Nicolas Lapierre soaked up the grandstand support during A1GP's visit to Indonesia last weekend, as the GP2 star led Team France to its fourth podium finish of an ever-improving season.

Spurred on by plenty of fans waving huge banners reading 'Allez Nicolas', Lapierre finished seventh in the sprint race before charging to third in the feature in torrential weather conditions that forced the start to be delayed and the pace car to be deployed. The weekend may also have been an A1GP adieu for the popular Frenchman, who has signalled his intent to concentrate on his 2007 GP2 programme with DAMS following the Christmas break.

"I had a good start and was running in fifth position but I lost a bit of time with the first set of tyres," the 22-year-old explained. "Thirty-nine laps before the end, the team called me in for an early pit-stop. Everything worked well and I rejoined in 13th.

"I was determined to finish well despite the really bad conditions and continued my fight up the order. The team helped me tremendously and the pit-stop was perfect, but I lost my advantage on lap 24 as Great Britain and USA passed me.

"I fought back and regained fourth leaving Jonny Reid behind me. Overall it was a good race and a tough fight all the way through. Nine laps before the end, I was in third place as the safety car came out after Robbie Kerr's spun.

"Considering the start, the fact we had to change the set-up on the grid and the overall bad weather conditions, it is an excellent result. We have a good speed in the races, but need to work on our qualifying results."

Those thoughts were echoed by team manager Eric Boullier, who is keen to take les bleus back to the top step of the rostrum once more after the squad thoroughly dominated A1GP's inaugural campaign from 2005-06, running away with 13 of the season's 22 races. The DAMS-run outfit is currently lying fourth in the nations' title chase, 16 points adrift of pace-setter Germany.

"Nicolas drove a great race," he concurred. "To start from seventh and get to the podium is a good result. The team worked hard and consistently and our strategy paid off. I'm very happy for Nicolas. Now we need to focus on our qualifying better so we can fight for wins."

 

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