Timo Scheider was within five laps of a potential race victory in the A1 Grand Prix in South Africa, the Team Germany driver suffering a suspension failure from a third position which so easily could have translated to a win on the streets of Durban.

Scheider had adapted well to the challenges of the tight, bumpy and punishing street course, and had worked his way forwards after qualifying in twelfth place for the Sprint race. He made two places in the rolling start then moved forwards a further three places in the final laps of the half-hour race.

Starting from seventh for the longer Feature race Scheider once more made a good start to gain a place, then benefitted from a good pit stop call to put him behind Swiss driver Neel Jani on the road, Jani the leader of the drivers to have made their mandatory stop.

Schneider proved his pace and was able to pull away from the car of eventual race winner Jos Verstappen behind, but with just five laps to go Schneider suffered a suspension failure and retired in the wall.

"It's simply incredible! We just can't shake off our bad luck," said Scheider afterwards. "The whole team pulled together to keep improving the car's set-up during the practice sessions and we made up five positions in the sprint race. The feature race, as well, started in a promising way.

"The Supernova crew performed an excellent pit stop - many thanks to them from me. In the race the car was better than ever until the suspension suddenly broke at the exit of the chicane. Perhaps it suffered some kind of impact before when Basil Shaaban and my car slightly touched each other during the restart after the safety car phase."

To add insult to injury, Jani, who was up ahead of Scheider on the road, suffered from a brake problem, and Nelson Piquet who was leading the race at the time of Scheider's demise had yet to make his compulsory stop. Were it not for his retirement, Scheider could have won the race.

"Even if the result is disappointing: This weekend has given us more positive than negative experiences," said Team Germany boss, Willi Weber. "Timo drove two very good races, scored four points after all, and the whole crew worked together flawlessly. The team barely missed clinching its first podium position, which is definitely a pity."

 

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