Team GB is raring to go ahead of the new season of A1GP this weekend, with two experienced stars spearheading its line-up both confident they have what it takes to drive the squad to glory.

For 2006-07 Team GB has retained Robbie Kerr - who competed in the vast majority of the A1GP races in its inaugural campaign - while alongside him will be Darren Manning, who stood in for Kerr during the last round in China and came away with an impressive second place to round off the season in style.

The outfit ultimately scored eight podiums on its way to third position in the nations' standings - nothing to be ashamed of by any means - but with no victory to its name from 22 races the team's challenge ended on a somewhat unfulfilled note.

"We learned a lot last year," Kerr admitted to Crash.net. "There were lots of things we wanted to try on the car that we didn't really get chance to, but I'm really looking forward to getting back out there and representing the country again."

2005 marked the Leicestershire ace's return to the fray after a number of years out in the wilderness. He said being race-ready this time around - courtesy of a full season's competition in the World Series by Renault - would be a boon when the season got under way.

"We are going to some new places this year but it will definitely help being fresh from racing and able to get straight back into it," he explained. "It will be interesting to work with Darren, and it will be competitive out there. Engineers have moved around meaning secrets have been exchanged. We can't pre-judge anything until the first race, but we will be ready.

"It was very frustrating not to win a race last year. We have got to get that elusive first victory, and we will go out there and give it our all. I'm sure we will get there."

It will be Manning in the car for the first round at Zandvoort this weekend, and the Yorkshireman said he could not wait to get going after his brief taster of A1GP life earlier in the year.

"I wanted to drive the car as soon as the series got up and running," he told Crash.net. "When the season started last year I was still driving in the IRL over in America and couldn't get out of my contract to do any of the races, but then after I left the IRL I was able to take part in the last race in Shanghai. I enjoyed it and I'm glad to be involved again this year."

Manning said sharing the driving duties with Kerr would boost the team's chances, pointing to the French example of 2005-06 when GP2 stars Nicolas Lapierre and Alex Premat seamlessly led Les Bleus to 13 victories and the title.

"Having a team-mate to bounce ideas off and confirm set-ups during the season should work really well," he explained. "Robbie has a lot of experience in the car, and I've got a lot of experience with everything I've driven in my career.

"We are a strong team, and hopefully we can take the type of result we had in China through to a full championship, working together like France did last year."

Stressing the benefits of A1GP, the 31-year-old said it was an excellent opportunity for drivers to keep their hand in during the traditional off-season, when team managers in other categories are eyeing up potential new drivers.

"I'm not driving very much at the moment," he said, "so it's good to get something in before the proper season begins next year. I want to show I can still peddle a car round a track quickly.

"A1GP is a good chance for drivers to showcase their talents in a big, powerful car. There are some very good drivers out there, and if you can beat them you might get signed up for something good for the summer."

Quick in pre-season testing at Silverstone, the former Macau Grand Prix winner and Formula One test-driver said he had high hopes for Team GB's second assault on the series.

"It will be a lot more competitive," he said. "You saw already towards the end of last season how tight it was getting between the drivers.

"These cars are very different to anything else out there. They demand a very specific set-up, and some of the teams last year were very inexperienced and had only just started up themselves. Towards the end they had a lot more experience under their belts and were getting closer to the front.

"They saw last year what they would need to do this time around and have got more professional. I think it will be ultra-competitive all the way down the grid."

"There are a lot of good drivers competing and the series looks great," he added. "Hopefully we can go two places better than the third position in the championship Team GB achieved last year. We have got all the ingredients to win. We've just got to put it together."

Kerr concurred. Pressed on what his objective for the season ahead was, the 27-year-old was unequivocal: "The title," he said. "Simple as that."

 

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