Co-reigning A1 Grand Prix champion Nicolas Lapierre will not return to the championship this season after choosing to instead concentrate on his duties in the GP2 Series, the Frenchman handing the baton over to Loic Duval.

Having swept to championship glory last year alongside Alexandre Premat, Lapierre returned to the team for the start of the 2006/2007 season but has so far failed to build upon the thirteen wins France managed last year.

As a result, France switched to rookie driver Duval for the first race of 2007 at Taupo, the Formula Nippon front runner belying his inexperience to claim a pair of second place finishes and help push the team into second place in the standings.

Indeed, Lapierre claims he was only ever called upon to fill the void early on in the season while Duval acclimatised to the championship, something he proved he had done with his superb debut performance in New Zealand.

As a result, Lapierre will bid farewell to A1 GP for the time being in order to concentrate on the coming GP2 Series with DAMS.

"According to Jean-Paul Driot's initial plan, my role was to support Team A1 France for the start of the season as well as help Lo?c Duval familiarize himself with the car and the team. In view of my current preparatory work for the GP2 season, it seems like the right time for me to let Lo?c take over the role of official driver, in order for me to focus on my main goal, which is to win with DAMS in 2007. I particularly want to thank A1 Team France and wish them the same success this year."

Driot too expressed his thanks to Lapierre for all he has done for the team in the series, although with DAMS overseeing Team France's effort in A1 GP, Driot won't have long to wait before he is teaming up with Lapierre one again.

"It has been an immense pleasure for me and A1 Team France to work with Nicolas during the first and the start of the second A1 Grand Prix Championships. He is a very talented driver, a fighter, and we will certainly miss him a lot and regret him leaving us.

"On the other hand, his future is in GP2 so I am delighted to see how serious he is about preparing for this new challenge with DAMS; for us it's just adieu, more than goodbye. Nico, thank you for your hard work, your professionalism and the results we accomplished together; see you in GP2!"

 

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