Robbie Kerr took a third podium place of the A1 Grand Prix season for Team Great Britain in the sprint race at Sepang, but recurring brake problems and a troubled pit-stop meant that the Malaysian weekend ended in disappointment.

Having qualified fourth fastest in Saturday's tropical conditions, Kerr was up front and challenging hard right from the start of race one, gaining a couple of coveted places on the first lap as Irish rival Ralph Firman collected, and momentarily delayed, the all-conquering French car of Alex Premat.

Premat wasted little time in finding a way onto Kerr's tail, however, and the pair enlivened the chase of early leader Neel Jani with a dice that saw them change places on a couple of occasions.

"At the start, I decided to go to the inside but, as I was attempting to pull alongside Neel, he closed the door, which was unfortunate ?EUR" otherwise we could have been battling for the lead," Kerr reported, "Going into the first corner, I was happy to come out in third and then, going up to corner four, I saw France and Switzerland touch. I hoped that Neel might have a problem from the contact, but he didn?EUR(TM)t. To get past France was a lucky move, but I had to keep my head down to try to get away because I knew he?EUR(TM)d be fast."

Having run side-by-side through turns one and two starting the fourth lap, Premat finally capitalised on a mistake by Kerr to secure second position.

"Alex was close up behind for a long time, but we could hold them back," the Briton insisted, " A couple of times we switched positions, but then I ran wide with a slight problem with the brakes ?EUR" a long brake pedal with no real feel to it - and an understeer problem. We were slow into most bends, and he took advantage of that."

With Premat quickly pulling away, and eventually going on to take France's seventh successive win, Kerr found himself in no man's land, with no chance of catching Jani for second, and no real pressure coming from behind, so he settled for the third step of the podium and a second row start for race two.

After Premat had put a strong move on Jani at the start, Kerr slipped into second place and held the gap to the leader at around two seconds until becoming embroiled in a battle with the Swiss car that closely resembled that with France earlier in the day, Jani eventually slipping through at turn eleven after several corners where the cars ran together.

"We were strong upfront until the front tyres began to go away and brought on a recurrence of the brake problem," Kerr admitted, "It was starting to be a struggle to keep the car consistent, especially with Switzerland really applying the pressure."

The British team appeared set for another podium, only for a troublesome wheelnut to intervene at the mandatory pit-stop. In all, Kerr was stationery for almost two minutes - by far the longest stop of the race - and dropped well down the order. Even though he tried to make up ground, the Team GB machine was far from healthy, and eventually stranded him by the roadside.

"It was a great disappointment, but we were in a strong position and know what we need to do to make the car go faster," the driver concluded, "What we?EUR(TM)ve learnt is definitely going to help in Dubai, with the nature of the corners there, and I?EUR(TM)m already looking forward."

 

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