Narain Karthikeyan sent his nation into the A1GP record books by triumphing in the feature race in Zhuhai, seeing off the challenge of Jonny Reid in the New Zealand entry to catapult India up the nations' standings into the top ten.

In so doing, the 30-year-old sealed both his and his country's maiden series success at its 52nd attempt, at the end of an incident-packed outing in China. Starting from third position, Karthikeyan grabbed the lead off 'Black Beauty' - all the way up from tenth on the grid - during the second pit-stop window on lap 29 and, having coped with a significant amount of pressure, crossed the line just over half a second clear 16 laps later.

"The team has been working really hard at pit-stop practices," the former grand prix star explained, "and they've done a really good job this weekend. Both the pit-stops were excellent and we got ahead; unfortunately I got stuck behind Pakistan on my out-lap so I couldn't push, but I came out just ahead of Jonny. There was a lot of pressure towards the end, but then his tyres went off as well as mine and we were equal - after that I just got the job done."

"It was a fantastic team effort," added an equally delighted Reid, after claiming New Zealand's third podium finish of the 2007/08 campaign, and one that has helped to close the gap on second-placed France in the nations' title chase to just a single point. "Obviously I'm very pleased to come from P10 on the grid and having struggled in qualifying to threaten for the win in the end.

"It's a credit to the team. My in-laps were good, my out-laps were good and there were a few mistakes from my side of the fence, so overall I'm very pleased with the whole team this weekend - a fantastic effort!"

Zaugg also enjoyed a strong race to mount the final step on the rostrum, four seconds down the road and having started from ninth on the grid. The result marked the 21-year-old's first top-three finish since his double podium in the opening meeting at Zandvoort back at the end of September, and though he found himself under attack from sprint race victor Michael Ammerm?ller during the last ten laps of the race, he pushed hard to hold the German rookie off to the chequered flag.

"I was quite surprised myself that we had the pace to finish on the podium," Zaugg admitted afterwards. "We were quite strong from the beginning of the race and passed quite a few people - Great Britain was one of them. He (Oliver Jarvis) made a slight mistake into the second-to-last turn, so I got a good run down the straight and passed him into the last turn. It was really good racing."

Jarvis would ultimately finish just three tenths behind Ammerm?ller in fifth, having earlier snatched the advantage at the start from second on the grid. Sergio Jimenez (Brazil), Adam Carroll (Ireland), Robert Wickens (Canada) and the luckless Alex Yoong (Malaysia) - who completed just one racing lap all weekend - were all involved in an incident behind the leaders at turn one on the opening tour, bringing out the safety car for four laps.

Fast work in the pits during the first pit-stop window allowed pole-sitter and sprint race runner-up Neel Jani (Switzerland) to regain the lead as they rejoined the fray, whilst Jarvis fell back to sixth place. Both would subsequently encounter delays in the second round of stops due to technical issues, with Jani losing out the most as he slipped down the order to sixth. Jarvis at least had the consolation of picking up a bonus point by setting the race's fastest lap to show what might have been.

Frenchman Loic Duval ultimately wound up seventh after being hit with a drive-through penalty on lap 16 as a result of his team releasing the car unsafely from its first pit-stop. As he drove past the USA pit box, the 25-year-old caught the hose connected to one of the airguns, causing a Team USA mechanic to be pulled to the ground.

Tomas Enge - making his A1GP race return for the Czech Republic after an absence of ten months - had a superb afternoon as he stormed up from 16th on the grid to finish a solid eighth, firing his country up the nations' standings into 13th spot level with Canada.

Home hero CongFu Cheng - who had earlier taken a superb and immensely popular rostrum finish in the sprint race - was running in sixth place on lap 31 after the second round of pit-stops, only to receive a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pit-lane that dropped him down to tenth. The gritty British F3 National Class ace was determined not to give up, though, charging back past Jonathan Summerton in the 'We The People' car with five laps remaining to finally cross the line ninth and pick up two valuable championship points.

The Netherlands' Jeroen Bleekemolen was forced out of the action on lap nine due to a puncture caused by suspected suspension failure at the final corner, whilst twelfth-placed Joao Urbano (Portugal) received a drive-through penalty on lap five for making a false start.

Following the Chinese weekend, Switzerland has extended its series lead over France to 19 points, with New Zealand just one more point adrift in third and Great Britain, South Africa and the Netherlands completing the top six.

The championship now takes a five-week break before heading to New Zealand for round five in Taupo, marking the first race of the New Year on 18-20 January.

 

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