Germany have strengthened their lead at the top of the A1 Grand Prix standings with a simple victory over France and New Zealand in another typically uneventful sprint race at Taupo.

With the drivers again looking towards protecting a good starting position for the more lucrative feature race, there was little chance for the leading driverrunners to do anything other than settle for what positions they held at the end of the first lap.

Not that Loic Duval wasn't putting the effort in, the Frenchman hassling Hulkenberg over the first few laps before eventually slipping back as the German pumped in a series of fastest laps to finish almost four seconds up the road.

Duval had caused confusion at the start when he lined up on the wrong side of the grid for the rolling getaway, the start being aborted as a result.

Nonetheless, the field got away at the second time of asking with Germany leading France, New Zealand, Netherlands and Switzerland, the top five proving a class apart as they fought to keep up with one another.

However, rather confirming driver suspicions that the circuit would be tough to overtake on, the final top five positions would eventually mirror that of the grid, with little other jostling for position going on further down the field.

Nonetheless, there were some changes to the finishing order, albeit due to the misfortune of others, with James Hinchcliffe claiming the final point for sixth place, ahead of Alan van der Merwe, the South African doing an impressive job from eleventh on the grid.

It was Great Britain's Robbie Kerr though that provided the race some much needed entertainment, with a stunning display of defensive driving throughout the 14 lap race. Indeed, Kerr actually collided with Malaysia during the aborted start and had persevere with a damaged car for the rest of the race.

Although unable to hold off Canada and South Africa, Kerr highlighted Taupo's lack of overtaking opportunities by holding Italy's Enrico Toccacelo at bay, leading home a train of some eight cars that crossed the finish line just four seconds apart.

These included India, who recorded their first ever top ten finish, even if a chance at points was ended by Karthikeyan's tardy rolling start, USA, Mexico, China, Australia, Indonesia and Brazil, the latter car of Raphael Matos having run as high as eighth before spinning to the back of the field.

There was also heartbreak for Richard Lyons, who was putting pressure on Kerr in eighth before he succumbed to gearbox woes and was forced to retire. Lebanon and Singapore would also fail to finish following accidents at the start of the race.

 

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