The first New Year action for A1GP World Cup of Motorsport was at the highly acclaimed Portimao Circuit in the Algarve last weekend. The series test team was in action with Italian F3 Champion, Mirko Bortolotti, at the wheel of the Powered by Ferrari car for the very first time.
The circuit received rave reviews after several Formula One teams tested there at the end of 2008 and Bortolotti certainly agreed with them when he said: The track is fantastic but very tricky. We were here to test several new compounds and we have made a very good progress. I am sure that the work that we have done will help the development of the car a lot.
Commenting on his first taste of the new A1GP car, he continued: It was the first time I had tested an A1GP car and I loved it. It is absolutely great. We did a lot of laps, despite the rain in the morning and I hope I can get another chance to test the car.
Bortolotti joined regular A1GP test driver, Andrea Bertolini, at the three day test.
Current championship leader, A1 Team Ireland, enjoyed plenty of media attention back home over the Christmas period and its drivers Adam Carroll and Niall Quinn took part in the BP Ultimate Celebrity Karting Challenge at Autosport International at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, Great Britain last Friday (9 January). The annual Autosport International is the largest motorsport exhibition in the world, catering for motorsport and automotive industry professionals and motorsport fans.
Great Britains Danny Watts and James Winslow, and Italys Edoardo Piscopo were also in the A1GP team. While eight times Le Mans winner, Tom Kristensen, was also competing to help raise money for the Richard Burns Foundation. The A1GP drivers, along with two members of the public, put up a good show despite stiff competition to finish eighth out of the 16 teams.
Plans are also progressing for A1GPs return to Indonesia next month, for its third race in the country. A1 Team Indonesia fans had the chance to enjoy a day out at the Pejaten Village Mall last weekend to meet the teams drivers, Satrio Hermanto and Zahir Ali, for autographs and photos. Ahead of the countrys first ever street race, fans will have two further opportunities on the 17 January in Gajah Mada Plaza and again on the 31 January in Supermall Karawaci to meet the team and win tickets to the race.
As part of the A1GP Lippo Village pre-race activities, the organisers have also scheduled many other events including the A1GP car on public display in several malls and places of interests in and around Jakarta. A Race Queen Competition will be held to select the Grid Girls for the event.
The start of the New Year brought in some resolutions from a number of A1GP Teams and drivers.
A1 Teams Australia and Brazil have set their sights on a podium by the end of the year, while A1 Team GBRs resolution is to get that elusive double-win on home soil at Brands Hatch, having won the Sprint race and come a close second in the Feature race in the previous two A1GP seasons.
A1 Team Lebanons Daniel Morad had his own personal resolution: I have already been waking up at 8am every day training for Taupo, which leads into the second part of my life that I am changing. I have realised that the level of fitness required in A1GP is so high that I am training for four hours a day now.
A1 Team Malaysia has vowed to make quicker pit stops, with the team using every opportunity since the Sepang race to practice changing wheels. The team hopes to reap the rewards of its hard work this year. However, one of the team has had things other than pit stops on his mind, as mechanic Shanker Ramachandran took advantage of the end of year break in the calendar to tie the knot with his fiance Sukanthi Ramachandran, celebrating his wedding with a traditional marriage ceremony and a colourful reception for his friends and family.
A1 Team Monaco resolves to be the best ambassador for its nation, defending the red and white home colours around the world. A1 Team South Africas resolution for 2009 is to help make the South African round at Kyalami a great success on the track, in the grandstands and in the media, while A1 Team USAs goal is to get its first series win with Marco Andretti behind the wheel.
Current leaders A1 Team Ireland want to make sure everyone knows the Irish national anthem by the end of the season.
The A1GP teams are now making final preparations before heading to New Zealand next week, when round four of the 2008/09 season will take place at Taupo Motorsport Park.