Britain, Lebanon salvage points from tough weekend.
The British and Lebanese teams would have been hoping for more from the South African round of A1GP's World Cup of Motorsport, but left Kyalami content to have added to their points tally, however meagrely.
With Danny Watts back on board after missing the Taupo event, Team Great Britain could have been expected to be a frontrunner, except for the fact that its car was sidelined for the entire opening day as series organisers waited to fit parts needed to deal with Kyalami's altitude, and then by electrical gremlins on Saturday. Lebanon, meanwhile, made the most of some of the faster teams missing Friday practice, as Daniel Morad set the Friday pace, but the Atlantic Series contender was then denied a chance to qualify strongly by misfire problems.
Starting 13th for the 14-lap sprint race proved to be another unlucky omen for Watts, as he dropped one position after the first lap and then to 16th after the compulsory round of pit-stops. Keen to redress the balance, Watts made a move to overtake Brazil on the start/finish straight on lap nine, but contact between the two cars damaged the Briton's
sidepod and tyres, sending him into the gravel trap and ending his race.
With the car repaired, Watts gained two places at the start of the 40-lap feature, moving up to eighth, and with points leader Ireland being pushed off on the first lap, made up another to lie seventh. Three laps later, a mistake by Malaysia moved Watts up to sixth, and the team gained another position after the first mandatory pit-stop on lap nine. However, during its second and final stop, made from fifth place on lap 26, the team lost out to Portugal, dropping Watts to sixth and into the hands of a charging Morad, who claimed the spot fo Lebanon on the run to the flag.
“We have come out of the weekend with a semi-decent result, and that's satisfying after what has been a very character-building weekend for all of us," Watts admitted.
"I'm really disappointed with the [sprint race] result, especially as the team had transformed the car for the better since yesterday. It was really easy to drive and it's just a shame that we found the sweet spot so late in the weekend. The car was fantastic throughout the feature and that made it a lot easier during each stint. I had a good
race with both Netherlands and Portugal, but unfortunately lost out at the pit-stops, which is one thing I've got to work on.”
Morad's weekend, meanwhile, could have been a script from a Hollywood blockbuster as, after his strong start and then battling major engine problems and other technical issues that kept the team working late into each night, the 18-year old produced a superb race from the back of the grid to claim a career-best sixth for both himself and the team.
“The guys have worked so hard this weekend with major challenges for them, so it is a superb result for everyone, particularly after the disappointing races we've had previously," seat holder Tameem Auchi commented, "Daniel put in a huge effort to have a fantastic pace in every session and in these two races. It was a pleasure to watch him racing today and we're all delighted to be celebrating a strong top ten finish.”