With many Pakistanis among the 100,000 people that lined the streets of Durban for South Africa's round of the A1 Grand Prix series, Adam Khan's injury could have been a major disappointment, but the understanding of the other 22 teams on the grid ensured that they at least has something to cheer..

Khan was injured in a crash during third practice on the all-new street circuit, with the high impact incident warranting a cautionary trip to hospital, where a CAT scan revealed no serious injury. However, doctors still suggested that Khan not participate, particularly as he was complaining of soreness in both his back and one hand.

Drastic measures were thus required to avoid disappointing the many Pakistani fans who had bought tickets for the event, especially as Pakistan were among the teams not to have a reserve driver on hand to contest Sunday's pair of races.

"Adam's injury was a huge blow to the team and its supporters and, having no reserve driver, we had to explore every possibility of racing the car," seat holder Arif Husain confirmed, "I had to make a balanced judgement, taking into account the time, effort and expense involved in getting our team to Durban, the stage of the series and how running no car could disappoint our growing number of fans and supporters.

"I approached the organisers of the series and the rest of the seat holders with the idea of racing the car with another driver, borrowed from the Italian team. We understood that, even if he drove well, we would not gain any points or prize money and would have to start from the pit-lane. To my delight, the support was overwhelming, and first to show their support was Team India, our closest rivals.

"All of us behind this series realise that, at this stage, we must do everything in our power not to disappoint the fans, sponsors and all those who are putting a huge effort into this fledgling series. I hope that our supporters will recognise the difficult choice we had to make under pressure."

Italy's reserve Enrico Toccacelo, who had raced in each of the preceding events for his home nation, quickly threw himself behind the plan and began working with the Team Pakistan engineers to try to familiarise himself with the car in the short time available. During the sprint race, he drove maturely and carefully to finish in eleventh place, lapping just one second off the fastest time set by Ireland's Ralph Firman.

Although the green-and-white Lola again had to start the hour-long Feature race from the pit-lane, rather than its earned eleventh spot, Toccacelo's experience took it into third place as other teams either made their pit-stops or had to retire. Under instructions from the stewards, the Italian eventually brought the Pakistan car in for its
mandatory stop and, a quick stop by the Super Nova-run team saw him rejoin in 14th place.

Making his way through the field with some ease after that, Toccacelo again gained ground, moving up to eleventh place before the Canada's Sean McIntosh was adjudged to have nudged him off track, finishing a highly eventful weekend for both teams.

"It has been a turbulent weekend that has shown strength and courage by all involved," Team Pakistan's general manager Luke Craft admitted, "Enrico has done a marvellous job and the team excelled. I am sure that all our followers will appreciate that any decision we took regarding a replacement driver ran the risk of upsetting some and disappointing others, but I think the majority will back our decision.

"We owe a vote of thanks to the other teams too, for their support and our own for working so well in this difficult situation."

 

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