A rare mechanical failure led to an early bath for Team Lebanon in the monsoon-like conditions in Indonesia last weekend, but the squad is now looking ahead to better times in the New Year.

Following Alex Khateeb's running in the rookie session, regular driver Basil Shaaban took over behind the wheel of the Lebanese entry in time for practice and qualifying, eventually lining up in 20th position on the grid for the sprint race.

In hot, dry and humid weather the sprint gave the enthusiastic Indonesian crowd plenty of thrills and spills, but Shaaban succeeded in maintaining his position at the rolling start and thereon in drove steadily, closing on the Indian car ahead of him as the race progressed to cross the finishing line in 19th place and earn himself a tenth row grid slot for the longer feature event.

In-between the two races, the 26-year-old took part in the traditional A1GP pre-race ceremonies, arriving in front of the grandstands in a rickshaw. The Team Lebanon drivers then met with the Lebanese ambassador to Indonesia on the grid as he wished them well for the race.

A change of weather before the green flag lap, however, saw an aborted safety-car start followed by the race being stopped on safety grounds following a sudden thunderstorm.

Re-starting 45 minutes later, Shaaban was quickly off the mark, but after just a handful of tours the former Formula Ford 1800 ace felt his 520bhp machine had a problem, possibly a puncture. The team brought the car into the pits where it was found to have rear suspension failure. It was the outfit's first mechanical failure of the season.

"It was disappointing to have completed so few laps in the feature race," Shaaban admitted, "but motor racing is always unpredictable. The sprint race was tough for me, but I'm continuing to learn and gain valuable experience racing around the world."

"It was unfortunate that we suffered a rare mechanical failure in the feature race, having had a steady race earlier today," concurred team principal Tony Snook, "but we'll be back out in the New Year."



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