A battling fifth place finish in the latest round in Indonesia has kept Team Malaysia well in the A1GP title chase as the series heads for its winter break, though Alex Yoong was adamant it could have been so much more.

Although the former grand prix star struggled to find a decent set-up in qualifying, consequently beginning the sprint race down in 13th spot on the grid, he kept out of trouble to earn himself a sixth-row starting position for the feature. Despite torrential conditions, he then retained his composure to bring home six points and ensure the Malaysian squad left Sentul still amongst the top six in the nations' standings.

A heavy rainstorm prior to the parade lap caused a 45-minute delay before the main event got underway, but when the lights finally did go green Yoong was quick off the mark, powering down to the first corner in the atrocious conditions to be lying in seventh place at the end of the opening tour. Ten laps later and he was fifth, though despite leading briefly in the run-up to the pit-stops, he would rejoin back in seventh with it all to do over again.

However, on used tyres Yoong began to drift back down the order, forcing the squad to call him in for slicks sooner than had been ideally anticipated given the conditions. Now happier with his car's performance, the double Brno winner began to make up for lost time, putting all his years of experience to good use as he fought his way back up through the pack into sixth place, which would become fifth when the Dutch entry was disqualified after the race.

"In the sprint race we didn't have the pace," the 30-year-old admitted. "We didn't really get to grips with a car set-up for the hot, dry conditions and this showed in our lap times and ultimately our finishing position.

"I'm disappointed that a set of tyres potentially cost us the feature race. We have to carry over a set of tyres from the last race and these were the ones that we put on in our first stop. We were about two seconds a lap slower on these and so we had no alternative but to stop again. This time, although it was a bit too early for dry tyres, we had to take the gamble. We've earned some points which I'm happy about, but it could easily have been a podium."

A1 Team Malaysia chief executive Jack Cunningham, however, was impressed with his charge's maturity in the trying circumstances, and confident as he looked ahead to the remainder of the season.

"Alex drove superbly today, particularly in the feature race which started in difficult weather conditions," he stated. "I think we were victims of a rare inconsistency in the wet tyres that we were allocated and this really was pivotal for us. If it hadn't have been for that poor set of tyres I think we could have added to our trophy collection.

"Although we didn't provide Alex and Fairuz (Fauzy) with a well set-up car this weekend, we know we have a highly competitive package. We haven't reached mid-distance in the series yet, so there's plenty of opportunity to get back to our top form. We'll look forward to the challenge of the new track in New Zealand now."

The A1GP World Cup of Motorsport now takes a six-week end-of-year break, with racing due to resume on 19-21 January in Taupo, New Zealand.

 

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