Sean McIntosh is hoping it will be a happy return to Sentul this weekend, as the World Series by Renault star aims to repeat Canada's A1GP triumph at the Indonesian circuit from earlier this year.

The win was a first for both the Vancouver native and his team in the championship, and a welcome tonic in his final outing of the season for the squad after he had crashed out on the opening lap of the sprint race. What made his victory all-the-more memorable was it was achieved from plum last on the starting grid, with a drive-through penalty thrown in for good measure.

"When I headed to Indonesia last time out I knew Patrick Carpentier was coming into the team for the final three races," reminisced the 21-year-old on the proudest moment of his burgeoning career, "but I didn't feel as if I was under any additional pressure as a result of that. I approach every race the same way and that's simply to try and compete at the front so it wasn't as if I was going to Sentul to do anything different just because I was being replaced for the rest of the season.

"We'd had a good season to that point, we'd had a few ups and downs along the way but everyone in the team was pleased with our performances so to cap it all off with a win in my final outing was definitely something very special.

"We hadn't dominated the weekend by being fastest in every session or anything like that. We knew we'd have to work hard at Sentul, not least as we were having some balance problems with the car. I was actually a little bit disappointed that we qualified down in eighth for the sprint race as I'd qualified around that spot quite regularly and wanted to make a bit more of a splash on my last run with the team."

A clash with Team Malaysia's Alex Yoong in the sprint race left McIntosh right down at the back of the 23-car grid in the feature, but being it would also mark his final appearance of the season in A1GP, he was not about to go out quietly.

"We took a bit of a chance on our set-up," he admitted. "We'd been a little conservative over the course of the weekend, not wanting to try anything too crazy, but we figured we had little to lose given our starting position and it turned out the car handled beautifully in the race.

"I made a good start and our aim of getting into the top ten, and therefore the points, looked quite achievable. The drive-through penalty which followed my pit-stop was definitely a setback but I think after that the red mist came down and spurred me on to overtake a few more cars and work my way back up through the field.

"I was able to place the car wherever I wanted, it really was excellent throughout the race and it definitely made it a lot easier to attack. I remember our team manager John Village coming on the radio telling me to 'attack, attack, attack' and that's when I remember thinking that this could be our race for the taking if everything fell into place."

Attack McIntosh certainly did, and with the Canadian machine lying fourth at the onset of the last safety car period, and Great Britain and South Africa ahead still needing to make their mandatory pit-stops, that breakthrough success was looking more of a possibility than ever.

"I knew at the final re-start that I had to have a go at Tomas Enge who was now leading," he continued, "so I could hopefully put a bit of daylight between myself and Jos Verstappen who was ever-threatening. We headed down the main straight and I took full advantage of my PowerBoost button to give me that extra bit of horsepower and pulled off a pretty good move into the first turn to pass Enge. It was a little gutsy but sometimes when everything's going right you can get away with these things! I took the lead of the race and from that moment on I was suddenly aware of every noise and vibration in the car but I needn't have worried.

"As soon as I took the chequered flag the team was on the radio screaming with excitement and I thanked them for doing an awesome job. It was an incredible feeling. To-date it's the biggest win of my career and with it happening on the international stage people definitely took notice of it.

"The victory was even sweeter as it was for Canada. While I was pleased with my personal performance I was representing my country in the World Cup of Motorsport, and it was an amazing moment to take the maple leaf flag onto the top step of the podium and sing the national anthem."

Team Canada currently sits sixth 2006-07 A1GP standings courtesy of McIntosh's efforts in Malaysia and team-mate James Hinchcliffe's performances in the opening three rounds of the season, including a podium finish second time out in Brno.

 

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