Race Review: A1GP Kyalami

A1GP World Cup
A1GP Gauteng

Kyalami, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Held: 22 Feb 09
Watched: 6 Dec 09
Coverage: Sky Sports 2
Commentary: Ben Edwards and John Watson
Pits: Diana Binks and James Hinchcliffe (@Hinchtown)

This is the first visit of A1GP to Kyalami, replacing the crashfest that was the Durban street race of previous years – it was a great location on the coast but a poor layout.

Sky have Georgie Thompson, Tony Jardine (racing pundit and insider) and Olly Jarvis (former driver for A1 GBR, now in DTM) in the studio in London.

Points coming into this event:
Ireland 65, Switzerland 52, Portugal 49, France 41, Netherlands 38, NZ 35, Malaysia 31, Australia 30, South Africa 17, Britain 16

Germany have been absent for the season to date and they finally join in this weekend. Sky show a recap of their last involvement the previous year where Ammermueller picked up a reputation for crashing into people – oh dear!

*Sprint Race

Grid (top ten):

Bleekemolen (Netherlands) Albuquerque (Portugal)
Jani (Switzerland) Piccione (Monaco)
Karthikeyan (India) Carroll (Ireland)
Prost (France) Zaugg (South Africa)
Fauzy (Malaysia) Piscopo (Italy)

Bleekemolen took pole for the Dutch team. Interesting to see India are up there, Karthikeyan can be a good driver on his day.

Diana is with Alan Jones, seatholder for A1Team Australia. Alan tells us about the black armband he is wearing for the people who lost their lives in the Australian bushfires, and the car is also bearing the logo of a ribbon.

Hinch has Bleekemolen on the grid:
“Our last pole was at Zandvoort and we didn’t win it, so we have to win it now.” He’s talking about low grip so the cars are getting sideways.

14 lap race, standing start.. didn’t they used to have rolling starts for this one?

Jani takes 2nd immediately, Bleekemolen has a big lead straight away. Karthikeyan is up to 4th at the expense of Piccione.

13 to go – Piccione repasses Karthikeyan, great pass!
Carroll also passes the India car using PowerBoost.
12 – Netherlands are running 2sec per lap faster than the field. Ho-Pin Tung makes a move on Bamber, he dives inside but runs too wide and the NZ car repasses him.
10 – China now makes a mistake, Germany gets alongside but has to back off. Lebanon are in the garage with a problem of some kind. Ben says the pit window is now open.
9 – Bleekemolen and Jani pit from 1st and 2nd, many cars further down follow them in. Jani is held up by the Malaysian car which is blocking his exit, parked at an angle. Commentary talking about a narrow pitlane but it is wide, the problem is there isn’t enough length between pit stalls and these cars have a very wide turning circle.
8 – Portugal in, Ireland in, Monaco stays out. Netherlands retakes the lead among those who have stopped.
7 – Piccione pits the Monaco car. Germany made up places through the stops.
6 – Order after stops: Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland, Monaco, Ireland, India, South Africa, New Zealand
5 – GB in the gravel at turn one, after fighting with Brazil. Replay: Contact! The two collide and Watts runs off course. Yellows at turn one.
3 – Bleekemolen has a 4.3sec lead now although Portugal just set Fastest Lap. There’s not much actual racing anywhere in the field.
1 – All sorts of different onboard and offboard TV shots are being used to fill the time while nothing is happening on track..

Jeroen Bleekemolen wins the sprint race for Netherlands. Somehow Ireland took 4th ahead of Monaco? Not shown on TV.

RESULT (top ten)

Here is the result of this race, keep reading for the Feature race.

Driver Team Gap Pts
1 Bleekemolen Netherlands 14 laps 10
2 Albuquerque Portugal 4.407s 8
3 Jani Switzerland 10.600s 6
4 Carroll Ireland 12.925s 5
5 Piccione Monaco 14.363s 4
6 Karthikeyan India 18.474s 3
7 Zaugg South Africa 21.178s 2
8 Bamber New Zealand 26.539s 1
9 Fauzy Malaysia 26.925s
10 Prost France 28.101s
FL Albuquerque Portugal 01:29.072 1

I’ll recap the points after the main race.

