Look back in history Sunday: Black Beauty and A1GP in South Africa (2009)

The 2008–09 A1 Grand Prix season was the fourth and final season of the A1 Grand Prix formula.  The Kiwi team, A1 Team New Zealand, used two drivers’ in that season, Chris van der Drift and Earl Bamber.  They were to finish seventh overall with A1 Team Ireland winning the series.

The season started at the Zandvoort Circuit in Holland on the 5 October and finished at Brands Hatch in the UK in May 2009.  It was a calendar fraught with difficulties with three cancelled races.  This included the Mexican round, cancelled due to an outbreak of swine flu.

Ferrari supplied the engines for all entrants and advised on aspects of the chassis, based on its championship-winning F2004.  It was a gorgeous looking car which Kiwi fans got to see at the Taupo round held in late January 2009.  South Africa hosted the fifth round.  Here’s the A1 Team New Zealand review of the weekend….

 

BLACK BEAUTY ROBBED OF STRONG RESULT

After a promising start to the Feature Race at the Kyalami circuit in South Africa , A1 Team New Zealand was robbed of a strong result after contact from a competitor spun Black Beauty into a gravel trap and out of the race.

“Going into turn 12, he [ Malaysia ] drilled us from behind and that was the end of our race,” commented Earl Bamber.  “Our pace in the Feature wasn’t that great – we’re scratching our heads about that a little.  We had a good race car for the Sprint Race, and we set the sixth quickest laptime. The team did a great job in pitstop!”

Earlier in the day, Earl Bamber drove Black Beauty from twelfth on the grid to eighth in the fourteen lap Sprint Race.

New Zealand made an average start from grid three for the Feature Race, which saw Black Beauty seem to drop back to fifth, but an aggressive late braking move by Bamber brought the eighteen-year-old Kiwi back to third by the entry to the first corner. The chaos on track ensued early, with championship leaders Ireland being nudged off circuit within the first few corners, making them the first nation to retire as a result of contact with Malaysia .

While Monaco led from Pole Position, New Zealand maintained third place despite some heavy pressure for many of the opening couple of laps from Malaysia . With fans at the circuit on the edge of their seat watching the battle, Australia entered the mix, and for a few corners took the pressure off New Zealand as they looked to pass Malaysia .

Then just four laps into the forty lap race, the heart-breaking moment came for New Zealand , with Malaysia crashing into the rear of Black Beauty under brakes, before the duo had even attempted to take the corner. The contact spun the New Zealand car into a gravel trap, beaching it, and loosing any chance of finishing what trackside commentators were labelling a “crazy race”.

The incident was under investigation by race stewards, but Malaysia ’s car in the pit box just a few laps later with what appeared to be suspension damage, most likely as a result of the two early race contacts their car endured.

In the shorter Sprint Race, Bamber put in a strong drive, as he worked his way into the last points-scoring place to finish eighth after starting twelfth. In what was a much more refined race, Bamber had worked his way up to tenth by the end of the opening lap, while The Netherlands opened up a huge lead.

With nine laps to run, New Zealand was one of the earliest to head in for their compulsory pitstop. Slick work by the New Zealand crew lifted Black Beauty a further two places to her eventual eighth place result, banking the only point of the weekend for New Zealand. The race was won by The Netherlands in a very dominant performance.

After taking just one point away from Kyalami , New Zealand stay in sixth place in the championship standings, while Switzerland is the new championship leader after taking victory in the Feature Race.

The A1GP World Cup of Motorsport now takes a break until early April when the championship resumes over Easter weekend, 11-12 April at the new Algarve circuit in Portugal .

 

Feature Race results

1 SWITZERLAND Neel JANI
2 BRAZIL Felipe GUIMARAES
3 MONACO Clivio PICCIONE
4 NETHERLANDS Jeroen BLEEKEMOLEN
5 PORTUGAL Filipe ALBUQUERQUE
6 LEBANON Daniel MORAD
7 GREAT BRITAIN Danny WATTS
8 USA Marco ANDRETTI
9 INDONESIA Zahir ALI
10 ITALY Edoardo PISCOPO
11 GERMANY Michael AMMERMULLER
12 INDIA Narain KARTHIKEYAN
13 AUSTRALIA John MARTIN
14 CHINA Ho Pin TUNG
15 MALAYSIA Fairuz FAUZY
16 SOUTH AFRICA Adrian ZAUGG
17 NEW ZEALAND Earl BAMBER
18 FRANCE Nicolas PROST
19 MEXICO Salvador DURAN
20 IRELAND Adam CARROLL

 

Sprint Race results

1 NETHERLANDS Jeroen BLEEKEMOLEN
2 PORTUGAL Filipe ALBUQUERQUE
3 SWITZERLAND Neel JANI
4 IRELAND Adam CARROLL
5 MONACO Clivio PICCIONE
6 INDIA Narain KARTHIKEYAN
7 SOUTH AFRICA Adrian ZAUGG
8 NEW ZEALAND Earl BAMBER
9 MALAYSIA Fairuz FAUZY
10 FRANCE Nicolas PROST
11 ITALY Edoardo PISCOPO
12 AUSTRALIA John MARTIN
13 CHINA Ho Pin TUNG
14 GERMANY Michael AMMERMULLER
15 BRAZIL Felipe GUIMARAES
16 MEXICO Salvador DURAN
17 USA Marco ANDRETTI
18 INDONESIA Zahir ALI
19 GREAT BRITAIN Danny WATTS
20 LEBANON Daniel MORAD

Benjamin Carrell

Benjamin Carrell is a freelance motorsport writer and currently edits both talkmotorsport.co.nz and nzmotorracing.co.nz. He writes for a number of Kiwi drivers and motorsport clubs. That's when he's not working in his horticultural day-job or training for the next road or mtb cycle race!

http://nzmotorracing.co.nz

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