Alex Yoong led from lights to flag to claim a maiden A1 Grand Prix series win for Team Malaysia at the final round of the World Cup of Motorsport in China.

Having turfed Great Britain's Darren Manning off pole position on Saturday, the former F1 and CART racer gave his contemporary no right to reply by easing away throughout the 15-lap encounter at Shanghai's new International Circuit, becoming the seventh different winner in eleven A1GP rounds in the championship's inaugural season.

"The car was good, but we knew the temperature was rising and were worried about the condition of the tyres," Yoong revealed afterwards, "Fortunately, after the start, I was able to conserve the tyres and still able to push at the end.

"Hopefully, I will be able to repeat this in the feature race, but it will be very competitive in the main race. The pit-stops will be crucial and it will be really important to look after the car."

Manning survived an early scare to bring the Team GB car home in second spot, finishing just ahead of Laguna Seca winner Salvador Duran and securing third place in the championship standings with one race to run.

"That was obviously the main goal for the team, and it has been a great weekend," Manning said, "I think I have acclimatised myself now.

"I didn't have the pace of Alex in the race, but I managed to fend off France and the charging Salvador.

"I'm not really used to this two race thing, but the second race will be more like I'm used to, a long race with strategy and pit-stops, so I think past experience will help me."

"It was really difficult to pass, we were managing to do similar times, but we had different set-ups on the cars, so we were faster on different parts of the track," Duran said of his battle with the Briton, "I did try really hard one time to get past but, when that didn't work, I knew I was done, as I had no more power boosts left. Hopefully, the next race will be different."

Series leaders France put pressure on from the start, trying everything possible to pass Great Britain and Malaysia ahead of them. From the approach to turn one, Alex Premat slipped the tricolour car between Malaysia and Britain through turns one and two, but the grid leaders held their positions and France fell back to its third place starting position out of turn three. It was the start of an unusually bad race for the French, who may have laid claim to the series title but were still under attack from the rest of the field throughout the race.

A collision between Switzerland and Canada saw early retirements from both, but Team Austria crossing the line in 17th at the end of lap two completed the 100,000th race mile for the A1 engine, demonstrating its reliability having nearly completed the first season without a single engine failure.

Michael Devaney took an impressive fourth place for Team Ireland, highlighted by a determined move on the new champions, while Premat also slipped back behind Jos Verstappen and Indonesia's Ananda Mikola - claiming his best result of the campaign - as well as the Czech Republic's Tomas Enge by the chequered flag.

While France and the Czech Republic continued to contest sixth place, Indonesia kept the pressure on the Netherlands for fifth. Verstappen's vast race experience did not make the defence of his position any easier and the dogged determination of Mikola eventually paid off. As technical problems brought an early end to the Dutch race, Indonesia was the first to head past before the orange car slowed on the track, and eventually pulled into the pits at the end of lap eleven.

The remaining points places were filled by New Zealand, Australia and Brazil, with South Africa and Pakistan just missing out on tenth after a close battle in the final stages. Ma Qinghua brought the Chinese car home in 17th place, ensuring that team-mate Tengyi Jiang will start ahead of Lebanon, the Netherlands, Austria, Canada and Switzerland in the feature event.

 

Comments

Loading Comments...