*Feature Race

Nicolas Prost (son of Alain) starts 11th and is with Diana: “The atmosphere is fantastic, beautiful event. 11th is disappointing but a lot of people are in my situation after the red flag. It will be a long, hot race, very physical. Anything can happen.”

John Martin of Australia start 4th and is with Hinch: “Sprint race quali didn’t go our way but Q3 went okay, and we have a fast car so let’s hope it goes our way.”

Grid (top ten):

Piccione (Monaco) Fauzy (Malaysia)
Bamber (New Zealand) Martin (Australia)
Jani (Switzerland) Carroll (Ireland)
Albuquerque (Portugal) Guimaraes (Brazil)
Bleekemolen (Netherlands) Watts (GBR)

Monaco on pole! Qualifying was red-flagged so a fairly jumbled order.

South African national anthem

A1GP command from the premier of the Gauteng region: ‘Gentlemen, for the pride of your nations, start your engines’

40 lap race, standing start..


Monaco away well, terrible for Portugal who drop back to last.
Andretti going outside of Prost! It sticks, good move.
Adam Carroll spins! He tried to pass Malaysia and he’s thrown it into the gravel – he’s out of the race.
Netherlands and USA are making rapid progress up the order. NZ and Malaysia battling. Brazil v Australia.

39 to go – Australia passes Brazil over the line for 5th.
38 – Malaysia really pushing NZ hard over the last couple of laps. Fauzy and Bamber. Australia has now caught both.
Start replay: Australia was pushed partially on to the grass and lost several positions.

37 – Malaysia punts New Zealand off the track! Fauzy braked too late and now Bamber is out of the race. Someone else has gone off.. could be France. Fauzy continues having lost a couple of places.
Just in the replay you could briefly see Mexico push France and Duran went off track, Prost pitted.

35 – Malaysia pits with probably damage. The official pit window isn’t open yet. China is off course and Malaysia rejoins, but will still have to take 2 stops later. Replay of India running off course too.

Proper replay of France/Mexico: Prost was tipped into a spin and stopped on track to rejoin, Mexico kept running but only into the gravel.

Diana with Adam Carroll: “Got a good start, Malaysia were slow on the back straight so I used push-to-pass and I knew I was ahead, I even gave him some room and he hit me in the back corner. I’m pretty angry to tell you the truth.”

33 – Great battle between GB, Netherlands, USA and Germany, as Fauzy spins off to cheers from the crowd! Caught his rear wheel on the dust and 360s.

32 – The first pit window is open.
Order: Monaco, Swiss, Australia, Brazil, GB, Ned, USA, Ger, SA, Por, Leb, Indonesia, China, etc.

31 – Monaco pits. Very slow stop, 15.9 seconds! Australia stalls leaving the pits, Germany is in their way, now Australia has an exhaust fire! They are trying to push-start it.. it isn’t going anywhere.

30 – Jani is in. Watson tips Portugal as one to watch as he’s running fastest of all. Swiss pitstop was about 10 seconds. Portugal’s stop is about 11 seconds.

Andretti now running faster than before, Ben suggests he may have been caught behind the GB/Ned fight.

29 – South Africa pits, USA stay out. Quick 9sec stop for RSA and he is out alongside Portugal, but they have momentum and take the place.
Jani is right up behind Andretti, despite Jani having pitted. Marco stays out for another lap.

28 – Jani uses powerboost to pass Andretti on the front straight. Lebanon is running close to Andretti, haven’t pitted either.

27 – Lebanon pits but USA does not. A couple of laps of the pit window remain. Diana is in the Malaysia pit where the car is in the garage, ‘Fauzy reported a puncture – there was no puncture and he went back out and came in again, something is broken on the back of the car’.
Heheh, you could hear an echo as Diana’s voice was also on the circuit tannoy for the spectators, and as she said there was no puncture Fairuz looked rather sheepish…

26 – Andretti pits, 11 second stop, he’s out ahead of a train of cars but Zaugg gets him and so does Ammermueller as he gets up to speed.

Morad (Lebanon) passes Andretti, now Indonesia takes him. What’s Marco doing out there? Bad tyres perhaps, or struggling to get heat and grip into them.

