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It’s A Front Row Start For Malaysia

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Posted 22 February 2009 - 06:50 PM


    Fast & Furious

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A1 Team Malaysia, with driver Fairuz Fauzy, will start tomorrow’s Feature race from the front row of the grid, after finishing second quickest in the qualifying session. The team will line up in ninth place for the morning Sprint race. These two top ten starts were well received by the team after serious engine issues threatened to heavily compromise the team’s qualifying sessions.

A1 Team Malaysia’s weekend started with engine problems in the Friday practice sessions and continued this morning when the team fired the engine up for morning practice.

For hours this morning the team reviewed all the relevant components and systems, finally reaching a position with the series engine supplier that the engine needed to be replaced. By the time this decision was reached the team ran the risk of not being able to qualify at all due the further hours of work required to install the new engine.

A new engine usually demands a series of installation laps, but with the team only able to be ready minutes before the start of qualifying they had to be content with a special dispensation to run only one installation lap before the start of the session.

Fairuz Fauzy, having missed his second hour of practice time was severely limited in track knowledge and the team had little time to focus on car performance due to the engine issues experienced. However, the Malaysian driver kept calm and put in a solid effort for his first run to lie 12th. He then improved to ninth position, his starting grid place for the Sprint race.

A1GP has introduced a PowerBoost feature in qualifying which was first trialled at the Sepang event. The PowerBoost button is made available for an entire lap of qualifying, and each team is allowed to use it for one of their four flying laps.

The Feature race qualifying session, with the better of two flying laps used to determine the grid positions, produced one of the best results of the season for the team through good fortune. Fauzy was lying seventh quickest after the first segment, and in the second segment the team opted to use the new PowerBoost feature. A great lap by Fauzy put the team second quickest with a few minutes of the session remaining. A large element of luck determined our final grid position for the Feature as there were 13 teams still to post lap times when the Brazilian team crashed causing the session to be red flagged, ending the session early and giving Malaysia a front row position for tomorrow’s Feature race.

Fauzy said after the session, “We had major engine problems and missed the morning practice session which was extremely frustrating for us all as we haven’t had much time to develop the setup or complete the usual installation laps. However, the team worked hard and I must thank them all for the efforts they made to make sure we could take part this afternoon. After all the setbacks we have been lucky to be rewarded with a front row position for tomorrow.”

Jack Cunningham, Chief Executive, A1 Team Malaysia, added, “After the incredibly difficult problems we had this morning with the engine, which at one stage meant we were facing not being able to qualify at all, we have finished the day in an extremely fortunate position. There is still a lot of hard work to be done well in to the night following the engine problems but I must say that after the bad luck we’ve experienced in the two previous race events it was time for “lady luck” to shine on us today. Tomorrow’s final results will be about sheer hard work both in the car and the garage following the extreme frustration of today and yesterday.”

The team will return to the track tomorrow for the two A1GP races. The 30 minutes Sprint race will take place tomorrow morning, with the 70 minutes Feature event later in the afternoon.

Jaime @ AW