A1 Grand Prix debutant Darren Manning didn't get an easy time in his first A1 race at the Shanghai International circuit in China and had a tough time holding onto second place at the start of the sprint race from series champions France.

As the race settled it became A1 Team Mexico that proved to be the biggest challenger to the former F1 test driver but Manning held position and crossed the line to claim a podium finish on his first A1 outing, albeit some way behind runaway winner Malaysia.

Team Great Britain's eighth A1 podium was enough to seal third position in the overall standings, which was just as well because as has often been the case in the inaugural A1 championship, things didn't go to plan in the following feature race.

From the front row of the grid Manning held second place from the start-line and was pursuing Malaysia's Alex Yoong when an incident brought out the safety car and the team took the opportunity to take the mandatory pit stop.

Coming out in third after A1 Team Czech Republic had a flying stop, Manning was in hot pursuit for another podium place when the team was issued a penalty for a false start. Taking the 'drive through' cost time and Darren fought back as hard as possible climbing up to 14th when the flag dropped.

"In the first race I didn't have the pace of Malaysia and I was holding off a clinging Salvador [Duran/Mexico]," said Manning. "I got a good start in race two on new tyres but the observers thought I jumped it, one of those things, but that really spelt the end of the day. Looking at the whole weekend though it's great to have got the third in the Series for the team, which was the goal."

Reflecting on his first A1 Grand Prix race, Manning added; "It's been a great weekend. I think I acclimatised well. It was nice to be on the pace all weekend, to work with the team and to experience of A1 as a driver instead of a spectator. It's hectic but I've really enjoyed it and learnt a lot for (hopefully) my next drive."



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