Team Netherlands secured its first victory of the A1GP season as Jeroen Bleekemolen led from start-to-finish in an uneventful sprint race on the streets of Beijing.

As expected due to the tight nature of the brand new venue, which has been dogged by problems all weekend, overtaking proved to be nearly impossible, with only limited changes in position during a race that was mostly spent behind the Safety Car.

Rather than the normal rolling start, the race started in single file under the Safety Car which meant there was little chance for drivers to make up places - with the order remaining stagnant until the second lap when Adrian Zaugg spun at turn ten in the South African car and was hit by Team Ireland's Michael Devaney. Although Devaney could continue and returned to the pitlane for a new nose, Zaugg was forced to retire, with the Safety Car coming out while his car was removed from the circuit.

By the time the circuit was cleared - with the field even forced to come to a halt at one stage when a recovery vehicle blocked the circuit - less than four minutes of racing time remained, with Bleekemolen simply knocking off the laps to claim his first win since taking over driving duties with the Dutch team from Jos Verstappen at the start of the year.

"It was really great," he said. "We started from pole so you know you have a good chance of winning, especially on a street race. I was able to create a small gap to Salvador after the safety car and was able to control it. In the morning I was fast and I had a very heavy car but did not know how quick we were compared to the others. I now think we have a good chance for the next one."

Salvador Duran claimed second place for Mexico, a result that sees the South American's move into the championship lead ahead of the feature race, while Team Italy's decision to put experienced racer Enrico Toccacelo in the car paid dividends as he took the final place on the podium - harrying Duran in the closing stages but unable to try and make a pass stick.

"That was a really good start for me and I was also faster than Salvador Duran but here it is impossible to overtake," he said. "I just had to be careful and not crash as it is easy to do that here. We have to wait and see what happens in the Feature race as I may be able to get by - you never know what happens."

Behind the top three, Canada, Germany and Brazil completed the top six, with Oliver in Jarvis in seventh place being the first person in the field to make up a place on his starting position to just miss scoring points for A1 Team GB on his race debut. The Czech Republic, Switzerland and New Zealand rounded out the top ten.

Showing how difficult overtaking was in the limited laps available, Nicolas Lapierre was only able to lift defending champions France up to 17th place having started from the back of the field.

 

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