Team Switzerland finally ended Ireland's apparent stranglehold on proceedings at Taupo, taking a second win of the A1GP season, but Adam Carroll's second place ensured that the Emerald Isle remained on top of the points.

In truth, Carroll should have completed a clean sweep of pole positions and race wins, but a baulked pit-stop during Sunday's feature race provided just enough of an opening for Switzerland and Neel Jani, and the reigning champion were not about to squander a chance to keep tabs on the surprise early leaders.

Carroll made another strong start to head the field into turn one, but front row partner, Team Netherlands' Robert Doornbos, was slow off the mark and instantly switched to defence mode, trying to deny Jani a place before eventually losing out, not only to the Swiss, but also to Portugal's Filipe Albuquerque and, having thought that he had kept the Aussie at bay, to an aggressive John Martin too.

If anything, Albuquerque had possibly the best start, and could have been second at worst had he not lightly touched the rear of Carroll's car while looking for a way through. The resulting loss of momentum allowed Jani to snatch second and put himself in pole position to capitalise on any Irish mistake.

Carroll showed no signs of cracking, however, stretching out an early lead as he banged in a string of fastest laps before again becoming one of the first drivers to make their first mandatory pit-stop. A quick turnaround saw the green machine able to resume ahead of its main rivals, and retake the lead when all 19 teams had stopped, with Switzerland, late-stopper Portugal, Australia, France, the Netherlands, Malaysia, India., USA and Great Britain filling out the top ten.

Second time around, however, things did not run quite so smoothly for the Irish as, following another slick stop on lap 22, Carroll's anti-stall device kicked in as he attempted to rejoin in front of Jani, who had pitted at the same time as the leader.

As with Doornbos in race one, the loss of momentum was enough for Carroll to see his position change, and Switzerland edged ahead before they rejoined the track. Portugal completed the top three after receiving another clean stop to retain position.

Even a late safety car was insufficient to unseat Jani, who was able to open out a near two-second advantage in the ensuing laps, although both Ireland and Portugal continued to push. Albuquerque eventually set the fastest lap of the race as they attempted to keep in touch, but, even with Team Switzerland then warning their man that he was losing oil from his engine, the top three crossed the line a few seconds apart.

"What a weekend," Jani enthused, having only headed to New Zealand after being rushed to hospital with suspected meningitis in the week before the race.

"On Monday, I still felt really bad, but I just got better every day with the warm weather in New Zealand, and it looks like the clean, fresh air helped me as well. The first race was already good, but coming up from fifth to first was something we would not have expected.

"This was the most points we have scored on a weekend this season, so now it is starting to come good for us, even if there are still a lot of points needed to catch up."

Although disappointed not to have made it a win double, Carroll's second place was enough to confirm Ireland's position at the head of the standings, now with a 13-point lead over Switzerland.

"Everything was going well until the second pit-stop," he sighed, "As I left [the pit box], the engine just went. It didn't stall immediately - actually, the anti-stall system came in - but then it stalled completely and I had to bump start it and go again. I don't really know what happened. I was actually lucky not to lose more places."

Albuquerque's third place was good enough to move the Portuguese team into a similar position in the standings.

"I think the race pace and our speed this weekend was really there, but it was just a question of being in front," he admitted, "It was interesting to see the gaps between us when Adam was leading and I would have liked to be in front to see if I could have gone at the same pace.

"Offline, though, it was really dirty, and I think it was just a case of whoever didn't make a mistake would get third place."

Martin kept his head to bring fourth place for Australia, while the Netherlands, France, India, the USA, Italy and South Africa rounded out the top ten. Brazil and Malaysia had been in the mix early on, but both spun and lost ground, the former after appearing to close off Monaco's Clivio Piccione and veteran Fairuz Fauzy under his own steam heading into the chicane, perhaps as a similarly rotating Indonesia distracted him.

USA's Marco Andretti had already taken a place from Italy when Fauzy spun, so moved up another place when the Malaysian went off, while Doornbos also took advantage of the confusion to make a move on France's Lo?c Duval for fifth.

Piccione had been heading for a possible top ten before his brush with Brazil, which cost him his front wing, and a subsequent spin, while returnee Cheng Congfu endured a trying race for China as he spun early on, then attracted a drive-thru' penalty for leaving the pits with his rear jack still attached.

There were problems at the start for local favourite Chris van der Drift and luckless Lebanon, who clashed towards the rear of the field, ending Daniel Morad's day with front wing damage and forcing the New Zealand car to pit for fresh tyres after picking up a puncture.

Great Britain debutant Dan Clarke, meanwhile, spun off at turn eleven, but was able to rejoin and eventually finished 13th.



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