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.

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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.