Salvador Duran fired a signal of Mexico's potential in the new A1GP season, by finishing just shy of the podium in both the sprint and feature races at Zandvoort and setting fastest lap in the latter along the way for good measure.

The 22-year-old qualified the Mexican entry - under new ownership for the 2007/08 campaign - an excellent third on the grid for the sprint race, but despite a bright start a collision soon after the lights had gone out undid all his hopes of claiming a rostrum finish.

"The sprint race was hard," Duran admitted, "because at the start I had contact with Adrian Zaugg when attempting to pass him for first place. That cost me a lot because we lost grip when a wishbone was bent in the front left suspension.

"After the contact I was third. It was difficult to keep my position and (Jeroen) Bleekemolen overtook me. I thought we were going to lose a lot of positions at the end so I should be glad with this fourth-place finish, because we collected points and finished the race."

The reigning Daytona 24 Hours winner lined up eighth on the grid for the longer feature outing, knowing he would have more work to do in order to make up ground but - crucially - equally more time in which to do so as well. A good start saw Duran gain two positions off the grid, and following his first pit-stop he moved past Ireland's Ralph Firman, Christian Vietoris for reigning champions Germany and Jonny Reid behind the wheel of 'Black Beauty' to steal fourth spot. Though he closed to within under four seconds of Switzerland's Neel Jani at the chequered flag, again the podium would narrowly elude him.

"I pushed as much as possible," he underlined, "but the tyres were worn out because I had to overtake several times; therefore I pitted again. The car was very good, we pushed hard and set the fastest lap. We were gaining ground over the leaders at an average of one second per lap.

"The two races were really hard, and with the results we are fourth in the championship. I am pleased with that, and the Interwetten team did a good job on their debut in the series. I want to thank A1 Team Mexico for their support and for inviting me to compete in this race, and I also thank my sponsors because they are always supporting me."

"The project is becoming stronger," agreed A1 Team Mexico vice-president Julio Jauregui, "and we feel very glad for the race results obtained. We know we have to work harder, but the base of the project is solid. We have a good car and Salvador felt very comfortable with the technical personnel."

With the squad sitting just two points adrift of second place in the nations' standings, Escuderia Telmex director Jimmy Morales was confident of making further inroads throughout the season, and stressed consistency would be the key to a concerted championship challenge.

"We were strong," he stated. "I think as time passes we are going to improve our performance every day. First place in the championship is a little bit away, but we are on the right track. We came here not for victories but for points, because this is a long championship. What we need is to be consistent to obtain it, and we think we can win a lot of races in the series in the future.

"The team worked hard on the car. We had some difficulties during the pit-stops and lost a little bit of time there, but that is normal because we didn't have enough time to prepare ourselves as it should be for this event.

"The number one driver, who will represent Mexico at Brno, is not confirmed yet. Escuderia Telmex has to have a meeting with all the group of sponsors to reach an agreement and know who is going to be the designated driver for the next race."

 

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