As Canada gears up to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday on Monday, Vancouver's Sean McIntosh put in a barnstormer of a performance on Sunday at Germany's EuroSpeedway to celebrate Team Canada's first podium finish in just the second round of the inaugural A1 Grand Prix Series.

The 20-year-old's third place finish in the 35-lap feature race, together with his seventh place performance in the earlier sprint race, launched Team Canada up to eighth overall in the point standings from a total of 25 countries competing in 'The World Cup of Motorsport'.

A top ten regular throughout Friday's practice sessions on the 4.53km EuroSpeedway in Lausitz, McIntosh's rapid education behind the wheel of the 520bhp Lola-Zytek was beginning to pay dividends. While unfortunate to miss out on a top ten starting slot through Saturday's aggregate qualifying sessions, 13th on the grid for the 18-lap sprint race was a satisfactory outcome given both Sean and the team's last-minute entry into the A1 Grand Prix Series last month.

The sprint race's rolling start saw McIntosh caught mid-pack on the charge to the first turn but some mature driving from the Team Canada pilot ensured he stayed on-track while some of his rivals over-committed. Straight into the top ten McIntosh quickly picked up two more positions as Team USA's Scott Speed and Team Great Britain's Robbie Kerr clashed over the same piece of tarmac.

From there he hooked up to the rear-wing of Alex Yoong in the Team Malaysia entry but the former F1 racer defended his line and position aggressively despite having the slower of the two cars. At the end of the sprint McIntosh took the chequered flag seventh overall collecting four more points to add to the two he scored on his A1 debut at Brands Hatch two weeks ago.

More importantly McIntosh's seventh place finish translated into a seventh place grid slot for the feature race, complete with standing start and mandatory pit stop.

An early pit stop proved to be the key to Team Canada's feature success as McIntosh pitted just a handful of laps into the 35-lap run. Having dropped a couple of places at the start and faced with the danger of being held up, the pit-stop enabled Sean to get back out onto a clear race track and bang out some fast lap times with fresh rubber beneath him.

While the move initially dropped him down the running order, Sean picked off places as his rivals pitted later in the race. Before long he moved into the top ten and he gradually climbed his way to an impressive third overall.

A safety car period with 13-laps remaining bunched the field back up and when racing resumed Sean had to fend-off some serious podium advances from Jonny Reid driving for Team New Zealand. Belying his lack of experience in an A1 car, Sean simply soaked up the pressure in third despite Reid's constant challenge on a fresher set of tyres to secure his maiden A1 GP podium..

"I'm delighted to have scored Canada's first podium finish in A1 Grand Prix competition," reflected McIntosh. "We were aiming for another top ten in today's feature race so to come away with a top three finish is a great feeling. I have to say the team did a great job in the pits, the call to come in early was absolutely spot on and their pit work was phenomenal! No sooner had I come in then, 'boom', I was gone again!

"From there I was pretty much out on my own, enjoying the clean air and able to bang out some solid lap times. I used up my tyres quite a bit which really allowed Team New Zealand to attack at the end as they pitted for rubber later in the race but I hung on for the podium. It's a great result, we're constantly learning and now we can take the confidence from Germany and build on it next time out in Portugal."

 

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