Robert Wickens may have failed in his efforts to make it two wins out of two in Durban this weekend, but it was still impossible to wipe the smile off the Canadian's face after he had stormed to his nation's breakthrough A1GP sprint race success.

The 18-year-old rookie has shown impressive form every time out in the maple leaf entry this season, and his stand-out performances have helped hoist Canada up from nowhere into eighth position in the title standings with three rounds remaining. On Saturday he became the World Cup of Motorsport's youngest-ever pole-sitter, and just a day later he converted that promise and potential into victory.

Wickens led the sprint outing from lights-to-flag, coping consummately with not only the challenging South African street circuit, but also an assault from Jonny Reid behind the wheel of Black Beauty into the first corner and late-race pressure from both Great Britain's Oliver Jarvis and championship leader Switzerland's Neel Jani. The result marked his country's second A1GP triumph, following that registered by compatriot Sean McIntosh in the Indonesian feature race during the series' inaugural 2005-06 campaign.

He had his sights set on a second straight success in the longer feature event, hounding Jani mercilessly for the lead, until an incident whilst lapping backmarker Khalil Beschir in the Lebanese machine on lap 40 brought an abrupt end to his charge. Attempting to avoid contact with the slower car on the exit of the notoriously tricky turn one hairpin, the steering input snapped Wickens around and spun him into the wall. Upon attempting to rejoin the fray, he was then ploughed into by the unsighted Jarvis following behind.

"Obviously the sprint win was an awesome result for the whole team," the Toronto native enthused afterwards, "and we were hoping for more of the same in the feature. We've had a strong weekend, but we should have had at least second place in the feature.

"I was going to run into Lebanon on the exit, so I put a lot of steering into the car, just clipped the inside wall and spun around. I apologise to Great Britain. We didn't get the result we wanted, and I feel bad for the team as they've been nothing short of outstanding all weekend!"

"When we took Canada under our wing six months ago we aimed to elevate the team onto the podium," added Mark Gallagher, whose Status Grand Prix operates the squad, "and today we took a victory after yesterday's pole position. This weekend showed that the technical crew headed by Simon Cayzer is top-notch, and that Robert is a special talent which the Canadian motorsport community and his sponsors at Red Bull should be very proud of.

"Similarly Wade Cherwayko's three years of investment in Canadian motorsport in A1GP should be recognised for the opportunity it has given to drivers like Robbie, James Hinchcliffe and Daniel Morad. It's a shame that the feature didn't result in another podium, but we now look forward to Mexico and another strong weekend!"

 

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