Michael Ammerm?ller finally returned reigning A1GP champions Germany to the top step of the rostrum on the series' inaugural visit to the Zhuhai International Circuit, as home hero CongFu Cheng sent the crowd into delirium by coming home third.

Less than 24 hours on from capturing his maiden A1GP pole position at only his third attempt, Ammerm?ller saw off the ever-present attentions of the championship-leading Swiss machine driven by fellow front row starter Neel Jani to take the sprint race spoils. The GP2 refugee led all the way from lights-to-flag, eventually crossing the line six tenths of a second clear, to finally get Germany back on the winning trail again following a distinctly low-key start to the campaign.

"It was a very nice race," the 21-year-old affirmed, happy to have put all the controversies of his series debut in Malaysia three weeks ago behind him. "We did a good job yesterday in qualifying and we had a good start today. The car was very good and I didn't make any mistakes.

"The last race in Sepang wasn't so nice, but this time the start was a lot better and I'm happy. This afternoon will be more difficult as I'm starting from fifth position, but it's a longer race and lots can happen."

Jani was similarly pleased with his result, and hopeful of going one better in the 70-minute feature outing when it will be his turn to begin from the top spot.

"My start wasn't too bad," the Swiss ace recounted. "I got very close to Michael, but he defended well and I couldn't really get past him without taking any risks. In the end I just settled for second and picked up some good points, plus I got the extra point for the fastest lap.

"We're on pole position this afternoon which is a good starting point, but we will struggle with brakes towards the end of the race - as everybody will - so it's a just a question of who gets through the race with the least amount of problems."

Four seconds further back, the packed grandstands roared when local favourite Cheng made a sensational move past Ireland's Adam Carroll on lap ten to grab third place. The 23-year-old from Beijing went on to take the first podium finish of his A1GP career and China's first of the season.

"It was a great race and I want to say thanks to the crowd and to A1 Team China," said Cheng, visibly overwhelmed by all the support and encouragement he had received over the weekend. "It feels fantastic to deliver the first podium of the season for myself and for the team. The crowd was great and big thanks to the team. I'm speechless!"

Tomas Enge (Czech Republic), Oliver Jarvis (Great Britain), Narain Karthikeyan (India), Loic Duval (France), Jeroen Bleekemolen (Netherlands) and Jonny Reid (New Zealand) completed the top ten at the flag, after the latter collided in the race's closing stages with Canada's Robert Wickens, who had made a brave move past the Kiwi on lap four.

Five of the 22 cars on the grid were involved in an opening lap collision, with Ian Dyk (Australia), Sergio Jimenez (Brazil) and Adrian Zaugg (South Africa) tangling at turn four and Chris Alajajian (Lebanon) running off into the gravel, bringing out the safety car for three laps. Alex Yoong (Malaysia) was also forced out of the action due to a puncture sustained from running over debris caused by the incident.

 

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