Ireland wins again and takes title
|By Charles Bradley||Sunday, May 3rd 2009, 15:53 GMT|
Adam Carroll crowned Team Ireland as A1GP season four champion at Brands Hatch with feature race victory on Sunday.
Carroll dominated the race from pole position, holding off Monaco's Clivio Piccione into Paddock Hill Bend on the opening lap and leading almost every lap on his way to a 10-second victory. Ireland joins France, Germany and Switzerland as a World Cup of Motorsport winner.
Neel Jani's third place, despite a broken exhaust, guaranteed the runner-up spot in the title standings for Switzerland. Filipe Albuquerque of Portugal, the other country with a shot of victory overall, finished third in the standings, three points behind the Swiss.
After holding off fellow front-row starter Piccione, Carroll had to contend with a couple of laps behind the safety car after a first corner clash between JR Hildebrand (USA) and Franky Cheng (China) took out sprint race runner-up Narain Karthikeyan (India).
When the race restarted, Hildebrand turned out to be the only real thorn in Carroll's side, as the Irish driver twice caught him to try to lap him, which caused his pace to suffer both times. But once ahead, after the second mandatory pitstop, Carroll cruised to a comfortable victory.
Jeroen Bleekemolen took second for the Netherlands, jumping ahead of Piccione in the opening round of pitstops. Piccione slipped to fifth at this point, also leaking places to Jani and Albuquerque with that tardy first stop.
Carroll extended a 7.6s lead after his first stint, but Bleekemolen chipped away and narrowed it back to 4.4s before the second round of stops. Carroll lost a little more time there, as he couldn't be released due to a queue of cars coming into the pits, but still rejoined well clear in the lead.
His final run of the season was a simple task, apart from the difficulty of lapping Hildebrand.
"I was close enough to be in his dirty air, but there were no blue flags and his pace was good, so it was a bit frustrating," said Carroll, who waved his fist a couple of times and had to be calmed down over the radio. "He could've let me past, but didn't."
Bleekemolen finished well clear of outgoing champion Jani, who admitted: "This was very difficult weekend, but I was happy to find some pace in the feature despite the broken exhaust. We found some pace finally, but unfortunately we didn't find it earlier this weekend."
Piccione jumped back ahead of Albuquerque at the final round of pitstops to claim fourth, and only failed by 0.7s to depose Jani from the final spot on the podium.
Mexico's Salvador Duran finished sixth, ahead of Britain's Dan Clarke, who showed some excellent pace and set one of the race's fastest laps despite being another to suffer a broken exhaust. In a race of little overtaking, his pass on Australia's John Martin at Paddock was a highlight.
Pos Driver Team Time 1. Adam Carroll Ireland 1h04m14.970s 2. Jeroen Bleekemolen Netherlands + 10.156s 3. Neel Jani Switzerland + 13.564s 4. Clivio Piccione Monaco + 14.293s 5. Filipe Albuquerque Portugal + 16.484s 6. Salvador Duran Mexico + 21.810s 7. Dan Clarke Great Britain + 23.409s 8. John Martin Australia + 24.493s 9. Vitantonio Liuzzi Italy + 46.004s 10. Nicolas Prost France + 49.094s 11. Alan van der Merwe South Africa + 1m13.905s 12. Daniel Morad Lebanon + 1m16.257s 13. Satrio Hermanto Indonesia + 1 lap 14. JR Hildebrand USA + 1 lap Retirements: Aaron Lim Malaysia 27 laps Michael Ammermuller Germany 26 laps Earl Bamber New Zealand 6 laps Cheng Cong Fu China 0 laps Narain Karthikeyan India 0 laps Felipe Guimaraes Brazil 0 laps