Ho-Pin Tung was unable to disguise his joy at claiming China's first ever podium in A1 Grand Prix at Eastern Creek, not least because it was a feat achieved by a combination of determined driving and an astute race strategy by the team.

Building on what has been something of a breakthrough season for China, whose best result coming into the weekend was an equally impressive fourth place at Brno courtesy of Congfu Cheng earlier in the year, Tung proved his sixth place on the grid wasn't flattering to deceive when he recovered from a disappointing start to eventually finish exactly where he started in the sprint race.

However, while that result rewarded a much appreciated single point, China would go on to strategically usurp their more experienced rivals in the feature race by allowing Tung to stay out far longer than any other driver.

Coming into the pit lane some nine laps after the majority of stops had occurred, Tung returned to the circuit in fifth place - up on the eighth position he held over the first few laps - and immediately began hounding Tomas Enge in front of him.

Benefiting from having fresher tyres than the Czech car, Tung got alongside coming out of the final corner and held the inside line through turn one to move into fourth place and set his sights of Jeroen Bleekemolen in third.

Interestingly, Tung is officially considered a Dutch-Chinese citizen, although there was little evidence of patriotism for the former nation when he pulled possibly the finest move of the season around the outside of Bleekemolen through the exceptionally fast and slippery turn one, a move that got the Australian crowd on their feet.

"I think on the TV maybe it looked a bit braver when I overtook the Netherlands than it was in reality," he claimed. "I just had a very good tow down the main straight and I overtook him on the outside. I used my PowerBoost to get a really good tow, moved to the outside and could carry more speed into the corner where he had to lift as he had to defend his position."

Although further progress was stymied by the large gap between himself and the leaders, Tung nonetheless displayed his ability by lapping just as fast as Hulkenberg and Reid midway through the race, ultimately pulling a comfortable seven second margin by the end of the race.

Remarkably, China become the 15th nation - out of the 23 who began the season - to record a podium this season, a status that Tung was thrilled with as he received rapturous applause when he stepped onto the rostrum.

"I had a good speed, the car handled well, and I could do with car exactly what I wanted. I was able to push hard and when looking at the lap charts it is clear that we are closing the gap with the top.

"Normally I would not be extremely happy with a third place, but it is very rewarding that I was able to give China its first ever podium finish, in only my third race in A1-GP Cup of Nations.' After stepping from the rostrum, after the technical and tactical debrief with the team and after all his public relations duties it was party time in Sydney. I believe that I will be expected to show up."

 

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