New Zealand scored their first double A1 Grand Prix victory after a superb drive through the order by Johnny Reid, a result that also hauls them into the lead of the standings.

Having already dominated the sprint race from the front row of the grid, New Zealand faced a tougher task in the feature race as they could only manage seventh place.

Nonetheless, an impressive drive back in contention through the two pit stops allowed Reid to lead home Netherlands and Switzerland and in the process vault the Oceanic nation to the head of the championship.

From the off, Jeroen Bleekemolen held sway at the front of the field, the Dutchman getting a good start to lead fellow front row sitters South Africa through the first few bends, while Great Britain followed in third and China and Switzerland swapped positions in fourth and fifth.

Despite their strong qualifying pace, Adrian Zaugg was seemingly not quite as comfortable in the race and as such spent much of the early part fending off the attentions of those directly behind him.

Indeed, Netherlands were rapidly pulling a gap over South Africa in the first few laps, with almost four seconds the difference by lap six as Bleekemolen stretched his legs.

In a bid to get the jump on South Africa, Great Britain, Switzerland and France chose to pit, but unfortunately for them, Zaugg was also in for his stop and as such came back out just ahead of them.

Netherlands was also in the pit lane, Bleekemolen getting back out in an effective lead, with an increased margin of around seven seconds.

It promoted China and Brazil into a 1-2 position, followed by Canada and Pakistan - all of which were yet to pit -, with Netherlands now leading New Zealand, Reid jumping up from sixth to an effective second place through the pit stops ahead of South Africa, Great Britain and France.

The pressure finally told on Zaugg though when he touched with Robbie Kerr as the Brit attempted to find a way through, a move that left France's Nicolas Lapierre up behind his fellow GP2 racer. However, when Lapierre attempted to find his way through a lap later, he instead went off the circuit, allowing Kerr back past both himself and Zaugg.

Zaugg continued to plummet down the order, with Switzerland getting through, while China and Brazil also rejoined after their first pit-stops ahead again. Falling behind Ireland to ninth, Zaugg finally pitted on lap 24, only to then stall. He would finish down in 16th.

Reid quickly began pressuring Bleekemolen in the lead, his decision to pit when he did clearly benefiting him as he climbed all over the back of the Dutch car.

Although no pass followed, Bleekemolen pitted for a second time on lap 24, leaving Reid with a chance to try and pull a big enough gap between the two before he too entered the pit lane.

That came at the end of the 31st lap and when Reid returned to the circuit he was just ahead of the Dutchman in the lead. From there, Reid was untroubled, multiplying his lead over the remaining seven laps to cross the line seven seconds ahead of Bleekemolen.

Switzerland held off a charging China to complete the podium, Neel Jani keeping Congfu Cheng at bay, the British Formula 3 driver making his strategy of pitting later than his rivals work in the closing stages on fresher tyres. Great Britain had been third but suffered a puncture out of the pit-stop sequence, forcing them to stop an extra time as per regulations. Kerr eventually finished 17th.

Lapierre helped France to two solid points finishes in fifth place, with Ireland producing an impressive sixth after a storming drive by Adam Carroll from his lowly 18th starting position.

Brazil opened their scoring account in seventh thanks to Sergio Jimenez, with Germany, India and Italy rounding out the top ten scoring positions.

In the standings, the perfect double win has thus vaulted New Zealand into the lead of the championship, one point up on South Africa, while Great Britain and Netherlands share third place in the standings, six points behind New Zealand.

 

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