25 – Order after the first stops:
Switzerland, Monaco, Brazil, Netherlands, Britain, Portugal, South Africa, Germany, Lebanon, Indonesia, USA, China, Italy, India, Australia

Where did Brazil come from?? Zaugg slows and pulls to the side of the track, problem..
Radio: he says he has a problem downshifting.
He’s made it to the pits.

23 – Lebanon passes Germany! Morad is on form today, I’m very impressed with him.

22 – Brazil is in 3rd and running 1sec/lap faster than Monaco in 2nd. Andretti has lost a position to China. His grandfather won at this track in its original configuration when it was an F1 circuit. Watson says “this is not what I’d expect of an Andretti”. Perhaps he hasn’t been watching IndyCar..

19 – Brazil has now caught Monaco. Replay of Ammermueller running wide into the gravel, and his tyres are caked in dust and dirt.

18 – China now running very slowly just as South Africa’s was.

17 – The second pit window is now open. Monaco runs wide at turn four and Brazil passes him! Slip-up from Piccione, he was low on grip and the pit window opened a little too late for him. Thumbs-up from Emerson Fittipaldi on the pit wall.

16 – Brazil, GB and Netherlands pit. Very slow stop for Britain.

15 – Switzerland pits from the lead. Good stop, he’s out in clear air. China seems to have fixed their issue as they leave the pits and get up to speed. Many others stopping.

14 – Monaco pits from what should be a temporary lead. Second stop better than the first stop. Danny Watts sets fastest lap of 1m30 or so. Now Marco Andretti goes quicker, he’s finally found some pace, I’m not sure if he’s pitted again. Spin for China at the chicane.

13 – Ho-Pin Tung has brought his car into the garage to retire. Lebanon are pitting late and he’s running at a good pace.

12 – Lebanon pits now. Malaysia rejoins after a long time in the pits, many laps down.

Hinch is with Earl Bamber of NZ: “We came down into turn 12 and he just hit us up the arse and that was it, we were in the gravel trap.”

11 – Order after the second stops:
Switzerland, Brazil, Monaco, Netherlands, Portugal, Britain, Lebanon, USA, Indonesia, Italy, India, Germany, Australia, China (7 laps), South Africa (14 laps), Malaysia (19 laps)
Malaysia are back out and could be trying to get the point for fastest lap.

7 – Italy and India having a fight.. Karthikeyan slides the car, runs wide and now has Ammermueller on his tail.

6 – John says Malaysia just set the fastest first sector of the last lap. Australia currently holds the fastest lap. Fauzy now takes it, 1:28.306.

4 – India has caught Italy again and he does the same, slides, runs wide!

2 – Replay: Lebanon passes Britain on the front straight.

Last lap

Neel Jani wins for Switzerland!

Ammermueller passed Karthikeyan on the last lap for 11th. That was a really entertaining race, I enjoyed that.

Emmerson Fittipaldi on Felipe Guimaraes: “Very proud, for the last ten laps we had a fuel pressure problem and were losing 1 second per lap, very proud. He’s a talent, he’s going a long way.”
Ben says Guimaraes is only 17! I have to admit I’ve never heard of him before.

RESULT (top ten)

Driver Team Gap Pts
1 Jani Switzerland 40 laps 15
2 Guimaraes Brazil 13.176s 12
3 Piccione Monaco 14.193s 10
4 Bleekemolen Netherlands 17.024s 8
5 Albuquerque Portugal 17.995s 6
6 Morad Lebanon 31.210s 5
7 Watts Britain 34.328s 4
8 Andretti United States 59.000s 3
9 Ali Indonesia 63.995s 2
10 Piscopo Italy 64.856s 1
FL Fauzy Malaysia 01:28.306 1

Another win for Jani, well done to the Swiss team. Impressive performances from Guimaraes and Morad, and Piccione scored the first podium for Monaco!

POINTS (top ten)

A1.Team Prior Sprint Feature Closing
1 Switzerland 52 6 15 73
2 Ireland 65 5 70
3 Portugal 49 8 6 64
4 Netherlands 38 10 8 56
5 France 41 41
6 New Zealand 35 1 36
7 Malaysia 31 1 32
8 Australia 30 30
9 Monaco 9 4 10 23
10 Britain 16 4 20

Good points hauls for Switzerland, Netherlands, Portugal and Monaco.
Terrible weekend for France, NZ, Malaysia and Australia who all lose ground.
Monaco’s scoring was good enough to bring them into the top ten.


