Driving for Team France, CRM driver Loic Duval entered Round 7 of this season’s A1GP championship, held at Eastern Creek, Australia over the February 2-4 weekend. The circuit, located on the outskirts of the country’s biggest centre of commerce, Sydney, featured a 3.93-klilometre track sporting 12 corners. The circuit is historically significant as it played host to the motorcycling Australian GP in the past.

Official Qualifying, held on the Saturday, comprised a total of four sessions. From those, the two fastest laps are calculated, determining the Grid for Sunday’s first event, the Sprint Race. Loic attacked convincingly, netting 2nd-quickest time overall.

However, the times of the lead group comprised a fierce battle, and were so close throughout that Duval’s combined tally of 2:36.711 wound him up in fourth place. With the top position recorded by Team Germany at 2:36.225, the narrow margin was clearly evident as less than half a second (0.486) filled the first two rows.

Sunday morning was the scene of the 14-lap Sprint Race. Loic remained in his grid position of 4th for the majority of the race (11 laps). Then on lap 12, he rose to third, a position he would keep to the flag. Team Germany’s Nico Hulkenberg took the win, with New Zealand’s Jonny Reid second. Expectations were high for the Feature.

Unfortunately, a delay at the start of the long race (46 laps) meant Loic went into the first corner in fifth place. By lap nine he was up to third, but after the mandatory pit stop, returned in 14th. From here a massive push saw the French flyer rise to 9th – a position in which he would cross the finish line. The result means that Team France fall behind Team New Zealand to third, though it is by the slimmest of margins – a mere 5 points.

Loic Duval:
“The start of the long race was tough as a little too much acceleration meant I slid. That cost me two positions. I wasn’t worried though as I knew those two eventually went off. It was the pit stop that caused the most delay. After that, I had to fight and claw my back up to 9th. That took an unbelievable effort. To say I’m disappointed isn’t the half of it!”

A1 Team France Director Eric Boullier:
“Loic drove a superb race in the Sprint. He succeeded in passing the Team Great Britain car of Robbie Kerr by using the Safety Car to take third place. After getting off to a slow start in the Feature, he ran fifth for a long while. There was confusion in the race, brought on by the Safety Car, though the unpredictable trouble in the pits cost us seven positions. Regretfully we’ve dropped to third in the championship standings as a result, behind Germany and New Zealand.