Polesitter SALVADOR DURAN/A1Team Mexico won the 22-lap A1GP Sprint Race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca by staying out of trouble in the gully washer of a downpour.

The cars gridded up in the bright sunshine, and at the five minute board the skies opened up, and all the teams switched from slicks to wets. This was the first Rain Race in the series. The visibility was so low that most cars could only see the rain lights in front of them...sometimes.

Duran and second starter, NICOLAS LAPIERRE/A1Team France, were jumped at the start by MATT HALLIDAY/A1Team New Zealand, who started third. Duran regained the lead going up the hill towards the Corkscrew, and never relinquished position after that.

Duran said "I lost some gears at the start and Team New Zealand got past and then France as well."

Lapierre was runner-up and earned the first A1GP Championship. "I feel great, it was a team job. It will be difficult in the next race because obviously the team is excited and wants to celebrate, but we have to concentrate on the job and I think we can win the next race."

The Sprint Race was scheduled for 22 laps or half an hour, which ever came first. The clock ran out at 16 laps. The race had a rolling start and did not require a pit stop.

ALVARO PARENTE/A1Team Portugal was third, first time on the podium.

Fourth and fifth were ROBBIE KERR/A1Team Great Britain and RALPH FIRMAN/A1Team Ireland, which stretched Great Britain's lead over Brazil in the standings.

PATRICK CARPENTIER/A1Team Canada had his best finish in his two races with the series, placing sixth. BRYAN HERTA/A1Team USA finished ninth.

MAX PAPIS/A1Team Italy spun and stalled in Turn Six, which brought out the first caution and ended his race. There were other spins and several drivers were caught out but recovered.

Young GRAHAM RAHAL/A1Team Lebanon ran well, as high as eighth until he rear-ended TIMO SCHEIDER/A1Team Germany. Scheider was able to continue and finish seventh, on the lead lap. However, Rahal, who admitted fault in the accident, parked with a damaged steering rack which required quick work on the part of his crew to get him into the Feature race. He also injured his right thumb which made driving painful.

JOS VERSTAPPEN/A1Team Netherlands executed some spectacular doughnuts after a bingle with RYAN BRISCOE/A1Team Australia. Verstappen continued on, and later hit CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI/A1Team Brazil. Verstappen said he just locked up his brakes and hit Fittipaldi, for which he apologized. Fittipaldi later excused Verstappen, saying he understood and it was just racing. Verstappen said he "couldn't see anything except rain lights."

Verstappen was interviewed after the race, on live TV and was told by the interviewer that "we loved your doughnuts." JV said "It was s**t." Don't hold back, Jos, tell us how you really feel.

DARREN MANNING of England was at Laguna this weekend, getting involved with A1Team Great Britain in preparation for his run in the car at the season's finale in China, replacing ROBBIE KERR. Manning joked that although he was attending the briefings, Kerr wasn't telling him anything."

Seen in the pits was DANNY SULLIVAN, having an earnest chat with STEVE EARLE, who has run the Monterey Historics at Laguna Seca for the last 32 years. This year's Monterey Historic Automobile Races will have Cooper as the feature marque.

After the Sprint race, the battle for third place in the standings stretched out a bit between Great Britain with 80 points and Brazil now with 70 points. Netherlands is still trying to break in, with 68 points.

There were some real diehard fans up on the hills. In the pouring rain they were standing out in the open watching every single thing, going from side to side of the hill to catch all the action. It was a veritable United Nations of languages up there.

Correction to the Warm-up Results - the last three cars, A1Teams Czech Republic, Pakistan and Portugal, didn't record a lap.

The Sprint Race was for points and bragging rights. The money is to be won in the Feature Race.

OFFICIAL A1GP SPRINT RACE RESULTS

POS TEAM DRIVER LAPS STATUS

1 MEXICO SALVADOR DURAN 16 RUNNING
2 FRANCE NICOLAS LAPIERRE 16 RUNNING
3 PORTUGAL ALVARO PARENTE 16 RUNNING
4 GREAT BRITAIN ROBBIE KERR 16 RUNNING
5 IRELAND RALPH FIRMAN 16 RUNNING
6 CANADA PATRICK CARPENTIER 16 RUNNING
7 GERMANY TIMO SCHEIDER 16 RUNNING
8 NEW ZEALAND MATT HALLIDAY 16 RUNNING
9 USA BRIAN HERTA 16 RUNNING
10 AUSTRALIA RYAN BRISCOE 16 RUNNING
11 SOUTH AFRICA STEPHEN SIMPSON 16 RUNNING
12 AUSTRIA MATHIAS LAUDA 16 RUNNING
13 BRAZIL CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI 16 RUNNING
14 NETHERLANDS JOS VERSTAPPEN 16 RUNNING
15 PAKISTAN ADAM KHAN 16 RUNNING
16 SWITZERLAND GIORGIO MONDINI 16 RUNNING
17 CHINA TENGYI HIANG 16 RUNNING
18 CZECH REPUBLIC TOMAS ENGE 15 RUNNING
19 ITALY MAX PAPIS 15 SPIN
20 INDONESIA ANANDA MIKOLA 12 ACCIDENT
21 LEBANON GRAHAM RAHAL 9 ACCIDENT
22 MALAYSIA ALEX YOONG 7 SPIN

 

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