we’ve already scored our first victory. Loïc was incredible in such tricky track conditions. As for the mechanics, they did an amazing job, yet again. After putting the car together in record time, their speed during the first stop helped us to take the lead. Bravo to everybody! We’ve kicked off our season in the best possible fashiony.”
Loïc Duval, driver : «Circuit conditions were really very difficult today. The track was soaking and the wind upset the car’s balance. You could start aquaplaning at any moment. Luckily, I soon felt completely at home in the new car that I’m still getting to grips with. By hanging on to third place in the first race I knew we could go for victory in the second. It all worked out as we’d expected, but I have to admit that the last laps seemed very long! Again, I’d like to thank the team for all their hard work, which helped us to score this victory. I hope it’ll be the first of many this season.”