I really enjoyed the feature race, lots of action all the way through and cars could pass even on this difficult circuit. The battle for the lead wasn’t much, with the action in the rest of the field it didn’t need to be. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the sprint race, which has long been a problem of A1GP racing.

Olly Jarvis seems to be becoming a clone of Tony Jardine with his sayings and mannerisms, the same way of finishing the sentences with a slightly higher intonation.. should we be worried?

It is quite bittersweet to be watching these races after the fact with the knowledge we have now of all A1GP’s financial problems. It was bad in the ’08/’09 series, it is much worse this time – the cars haven’t even turned a wheel. Such a shame.

The next event was a mammoth seven weeks after this one, at the new Portimao circuit on the Algarve in Portugal. I plan to do reviews of that race and the Brands Hatch finale although I appreciate this is probably for my own benefit rather than anyone else’s.


Catch-Up: A1GP Taupo

Preface – This is the first in a regular series where I will write a few short paragraphs giving my general impressions of races I watch which are not F1 or IndyCar. As I am utterly obsessed with motorised combat I have been storing up masses amounts of racing on my DVR and elsewhere since the beginning of the year. I am only now beginning to work through them.

* *
A couple of weeks ago I watched the A1GP races at Taupo, which were held in January. I forgot to take any kind of notes and I think this series of posts will be about impressions of events rather than going into detail. We’ll see.

Taupo is a curious little circuit which got a makeover especially for the return of a big open-wheel single-seater series to New Zealand’s shores after an absence of far, far too long. Unfortunately it is quite dusty and even after the makeover, narrow and has twisty bits. These don’t help bigger open wheel cars and the two A1 races were very processional, the only racing really happening when someone messed up the last turns (which form a chicane) or got a wheel on to the dusty area on the edge of the track.

The cars had faults too, the engine management system was cutting in when drivers were trying to pull away from a standstill, such as a race start or a pit stop. Not good. It ruined several races and cost Ireland the double-victory. The series is still obsessed with PowerBoost.

The event was very well attended proving the appetite for a major open-wheel event in NZ. I am not convinced this is the right venue. There is a new circuit under construction and A1GP is rumoured to be heading there instead, so let’s hope that works, and while the people at Taupo may be disappointed they can take heart from the fact their circuit upgrades are a legacy of A1GP’s long-term aim of improving motorsport facilities around the world in places F1 can’t or won’t touch.

Weekend Preview: 2-3 May 2009

Feature Events


– Gran Premio bwin.com de España
– Jerez de la Frontera
– Jerez, Spain
– (3/18)

MotoGP’s globetrotting is on hold for a while as the series begins a two month, 5-round European leg with the first of three(!) visits to Spain this season, just as with most seasons. I’m completely out of the loop with MotoGP this year because I haven’t had time to watch the first two rounds, I’m sure I’ll catch up at some stage though.

TV Guide:

UK – LIVE on BBC Two at 12:30pm with delayed coverage on Eurosport 2 at 2pm.

US – LIVE?? on SPEED at 6pm ET

Support races: 250cc, 125cc, Red Bull Rookies Cup

Other Events

A1GP World Cup of Motorsport

– Brands Hatch
– Kent, England, UK
– Configuration: Grand Prix
– Track map: Don’t be silly, you know what Brands Hatch looks like

This is the final round of the 2008/09 A1GP season, a very tumultuous season in which anything that could go wrong did go wrong. Cancelled events, reinstated events, reinstated events that were cancelled, trouble with the cars, trouble with the finances…
It has still be fun racing though and let’s hope they are able to hold a 5th season for next winter!

TV Guide:

UK – LIVE on Sky1 at 1:30pm

US and elsewhere – www.a1gp.com

Support races: Formula Palmer Audi, GT Cup, Lotus Elise Trophy, Formula Junior, Sports 2000, Heritage GT

NASCAR Sprint Cup

– Russell Friedman 400
– Richmond International Speedway

– Richmond, USA
– (10/36)

This is a Saturday night race. According to AUTOSPORT (now in ALL CAPS!) there was a competition and the winner had the race named after him, hence the Russell Friedman 400. Only in NASCAR..

