'More hits than Elvis,' that's what A1 Team New Zealand reckoned the Kiwi car with Matt Halliday on driving duties had enduring at the eighth round of the championship at the Indonesia circuit of Sentul.

Despite the action-packed day's racing, the Kiwis maintained their fifth place in the championship standings and reckon they can stuill fight for third in the overall honours as the series in its debut season nears its conclusion.

Halliday drove the WSR-run Lola, titled 'Black Beauty' to eighth in the Sprint race, after starting from tenth on grid, and had to drive his way back through the field from last to earn seventh in the Feature race.

"I got chopped by the Mexican car on the first lap, lost the front nose cone, punctured a tyre and developed some serious vibration in the front of the car," Halliday explains.

"I thought losing time and ending up at the back of the field with a battered car was bad enough, but when the French car used me as their brakes and pushed me off the track, it took some serious work to get back into the top ten again."

Halliday's haul of seven points was off the tally set by Malaysia's Alex Yoong with 16 points from the weekend, but the Kiwi driver was relieved and happy to claw his way back from misfortune.

"All in all, it was a good effort to get the number of points we did. When our car wasn't banged up it was feeling pretty quick and we still have time to make a move on the pace-setters in the final three rounds."

It was a case of 'Black and Blue Beauty' after the race when the New Zealand team found the on-track scuffles had done more damage than originally feared.

The first incident bent the left steering arm which made it difficult for Halliday to keep the car in a straight line. The second bash, from behind, completely broke the rear wing's lower plane, damaged the diffuser and mangled the rear body.

A1 Team.NZL chief executive Bob McMurray says the car has never been so beaten up.

"It's had more hits than Elvis," McMurray said. "We're staggered we even finished the second race, let alone collected points."

France (132 points) and Switzerland (104) have further strengthened their hold on the top two places on the championship standings, but Great Britain (68) is now just two points behind Brazil (70) in the race for third, with New Zealand (61) not far behind.

McMurray says the jockeying for places behind the top two teams is thrilling and he is pleased the Kiwis are still within striking distance of third place.

"With Portugal finishing out of the points this weekend there's now more of a buffer between us and sixth place, but it's going to be a bunfight for places three through to nine and the final finishing order is very much up in the air," McMurray said.



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