Team Switzerland finally ended Ireland's apparent stranglehold on proceedings at Taupo, taking a second win of the A1GP season, but Adam Carroll's second place ensured that the Emerald Isle remained on top of the points.
In truth, Carroll should have completed a clean sweep of pole positions and race wins, but a baulked pit-stop during Sunday's feature race provided just enough of an opening for Switzerland and Neel Jani, and the reigning champion were not about to squander a chance to keep tabs on the surprise early leaders.
Carroll made another strong start to head the field into turn one, but front row partner, Team Netherlands' Robert Doornbos, was slow off the mark and instantly switched to defence mode, trying to deny Jani a place before eventually losing out, not only to the Swiss, but also to Portugal's Filipe Albuquerque and, having thought that he had kept the Aussie at bay, to an aggressive John Martin too.
If anything, Albuquerque had possibly the best start, and could have been second at worst had he not lightly touched the rear of Carroll's car while looking for a way through. The resulting loss of momentum allowed Jani to snatch second and put himself in pole position to capitalise on any Irish mistake.
Carroll showed no signs of cracking, however, stretching out an early lead as he banged in a string of fastest laps before again becoming one of the first drivers to make their first mandatory pit-stop. A quick turnaround saw the green machine able to resume ahead of its main rivals, and retake the lead when all 19 teams had stopped, with Switzerland, late-stopper Portugal, Australia, France, the Netherlands, Malaysia, India., USA and Great Britain filling out the top ten.
Second time around, however, things did not run quite so smoothly for the Irish as, following another slick stop on lap 22, Carroll's anti-stall device kicked in as he attempted to rejoin in front of Jani, who had pitted at the same time as the leader.
As with Doornbos in race one, the loss of momentum was enough for Carroll to see his position change, and Switzerland edged ahead before they rejoined the track. Portugal completed the top three after receiving another clean stop to retain position.
Even a late safety car was insufficient to unseat Jani, who was able to open out a near two-second advantage in the ensuing laps, although both Ireland and Portugal continued to push. Albuquerque eventually set the fastest lap of the race as they attempted to keep in touch, but, even with Team Switzerland then warning their man that he was losing oil from his engine, the top three crossed the line a few seconds apart.
“What a weekend,” Jani enthused, having only headed to New Zealand after being rushed to hospital with suspected meningitis in the week before the race.