A1 Team Australia seat holder Alan Jones admitted to being 'gutted' after John Martin lost a 'definite podium' and possibly even a victory in the A1GP feature outing in Kyalami at the weekend, having been inadvertently baulked by Germany's Michael Ammermüller during the pit-stops.
After finishing outside of the points in twelfth place in the shorter sprint race, Martin took the start of the feature event from fourth on the grid, and ran up in third position early on, behind eventual race-winner Neel Jani and pole-sitter Clivio Piccione in the Monaco entry.
A poor first pit-stop for the latter should have elevated the Gosford native up into second place, but following a swift and smooth stop of his own, trouble ensued when Martin attempted to pull away again, as he suddenly and unexpectedly found Ammermüller across his bows and manoeuvring into the box in front.
The subsequent stall dropped the 24-year-old down to 15th place, and despite lapping quickly he would never recover, ultimately taking the chequered flag a mightily frustrated 13th and last – clearly unlucky for some.
“The car was awesome in the opening stint,” the crestfallen British F3 star told the official series website, when asked about the loss of what would likely have been his breakthrough World Cup of Motorsport rostrum finish.
“I was able to pass Brazil easily on the front straight and then start taking time off Monaco. The problem after the car stalled is that these cars simply won't bump-start and that was that, which is even more of a shame as we have found good speed from it.”
The setback also did little for Australia's chances in the nations' title chase, in which it currently sits eighth, with fewer than half the points total of leaders Switzerland. Former Formula 1 World Champion Jones was unable to hide his disappointment at the outcome of a race that had promised far, far more.
“I'm gutted,” the twelve-time grand prix-winner confessed, “because that was a definite podium gone. John had the pace to press and was matching the lap times of Neel Jani through the first stint.
“Germany weren't expected in that lap, as we'd made an agreement before the race. John had to brake in avoidance, then the anti-stall failed as he swerved around the German car and the mechanics had to run down the pit-lane after the car to try to re-start it.
“Had the car not stalled, we would have lost say five seconds, but that wouldn't have been the end of the world. As it was, the event turned into a complete waste of time.”
“We could have won that race,” agreed team engineer Rob Arnott. “I reckon that John was the fastest out there. He survived a scary moment after the start at turn one when he was left with no option but to take to the grass and that dropped him to fifth, but he was soon back in third and was starting to catch Monaco. And then came the pit-stop...”