Robert Wickens produced a superb performance to seal Canada's maiden A1GP success in the Durban sprint race, whilst no-scores for France and South Africa and a disaster for New Zealand and Germany saw third-placed Switzerland regain the championship lead.

In glorious sunshine, Wickens made a good start from pole position, and survived an assault from Jonny Reid in Black Beauty into the first corner to retain his composure - and his advantage. He then saw his five-second lead disappear close to the end of the race courtesy of a safety car period - brought out when fellow front row sitter Bruno Junqueira hit the wall on lap nine after bouncing over the kerbs at the chicane, damaging the bodywork of the Brazilian car in the process - but he soaked up the pressure of Great Britain's Oliver Jarvis and Swiss star Neel Jani behind him to take the chequered flag just under a second to the good. The 18-year-old's delight afterwards was palpable.

"I knew we had a very good chance at winning the race," the Toronto rookie admitted, "because we were quick in qualifying and we had a really solid race car through practice.

"I was basically going into the start with my whole goal just to make it into the first corner well, and that was slightly hairy. I braked and I think either Jonny thought I was going to brake later or maybe he overshot it, I don't know.

"I'm not going to jump to any conclusions, but I saw him coming really quick behind me so I actually let off the brake to try and give him more space. We still made contact though, and that damaged my car a little bit as well."

Damage or not, Wickens held on supremely at the head of the pack, whilst Reid's missing front wing from the start-line fracas saw the Kiwi ace forced to pit for a new one and rejoin right at the rear of the field. The 24-year-old would ultimately cross the finish line 21st and last - though he did at least take some small consolation away from the race by gaining a point for setting the fastest lap.

Reid had also run wheel-to-wheel with Jarvis at the start, and the Briton benefited from his rival's mistake to steal second place - though his car too sustained race-long damage.

"I got a great start and managed to brake extremely late around the outside," the newly-signed Audi DTM ace explained afterwards. "I actually thought I was going to get the lead, but unfortunately New Zealand tagged Robbie Wickens of Canada, which just pushed him out wide and compromised me a little bit.

"Then as I tried to go around the outside of the corner, New Zealand again drove into the side of me and damaged the car quite a bit. I managed to get into second, but from then on I was really struggling so was never quick enough to challenge for the lead. I was happy to finish on the podium, though."

Wickens and Jarvis were joined up on the rostrum by Jani, who was perhaps the happiest man of all three after reclaiming the title lead in the nations' standings. The former Champ Car and GP2 star began the race fifth, but failures to score for France (eleventh), South Africa (13th), New Zealand and Germany (excluded) left the Swiss squad sitting pretty.

Michael Ammerm?ller was removed from the results after he ran into the back of Jeroen Bleekemolen in the bright orange Dutch machine heading into the final corner following the late-race safety car period. Both cars were out on the spot, but with the race being stopped and the results counted back a lap, Bleekemolen was initially classified fifth and Ammerm?ller sixth. The young German was subsequently disqualified over his manoeuvre after being deemed to have caused an avoidable collision, but his victim was less than impressed.

"He has been pushing people off in every race," the former DTM and sportscar ace exclaimed of his assailant. "You brake and he just knocks you off. This guy is impossible to drive with; you can't race with him in a fair way. There are 20 drivers you can drive fairly with, but not him."

There were happier fortunes for China's Congfu Cheng, who was on superb form as he charged from tenth on the grid to finish fourth ahead of Bleekemolen, with John Martin profiting from Ammerm?ller's exclusion to end up sixth. It was a particularly impressive showing from the 23-year-old Aussie, who had been hospitalised overnight with a suspected stomach bug.

Filipe Albuquerque finished seventh on his A1GP race debut for Portugal, with Mexico's David Garza, Malaysian Fairuz Fauzy and Jonathan Summerton in the USA 'We The People' car rounding out the top ten.

Parthiva Sureshwaren finished the race 18th after being parachuted into the Indian entry in place of regular driver Narain Karthikeyan. The series veteran injured his wrist during Friday practice, and though he succeeded in qualifying ninth, he was unable to take the race start. That left his countryman to take his place, albeit from the very back of the grid.

Junqueira, meanwhile, was the only non-classified finisher at the close of play. The Brazilian's accident came after he had pitted for a replacement nose, which was almost immediately ripped off again when he caught the kerb in one of the chicanes. The nose cone subsequently got stuck underneath the car, sending the eight-time Champ Car race-winner over the kerb, into the left-hander and into the wall.



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