A downcast Oliver Jarvis has acknowledged that Great Britain has now been all-but removed from contention for this season's A1GP World Cup of Motorsport laurels, after the nation's title chances were quite literally torpedoed in the Durban heat.

A strong performance throughout practice and qualifying saw Jarvis line up on the second row of the grid for both races, and an impressive run to ten points courtesy of the runner-up spot in the shorter sprint outing - ahead of championship leaders Switzerland - seemed to suggest a significant leap up the pecking order was in-store. That was not, however, how it would ultimately transpire...

Following a brilliant rolling start in the sprint to dart past both Switzerland and Brazil, the 24-year-old survived an involuntary early assault from Jonny Reid in the New Zealand entry heading into the tight and unforgiving first hairpin. Though his car sustained some sidepod damage, he was nevertheless able to hold Neel Jani off to the end of the race.

In the 70-minute feature event, Jarvis was again running well, up with the leading group of Switzerland, Canada and France, until Wickens - driving the wrong way down the track in his efforts to rejoin from a spin - smashed into the unsighted Cambridgeshire ace, breaking his front wing and leaving him down in eleventh position when the race was red-flagged not long afterwards.

"At the start [of the sprint race] I noticed everyone in front dive down the inside," the newly-signed Audi DTM star recounted, "so I thought I'd try my luck on the racing line. At one point I thought I was going to get the lead as I saw New Zealand drive into Canada - which caused Robert Wickens to come out wide and clip me - but I still managed to get round before New Zealand drove into the side of me, damaging the car quite a bit.

"From then on, I didn't really challenge for the lead as I wasn't totally comfortable with the car - I'm not sure if it was due to the damage or set-up - but I was happy with second, and it was great to get a good result on the board.

"We were absolutely gutted after the feature race. The team worked so hard this weekend and a lot of guys had been ill or struggling, plus we had to rush to get the car ready after the damage from the sprint.

"To race for an hour and be taken out was devastating for the team and myself. Hopefully we can make amends over the next three rounds and deliver some wins, particularly in our home round at Brands Hatch in May. Unfortunately though, it looks like our title hopes are over for this season."

Though Team GBR remains in sixth spot in the championship chase, it now lies some 48 points adrift of Switzerland, with three meetings left to run. The first of those will take place in Mexico City on the weekend of 14-16 March.

"We were very happy with the podium and scored some strong points," concluded team principal Katie Clements. "We were in a good position in the afternoon too, and having our feature race podium hopes taken away through no fault of our own is obviously not what we wanted.

"With South Africa our closest competitor in the championship, we had a good chance to move up to fifth after the feature race and, because of the accident, we have not been able to do that. Nevertheless, we had another strong weekend in terms of pace and performance, and we will carry that momentum to the next race in Mexico."

 

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