TV Guide:

UK – LIVE on Sky Sports Xtra at 12.30am Saturday night / Sunday morning, repeated on SSX at 5:30pm Sunday.

US – LIVE on FOX at 7pm Saturday

Support races: Nationwide Series (Saturday)

FIA World Touring Car Championship

– Race of Morocco
– Marrakech, Morocco
– (3/12)
Track map

An all-new event on a street circuit which was only finished a few weeks ago, and which the 3-time touring car champion Andy Priaulx described on Twitter as being “like Monza without the runoff”!

TV Guide:

UK – LIVE on Eurosport at 1:45pm (race 1) and 2:45pm (race 2)

US and elsewhere try here – www.fiawtcc.com

Support races: local series

FIA GT Championship

– RAC Tourist Trophy
– Silverstone, England, UK
– Configuration: Grand Prix
– (1/8)

This is due to be the final year of FIA GT before the all new FIA World GT series kicks off in 2010, and some of the all-new-spec GT1 cars are on the grid for this race albeit some 3 seconds off the pace of the highly tuned current breed. I’m sure a lot of time will be clawed back as the new cars get into their groove.
I had hoped to attend this race because I’ve never seen a proper sportscar race in person, unfortunately other things have got in the way and I’m unable to make it. As always this will be a 2-hour event.

TV Guide:

UK – Same-day delay in full at 10pm on Setanta Sports 2, with 1hr highlights on Sky Sports on Thursday at 6:30pm and 30 mins on Channel 4 at 7am on the 17th.

Listings for Europe/Middle East.

Support races: FIA GT3 European Championship, FIA GT4 European Cup, Cooper Tires British F3 International Series

Formula Renault 3.5

– World Series by Renault
– Spa-Francorchamps
– Francorchamps, Belgium
– (2/9)

The series which is a bit like GP2 but not as good heads for the hills of Belgium this week. You need to know about it though because it discovered Fernando Alonso, Robert Kubica and Sebastian Vettel.

TV Guide:

UK – Race 2 LIVE on Eurosport at 12:45pm, no apparent coverage of race 1 so I’d expect short highlights of it just prior to the green light for race 2.

Support races: Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup, Megane Trophy

Grand-Am Rolex Series
– Thunderbolt Raceway
– New Jersey Motorsport Park, New Jersey, USA

UK – highlights on Five overnight in the week
US – 1pm ET on SPEED

Australian V8 Supercars (& F.Ford)
– Winton, Australia

Brazilian V8 Stockcars
– Brasilia, Brazil

Super GT
– Fuji, Japan

Spanish GT & F3
– Ricardo Tormo Circuit, Valencia, Spain

* * *
Do we like the sub-headers? Very Champ Car aren’t they?
These posts are becoming a great deal of work so you may find they are pared back to basics in future weeks.

On a personal note, my area finally gets the Digital Switchover on Wednesday! The wider area has it already but with my town in an aerial blackspot we rely on a repeater transmitter – that transmitter gets switched on the 6th. This should mean I get to play with the BBC’s red button service for F1 and MotoGP, as well as watch ITV4’s coverage of BTCC and Tour de France!

Weekend Preview: 11-12 April 2009

We get something of a breather this week and F1-focussed fans certainly need it after the barrage of news and drama of the last fortnight – add in the IndyCar season opener, sports and touring cars and it’s been a very hectic opener to the season!

Time to relax with some motorbikes, if by relaxing you like clinging to the edge of your seat.

* * * *
Feature Event

– Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar (1/17)
– Losail Circuit
– Doha, Qatar, United Arab Emirates
Track Map

** EDIT 13/4/09 – Nobody spotted the deliberate mistake – Qatar isn’t part of the UAE, they are different countries! Okay, I got it wrong… **

The two-wheeled boys are back, the last of the big series to get going and the final signal that the 2009 racing season is truly under way. Qatar isn’t always the best race in the world in terms of close action and again this year it is a night race. In the middle of a desert. Okay.. In any case this is one to watch to learn who everyone is (if you are new) and to get used to team changes, livery changes, and to play “spot the newbie” (if you aren’t so new).

