Team Malaysia may have suffered a trying weekend in the first round of the new A1GP season at Zandvoort, but the squad at least came away with the consolation of having proved it will be a threat in races to come.

After qualifying inside the top ten, Alex Yoong went on to register a solid 12th place finish in the sprint race, earning himself 11th on the grid for the all-important feature, based on his finishing position, qualifying position and lap times in the sprint.

The ex-grand prix star's bid to improve on his sprint performance, however, was nearly over before it had even begun, as the 30-year-old - one of the veterans in the A1GP field - was forced to take swift avoiding action after Sebastien Buemi in the Team Switzerland car stalled directly in front of him on the feature race parade lap.

Unfortunately, in trying to get around the Swiss machine Yoong clipped his front wheel against it and broke a front wishbone. He was able to reach the pits and, after rapid repairs, rejoin the race, but by this time he was four laps down and with the sole aim of completing the distance to try and gain as much data as possible for the next week race in the Czech Republic. To show what might have been, Yoong also set fastest lap along the way, an encouraging sign of the squad's potential over the remainder of the season.

"In the first race we were struggling with understeer which was a problem we had for much of the weekend," he explained afterwards, "but we made some changes after the sprint and the car felt much better.

"I think we would have been reasonably quick and competitive in the feature, but I made a mistake on the grid and effectively threw it all away. At the start of the parade lap the car in front of me stalled and trying to get round I clipped the back of it and broke my car's wishbone.

"The guys did a great job to get me back out only losing four laps, but we had lost too much time. On a positive note, we recorded the races fastest lap, so we know we do have a competitive car."

Team Malaysia chief executive Jack Cunningham was also buoyed by his outfit's promising showing over the weekend, something he believed augured well for a strong season ahead.

"I'm pleased we took away the fastest lap in the feature race," he said, "as it gives us some indication that we have the car and the performance to be a challenger in this series this season.

"It's unfortunate that the grid problem changed our prospects, but we used the race wisely, giving Alex a race distance, which will help us in our preparations for the next race in Brno in a week's time."

 

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