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A1 Team Malaysia Reflects On Taupo

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Posted 04 February 2009 - 10:30 AM


    Fast & Furious

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A1 Team Malaysia currently stands seventh in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport as the series heads to the midpoint of the season. With six top ten finishes from eight races it has been the best start to a season that the team has had so far. The most recent round was held in Taupo, New Zealand, where the team picked up two points in another highly competitive weekend of racing. Yet, it wasn’t without its problems for the Malaysian team.

On the opening day of the event, during Friday practice, there were braking issues for both rookie driver Aaron Lim and main driver, Fauzy. A1GP anticipated that the new carbon brake discs would have the necessary performance level for five race weekends, but Malaysia, as with many other teams, found that this wasn’t the case.

The team believes that a competitive advantage can be gained from regular replacements, following the experience in the practice sessions and were able to address this later in the weekend. The lap times posted by both drivers were undoubtedly affected by the brakes, but chief engineer, Alan Mugglestone also explains, “The first day on track was overshadowed by our braking problems, but we were also experimenting with different styles of setup and not fine tuning for outright speed. In addition, we didn’t have the speed in the first sector, but were able to work on this once data from the quickest lap was available to us.”

In qualifying Fairuz and the team were not able to extract the best from the session and so worked together to improve in this area, particularly as it is so critical on tracks like Taupo where overtaking opportunities are severely limited. This track characteristic certainly came to the fore in both races. Fauzy did not have the best of starts in either the Sprint or Feature event, which is not usually the case but having recovered and settled into the race, the pitstops also cost the team places. Wheel nut problems cost valuable time in one stop, but more expensive was the slow Australian car ahead in the pitlane as Fauzy exited from a stop. Conservative estimates were a loss of two places, although this could have been as many as four positions.

Reviewing the weekend Jack Cunningham, Chief Executive, says, “There’s no need for excuses, the facts we’ve analysed show that to be at the top you need everything working perfectly. In Taupo it didn’t quite come together for us. Some of this was of our own making and at other times it was outside of our control. When you are able to calmly and thoroughly review each session, it’s clear that we still have further improvements to make and like all the teams we strive for this at every opportunity. One of the challenges we face that impacts on this is budget. We’re not the team with the biggest budget and this is not ideal. It is a priority for us to achieve the financial investment we need to help us to keep improving.”

“I also think we need to put our performance in perspective. Last season we were struggling to score any points or finish in the top ten, but this season we’re not willing to accept that level of results, adding to the pressure we put on ourselves and the need to be on top of our game in every session. As we have improved, so have other teams, with the gaps between us and our rival nations becoming tighter and tighter, which also makes it so much harder.”

Mugglestone and Fauzy travel to Italy later this week to undertake further simulation work in preparation for the next event which takes place in Gauteng, South Africa in three weeks time.

Jaime @ AW