A1 Team Italy has secured its maiden victory in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport after Enrico Toccacelo took advantage of problems for cars ahead to win the feature race in Beijing.

Toccacelo started the race from third on the grid after a podium finish in the sprint race and ran strongly throughout - hitting the front after problems for both the Netherlands and Germany to storm to a comfortable victory.

The Safety Car, which had 'led' for most of the sprint race, would again play a major part in proceedings and was called out as early as lap two, when Nur Ali retired the Team Pakistan car on the first lap. Team Ireland were also an early retirement as the majority of the field held position following the Safety Car period.

Sprint race winner Jeroen Bleekemolen led from Mexican Salvador Duran, but Duran would soon hit problems of his own as he brushed the wall - although that contact would lead to the drivers behind showing that overtaking is indeed possible around the narrow circuit on the streets of the Chinese capital.

Canada's James Hinchcliffe, German Nico Hulkenberg and Brazilian debutant Raphael Matos all found a way past Duran before he retired from the race.

When the pit stop window opened, Bleekemolen, Toccacelo, Hulkenberg and sixth placed Oliver Jarvis in the Team GB car all took the chance to pit and it looked like being the right choice when the Safety Car returned to the circuit when Neel Jani pulled off in the Swiss entry.

It effectively left two races running on circuit, with Canada leading Brazil, the Czech Republic and New Zealand out front, but with Bleekemolen running fifth having made his stop and Hulkenberg now running second of those to have pitted after jumping Toccacelo on pitlane when the Italian had a problem with the front left wheel.

Matos briefly got ahead of Hinchcliffe at the hairpin for the race lead although it appeared to be more down to outbraking himself and trying to avoid the Canadian car before another Safety Car period - this time when 'Frankie' Cheng was punished for constantly jumping the kerbs when his suspension failed and tipped him into the wall in the Team China entry.

Leaving it until the last possible moment, the leaders finally pitted for their mandatory stop, leaving Bleekemolen to lead the race from Hulkenberg, Toccacelo and Jarvis, but with less than ten minutes of the race remaining and with a second win of the day there for the taking, Bleekemolen spun going into turn four and backed the Dutch car into the tyres. The Safety Car was once more called upon as the car was removed, but as the field came across the start/finish line it was the blue car of Italy that led, with peeling off into the pits with what would emerge as a gearbox issue that had appeared just as he swept into the lead. His retirement would ensure Mexico retain the championship lead.

When the race went green for the final time, only minutes remained - but those minutes were without doubt the most action packed of race day.

Dicing for seventh place, Tomas Enge dived down the inside of Adrian Zaugg into the hairpin but the South African refused to give up the place and immediately battled back against his Czech rival, with the duo both managing somehow to keep out of the wall.

However, the same couldn't be said for others, as on the penultimate lap, Alex Yoong peeled off at the hairpin with broken suspension that forced him out of fifth place, At the same moment Hinchcliffe launched an attack on Nicolas Lapierre, who had taken advantage of the problems for those ahead to come through the field from 17th to fourth. On the last lap, Lapierre tried to make a move on the young Champ Car Atlantic driver, and the pressure proved to be enough to force the Canadian into an error as he clipped the wall with the right rear and breaking his suspension before slamming back into the wall with the front of the car.

Lapierre continued to finish fourth but out front it was Toccacelo who took the win, opening up a comfortable advantage in the closing laps to secure victory from debutant Jarvis, who produced a fine debut display to take a place on the podium. Karl Reindler took the final podium place for Australia.

Behind Lapierre, Zaug was able to hold off the challenge of Enge for fifth, with Raphael Matos taking seventh from Christian Murchison late on. However eighth for Murchison was still a result good enough to give Singapore its first points finish in A1Gp competition. Matt Halliday was ninth having been one of the drivers to lose out in the pitstops while Hinchcliffe, despite his accident, was classified in tenth.

India's Armaan Ebrahim, Yoong and Lebanon's Basil Shaaban were the other classified drivers despite also failing to take the flag.

 

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