Team France have maintained their iron grip on the A1 Grand Prix championship around the streets of Durban in South Africa, with their tenth win of the year in the sprint race.

Despite a slow start to the weekend in practice, Team France, with Alexandre Premat on driving duties, assumed their place at the head of the field by taking pole position for the first race, something which they then converted into victory.

However, it was not a simple lights-to-flag win, with a late lunge by Team Holland's Jos Verstappen almost placing both drivers out of the race. As it happens, Verstappen spun down to 16th place, while Premat nursed his car over the finish line to record a comfortable victory.

"We were strong in warm up which gave us plenty of confidence for the rest of the day," said Pr?mat. "The sprint race was trouble-free until the last lap when Jos Verstappen hit my rear-left wheel. Luckily the damage was not too serious and the team could fix it in time for the feature race."

The second race did not go France's way though despite starting the race on pole position for the second time. Indeed, at the lights it was Neel Jani who got the break, jumping from third into the lead by the first corner for Switzerland.

Circulating in a comfortable second place, Premat was later given a drive-through penalty after his pit-stop, dropping him further down the order and leaving him a lacklustre seventh place by the end of the race.

"In the feature race I didn't have such a good start, and Neel Jani took advantage of this coming side by side with me," Pr?mat added. "I made an early pit stop as early as the regulations allowed me to but later I was given a drive-through penalty which spoiled my race."

"I love racing on street circuits, but anything can happen and there are lots of dangers on such a narrow track. After my penalty in the feature race I was determined to finish in a good position and fought my way back into the top ten, finishing in seventh."

With Nicolas Lapierre set to take over in Indonesia, France's 14 points mean they remain the clear leader in the championship, with only Switzerland, whose third and second place closed the gap slightly to 27 points, seeming to have any chance of catching their rivals with four rounds to go.

 

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