Switzerland's Neel Jani was delighted to break France's vice-like grip on the top step of the A1 Grand Prix podium in Sunday's sixth round of the championship in Dubai even though the feature event didn't go as planned for the 22 year-old driver.

Jani, who only turned 22 on the Thursday of race week, broke France's eight race win streak with a lights to flag sprint race victory at the Dubai Autodrome on Sunday, crossing the line with a dominant eight second margin over runners-up Italy.

"I'm incredibly happy to have taken my first win of the season," commented Jani. "It's a nice birthday present. We finally got the car as we wanted today and I didn't make any mistakes. We got it all together for the sprint race and towards the end, I could enjoy a bit of a cushion I had built up over my rivals. I'm really happy to with the ten points for a win and to have taken our team's total to 75 points having also recorded the fastest lap."

Switzerland's maiden A1 Grand Prix win came one day after Jani planted the Swiss car on pole for the opening race and his sprint win translated into another pole position for the 30-lap feature outing.

However after taking the lead, Team Switzerland were caught out by the early intervention of the safety car, which was called after Jani and second place runner Italy had passed pit entrance but before the rest of the field had passed the point of no return.

In addition to making his mandatory tyre stop one lap later than the rest of the field, something that in itself dropped Jani to almost stone last, the team was also issued with a pit lane speeding penalty, which left Jani languishing in 17th position when the chequered flag fell at the end of 30 laps.

Despite his failure to score in the main race, Jani's sprint win keeps Switzerland comfortably in second place in the overall standings with 75 points, 31 behind France. The fact that his country has also broken its A1 Grand Prix win duck also helped sooth Jani's feature race disappointment.

"In the feature race I started from pole, but had a much tougher time. I had a good strategy and waited for the second safety car to pit. The potential and the speed were there, but we lost some valuable time with a drive through penalty. Unfortunately we lost it there, and I wasn't able to fight back. I finished in a disappointing 17th place, which does not reflect our potential. I am really happy to have scored valuable points in the first race today!"

Max Welti, team principal of A1 Team Switzerland commented: "I am extremely proud of Neel. He did a fantastic job. I have never been happier in my life for a long time. Neel was unlucky in the feature race after an excellent start when it all looked good, but that's motor racing."

 

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