A meagre haul for A1 Team France

The Taupo circuit in New Zealand hosted the fourth round of the 2008-09 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport this weekend. A1 Team France’s driver Loïc Duval added another 10 points to his team’s tally in the Sprint and Feature events.

Duval was fifth on the grid for the Sprint race and managed to move up a place thanks to an impeccable refuelling stop by the team. He finished fourth after a trouble-free drive.

The Feature event was rather more frustrating. He got up to 5th place after starting from seventh and quickly closed the gap to Team Australia. At that moment he came upon a back-marker who had just rejoined after serving a penalty. Despite being a lap down, the latter ignored the blue flags for more than 10 laps and refused to allow the French driver past. It was the end of Loïc’s fourth place hopes. But it was not over for the Frenchman. When he finally managed to get past he had to go off-line to avoid a spinning car. Another driver took advantage of this to nip past and Duval finally finished sixth.

This evening A1 Team France has 41 points. The team has fallen back a place in the overall classification and is now fourth 24 points behind Team Ireland. In 8 starts, it has scored 1 victory, 3 rostrums and 6 top-10 finishes.

The next round is in South Africa.

Olivier Panis, sporting director: “Bravo to the whole team who did their very best to overcome the mechanical glitches we had this weekend. And also to Loïc who drove his heart out as always. With a little bit more fairplay on the part of some drivers we could have scored a few more points, but it wouldn’t really have made an enormous difference. At least the New Zealand round has helped us to get to know the new car better. Now we’re concentrating on South Africa, and we hope we’ll have an easier weekend there technically speaking.”

Loïc Duval, driver: “What a frustrating weekend! The brake problems we ran into on Friday didn’t allow us to prepare for the races as we’d have liked, and we carried this handicap into qualifying. Our starting positions were not in keeping with our expectations and we knew it’d be difficult to shine. The first race went off okay, but I have to admit I was pretty disappointed by the behaviour of some of my rivals in the second. But the results are there and there’s nothing we can do about them. During this type of weekend you have to know how to keep your head down, take what comes and bounce back at the next round!”