If you haven’t seen MotoGP before, you should probably start now. The races are only 45 minutes long and it is the only form of motorbike racing I watch. It is the F1 of bike racing in terms of technology – and in terms of politics. I’m a very casual fan, reading very little about it between races or in the off-season. I like to switch on the TV at the appointed time and watch some close racing, then leave it until next time. It’s a lot of fun in no small part due to that little Italian guy. When Schumacher won everything it was boring, when Rossi does it it’s entertaining and highly impressive to watch.

UK TV: LIVE on BBC Three at 8.45pm. Don’t worry about the channel choice, the rest of the season will be on BBC Two which is showing golf (The Masters!) this Sunday.
If you haven’t got BBC Three yet the race is available live on the BBC website to UK users. Qualifying is available on Saturday via red button* and online and everything will be on the iPlayer for 7 days.
British Eurosport will have their version at 10pm, just as the BBC coverage ends.

US TV: DELAYED on SPEEDtv at 10pm ET. I have no idea why they delayed this premier class race by six hours in order to show back-to-back episodes of ‘Bullrun’, followed by Dave Despain trying not to give the result away on Wind Tunnel (don’t read the ticker). This is the listing I found. You seriously need to write to these guys and complain at their handling of top class motorsport. This isn’t the first incompetency I’ve seen from them this year and it’s only April. They will be showing the 250cc at 8pm.

Support events:
125cc at 6pm UK, 250cc at 7.15pm UK with both live on Eurosport and BBC’s red button*/online.

* BBC Red Button notes: If you are new to digital TV all you have to do is go to any BBC channel and hit the red button on your remote control (not the standby button!). This will bring up a sidebar. The menu changes name depending on what’s on, though the live telly is usually at the top with the teletext options underneath. It may be called Sport Multiscreen, or there could be a MotoGP link directly. It can be quite slow but eventually it will load a multiple-choice screen – just press the number of the screen you want to see or pick it with your arrow keys and press Select. To exit press BackUp or Back at each stage until it goes away. *

* * *
Other International Events:

– Algarve (Rnd 6*)
– Autodromo Internacional do Algarve
– Portimao, Algarve, Portugal
Track Map

* I’ve given up writing the total number of events because it changes so often.

It’ll be very interesting to see a race at the fantastic-looking new Portimao circuit, which looked great in the F1 winter testing photos. It’s a very hilly track with a lot of gradient change and a lot of corners while also looking quite fast. This is it’s first major international race for cars (has it held a bike event?).

I’ve lost track of A1’s season because I’m about 4 events behind real time in my watching of the series, nonetheless it should be entertaining.

UK TV: Race LIVE on Sky Sports 3 from 1.30pm Sunday with repeats at 6.30pm and 11.30pm both on Sky Sports 2 (you can tell Sky have a financial interest in this one).

US TV: I think the answer is still ‘none’ so you’ll need the live stream at www.a1gp.com (as will UK viewers without Sky).

Support races: Ferrari Challenge (not televised)

* * *
National Events
(according to FORIX (sub req.))

NASCAR Nationwide Series
Nashville Superspeedway, Tennessee, United States

Cooper Tires British F3 International Series
/ Avon Tyres British GT Championship
/ UK Formula Ford
– Oulton Park (F3: 1/10 GT: 1/8)
– Oulton Park, Little Budworth, Cheshire, England
Track Map

The ‘other’ top line British package (alongside BTCC) comprises the domestic F3, GT and Formula Ford series and they have their traditional Oulton Park Easter weekend openers this week. Each series holds 2 or 3 races but look out if you are planning to attend: the racing will be on Saturday and Easter Monday! There’s no action on Sunday but racing on a holiday Monday makes for a great family day out.

UK TV: F3 will be on MotorsTV on April 18th in a 1hr show. GT will follow a week later. There is also a 30min show on Channel 4 but I don’t know when that will be aired.

Further supports from the Ginetta G20 Cup and VW Racing Cup.

German F3 / ADAC GT / Procar / ADAC FMaster
Oschersleben, Germany

French GT / Porsche Cup France
Nogaro, France

Dutch Supercars
Zandvoort, Holland

V8 Brasil
Curitiba, Brazil

British Superbikes
Brands Hatch

* * *
There are a lot of other European junior series too including various Formula Renault national and regional series.