A pit-stop problem potentially cost Nico H?lkenberg victory in the latest round of A1GP at Sentul last weekend, as the German came home just over a second shy of the win in the feature race in torrential weather.

H?lkenberg seemed to revel in the treacherous conditions, as he had done at Sepang a fortnight earlier en route to his second triumph of an ever-more impressive campaign. Indeed, the 19-year-old is increasingly marking himself out as an undoubted star of the future, having wrapped up the Formula BMW Germany laurels in only his debut season in the category in 2005.

Fifth place in the earlier sprint would prove to be a precursor to a feature race charge. Grabbing the lead from the New Zealand entry as early as lap six, the Emmerich ace went on to open up a 20-second advantage on the tricky surface, before a less consistent second set of tyres allowed eventual winner Jonny Reid to close back in again and reclaim his advantage.

Changing over to slicks on lap 29, an air hose at the left rear power wrench broke, costing H?lkenberg 12 seconds. A safety-car phase caused by Robbie Kerr's spin bunched the field back up again shortly before the end, and at the flag the German was a mere 1.1 seconds adrift - a clear sign of what might have been had he not had to contend with those pit-stop woes.

The former German Formula 3 front-runner was nevertheless pleased to have stretched Team Germany's lead in the nations' title chase from six points to 12 as the series heads into its Christmas break.

"We expanded the lead in the standings - that's why I can be very happy with second place," he stated. "In the sprint race I lost three places, then when a gear got jammed while I was up-shifting another position was lost to Australia, but later I overtook him again under braking.

"In the main race visibility was even worse than in the previous race in Malaysia. When Jonny Reid made a braking mistake, I took the lead. Unfortunately the car handled very strangely on the second set of tyres and I slid off the track once, so we changed again, but a power wrench got jammed in the process. Towards the end I decided to play it safe and follow Jonny across the finish line."

Team principal Willi Weber was also satisfied with his outfit's presentation over the weekend, meaning the German entry has now scored in eight out of the ten races held so far.

"Congratulations to Nico on his sensational performance," he said. "He was fantastic in the rain yet again and, despite a problem with the power wrench, he finished as the runner-up.

"Before the race we promised to give a rebuttal to our critics on the track, and we managed to do that. We even doubled our advantage over the British team in the standings. However, that's no reason to be more defensive in the sixth round in New Zealand in January - on the contrary, this result will motivate us to fight for victory again."



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