New Zealand held off a late-season surge by Great Britain to claim the runner-up spot in the 2006-07 A1GP nations' standings at Brands Hatch last weekend - by the narrowest margin of a single point.

An eighth-place finish courtesy of Matt Halliday in the feature race proved just enough for the Kiwi entry to retain second position in the title chase, a two-place improvement on the squad's performance during the series' inaugural campaign. But with Britain going into the weekend riding the crest of a wave, and Robbie Kerr racking up 16 out of 17 possible points over the course of the meeting, Halliday knew the heat was on.

New Zealand's hopes of staving off the British challenge looked dead and buried when a collision with Ireland in the 20-minute sprint race forced Black Beauty to pit to repair a lost front wing, dashing Halliday's hopes of points and relegating the car to 16th on the grid for the longer feature. The 27-year-old, though, was not to be found wanting.

"It's great to get second in the championship," he enthused afterwards. "Jonny Reid has done a great job this season and it's a credit to the team, owner Colin Giltrap and our foundation sponsors that we've earned this exalted position."

Reid, who had to watch the drama from the pit garage after injuring his hand in a practice crash on Friday, said his heart was rarely out of his mouth during the race.

"Some of the driving from the other drivers with nothing to lose was erratic," the three-time A1GP race-winner commented, "but Matt drove a solid race with everything on the line and we're all just over the moon about being second in the world.

"The weekend was challenging in all areas, but to end up in second spot is a massive achievement. We're ecstatic."

"It's a great atmosphere here and we'll be celebrating after we get over this initial feeling of relief," added Giltrap. "Second in the world in such a competitive series is a fantastic accomplishment."

Team spokesman Bob McMurray was also delighted with the overall outcome, after a dramatic finale in which it almost all came unstuck.

"We're not doing cartwheels because it shouldn't have been that difficult," he said. "We spent the whole weekend swimming against the tide, but it turned in our favour after a slick pit-stop and a timely safety car that bunched the field up and gave Matt a chance to make up some positions. Fourth overall last year and second this season - that's pretty special."



Loading Comments...