A1 Team New Zealand raced to its third Sprint race victory of the season in an incident-packed race at Mexico City's Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, moving up to second place in the championship as a result.

Jonny Reid held off Great Britain's Oliver Jarvis, who crossed the line second to secure a superb podium finish, while Switzerland took the final podium position, increasing its title lead as France failed to score any points.

The 22-car field was forced to reform on the grid for a second time after the scheduled start of the 20-minute race was red-flagged, with the eight teams involved in collisions at the rolling start sustaining damage to their cars.

Once the debris had been cleared from the track, the race finally got underway and the pack jostled for position heading into turn one. Pole-sitter South Africa's Adrian Zaugg held the lead while Jarvis moved up two places to snatch third, slotting in behind Reid and just ahead of Switzerland's Neel Jani.

Reid started to hunt down Zaugg and, by lap three, the 'Black Beauty' had taken control, snatching the race lead when the South African locked up and went straight on at turn one as a result of a slow puncture sustained at the start. The failure put the South African car out of the race.

A spinning Filip Salaquarda then brought the safety car out on lap five, the Czech Republic car stuck at the final turn, allowing the field to bunch up behind New Zealand. The action restarted on lap eight, but Reid immediately started to pull away from Jarvis, who was under pressure from Jani and had to defend.

"It has been a very difficult couple of rounds, especially in Durban, but that's motor racing and it's really good to bounce back here with a win - and survive the carnage at the first start," Reid reflected, "Adrian accelerated and braked and accelerated and braked, then Neel almost ran into the back of me and I think Olly ran up the back of someone as well so, having cleared the first corner, I was much more relaxed and then I could start working on Adrian. I managed to be the last of the late brakers into turn one and overtook him.

"Our focus is on the championship lead and we will do everything we can from P6 in the feature race. It's not where we deserve to start after the yellow flag in the last run in qualifying, but there are a few drivers in the same boat. You can still win the race from there that's for sure."

The Kiwi crossed the line ahead of Jarvis, collecting crucial championship points and moving New Zealand to within 15 points of leader Switzerland, which finished the race third.

"I'm not sure what happened with the powerboost, but it happened in the first start," Jarvis reported, "I only pressed the button once and then it used them all up, so maybe there's a small problem, but it meant I was under pressure from Neel. Fortunately I could get a bit of a gap in sector three, a bit of breathing space down the straight, but he did push me hard off the re-start."

The Briton won in Mexico last season, and is now targeting a repeat as he prepares to bow out of A1GP in favour of team-mate Robbie Kerr.

"I'd love to go out with a win this afternoon," Jarvis admitted, "It would be fantastic for myself and also for the team. The team really needs solid finishes so, if we can get a podium in the feature race, I'll be happy - but not as happy as I would be with a win."

Points leader Jani was satisfied with his third place, knowing that it had opened a gap over the non-scoring French, for whom Jonathan Cochet debuted.

"I think third was the maximum I could do today," Jani revealed, "I was struggling a little bit with the car, especially in the bumpy sections, and I just went for third spot. I just wanted to secure that. I tried at the re-start to get Olly, but it wasn't quite enough, but third place is okay for me."

China's Cong Fu Cheng, who collided with Malaysia's Alex Yoong on lap eight, picked up a bonus point for setting the fastest lap of the race.

 

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