Hot on the heels of compatriot Michael Ammerm?ller's Zhuhai success, it was the turn of Christian Vietoris to mount the top step of the rostrum in Taupo after speeding to feature race glory - a result that has reignited Germany's slow-starting title challenge.

The reigning champions - untouchable in 2006/07 - have had a distinctly low-key start to the present campaign, but the last two meetings have seen a complete turnaround in fortunes for Willi Weber's squad - and Vietoris knows it.

"I have felt a lot of pressure coming off me now that I have won for the first time," the G?nnersdorf ace confessed after beating Canada's Robert Wickens to the chequered flag by just over a second, despite admitting to not having driven flat-out. "The A1GP victory at Taupo feels great, in particular as we've won the feature race which is more difficult than the sprint race.

"We were only a few tenths off on Friday and we improved the car all weekend - it was a really good result. Sunday started well with second place in the sprint after a nice, fair fight with France and a battle with South Africa.

"In the feature race, it was the pit crew that helped me to overtake France - a big thanks to all the guys from David Sears Motorsport who have worked so well. I have to admit I wasn't driving at the limit because of vibrations coming from every set of tyres, but it was no problem; overtaking is particularly difficult at Taupo, so the win wasn't at risk when I decided to take it a bit easier.

"I didn't think this would happen before I came here; it's fantastic! After Michael won I also wanted to win, and now I have I want to race more in A1GP!"

Vietoris' runner-up spot in the sprint outing was achieved from fourth place on the grid, and by setting fastest lap along the way he sent out a warning signal for the longer, 50-lap feature race in the afternoon. Indeed, his feature success was cause for a further celebration, as at just 18 years, nine months and 19 days old the former German Formula BMW Champion became A1GP's youngest-ever race-winner by almost four months, and made A1 Team Germany the only outfit in the series to have triumphed with three different drivers. In a neat twist, the previous record for the youngest A1GP winner was held by the team's former driver, Nico H?lkenberg, victorious on his debut at Zandvoort in 2006.

What's more, the 28 points registered over the course of the weekend have helped to hoist the country up from eighth into fourth position in the championship standings, just 17 points adrift of new leader New Zealand - a fact not lost on Weber.

"This is simply great," the 65-year-old German enthused. "After Michael's win in China, the team has secured a back-to-back win in New Zealand with Christian. It shows our general driver choice was right, and our policy of nominating them for different events as well.

"Today's race has not only been won by strong performances on the track, though. The David Sears Motorsport team has done an excellent job in setting the car up and performing two brilliant pit-stops which helped Christian getting past France in the battle for the lead.

"Now we're back in the thick of the action. The title race is wide open, and A1 Team Germany's claim to defend its title has become much more realistic after a slow start to the season."

Youngest A1GP race-winners:

1. Christian Vietoris GER 18 years, 9 months, 19 days Taupo, 2008
2. Nico H?lkenberg GER 19 years, 1 month, 12 days Zandvoort, 2006
3. Adrian Zaugg RSA 19 years, 10 months, 27 days Zandvoort, 2006
4. Nelson Piquet Jnr BRA 20 years, 2 months, 0 days Brands Hatch, 2005
5. Sean McIntosh CAN 20 years, 8 months, 22 days Sentul, 2005
6. Salvador Duran MEX 20 years, 10 months, 6 days Laguna Seca, 2006
7. Nicolas Lapierre FRA 21 years, 6 months, 7 days Lausitz, 2005
8. Michael Ammerm?ller GER 21 years, 10 months, 2 days Zhuhai, 2007
9. Neel Jani SUI 22 years, 0 months, 3 days Dubai, 2005
10. Jonny Reid NZL 23 years, 2 months, 0 days Sentul, 2006

 

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