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Category: A1GP

Vitantonio LiuzziVitantonio Liuzzi experienced a troubled start in the first practice session for the final event of the 2009 A1 Grand Prix Of Nations. The Italian, at his second start with his Nation’s team, managed by former F1 star Piercarlo Ghinzani, suffered from brake troubles. On the Kent racetrack, in its longer Grand Prix configuration, Liuzzi tried to climb up the order with an unstable car, but eventually ended his day with an off-track excursion that damaged the right front suspension. The day ended on the spot for Vitantonio, who’ll be back on-track tomorrow morning for the final practice session. Starting at 2:15 PM, Qualifying will set the grid for Sunday’s races.

Vitantonio Liuzzi – Team Italy
“We suffered from a problem to the braking system, that was acting only on the rear wheels. The same issue caused the contact with the retaining barriers. The main problem is having lost half an hour that could have proved really useful in setting up the car. Before the issue though, we were off to a good start. The car’s balance seems optimized compared to Portimao, and we’re not beaten down by the setback suffered today. Brands Hatch is a really difficult and technical racetrack, somehow old-school and very bumpy. In many corners there is just one possible line, and that might prevent from passing, but it’s nice to make a jump in the past sometimes…”

A name that stands for American racing royalty will join forces with A1GP World Cup of Motorsport for Season Four. Andretti Green Racing (AGR), the most successful team in Indy Racing League history, announced today it will run the US entry in A1GP beginning at Circuit Park Zandvoort, The Netherlands this weekend.

“We are very proud to be representing the United States on the level and competitive playing field that is provided by A1GP,” said team co-owner, Michael Andretti. “Andretti Green has been fortunate to enjoy a reasonable amount of success in just six seasons of operation and we’re looking forward to joining the world stage of A1GP.”

Andretti, who is a racing legend himself, will be on hand at Circuit Park Zandvoort to announce the team’s Season Four driver lineup.

Andretti Green Racing, which is owned by Andretti and partners Kim Green and Kevin Savoree, has taken three IndyCar Series championship titles (2004, 2005, 2007), two Indianapolis 500 wins (2005, 2007), one Firestone Indy Lights championship (2008), an overall American Le Mans Series (ALMS) victory at the 2008 Detroit Sports Car Challenge and an LMP2 class victory at the ALMS 12 Hours of Sebring (2007).

A1GP Chairman, Tony Teixeira, commented: “We are proud to have such a successful and well respected team involved with our series. Over the years some of the most famous names in motorsport have been associated with the A1GP, and to have one that is synonymous with racing at its highest level in the United States can only help to raise the profile of the series both there and worldwide. ”

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.

Representing his home country France, CRM driver Loic Duval took part in Round 6 of this season’s A1GP as the series visited the Taupo circuit in New Zealand over the January 19-21 weekend.

Using control chassis and engines (Lola Zytec 3.4 litre V8), and bespoke Cooper tyres, the ‘World Cup of Motorsport’, which began in 2005, features a two-race format comprising of a Sprint race (the grid determined by Saturday Qualifying) and a Feature, whose grid is decided by the Sprint race results.

Although it’s his first time participating in the series, the winner of two races in the 2006 All-Japan Formula Nippon championship was immediately on the pace, setting some lightning-quick times in his rookie test on the Friday.

Loic was resolute in his driving, attacking right from the first to the fourth sessions. His talented efforts were rewarded with second place behind Team Germany driver Nico Hulkenberg. The qualifying result was the best for Team France this season. Local man Jonny Reid (Team New Zealand) rounded out the top three.

Sunday, January 21st:
The 14-lap Sprint race started at 11:00, and determined the order for the afternoon’s Feature. Loic ran without too much risk, netting a comfortable 2nd place ahead of the main event.

The 50-lap Feature race saw Loic make a brilliant start, and a fierce battle with pole-sitter Hulkenberg (Team Germany) ensued. With few overtaking points, it wasn’t possible to get ahead, though Loic attacked resolutely and repeatedly.

In the end, Loic took 2nd place, standing on the podium for the second time that weekend, the best results for Team France this season. With these results, Team France stand second in the championship with 46 points, behind leaders Team Germany on 65.

Loic Duval:
“I made a good start in both the Sprint and Feature races, though it wasn’t possible to get past Team Germany here. I decided to concentrate on keeping second place as a result. However, this also was not easy. I had Jonny Reid breathing down my neck for most of the race so I really had to keep focused throughout the entire event.

I waited for the leader to make a mistake, but that opportunity never came. On lap 29, I got ahead for a bit, but resulted in finishing second. It was good to stand once again on the podium, and it was a good race, though very physical. I’m happy because the team has risen to second place overall, and I want to thank the crew who did such a great job.”

Jean-Paul Driot (team representative):
“Loic did a wonderful job to fight for pole in the preliminary round with the much more experienced Hulkenberg. It’s an incredible job for his first participation in the series. He drove splendidly in both races, showing huge natural talent to hold off Jonny Reid in the long Feature race. His two podiums are a fantastic result. I’m absolutely thrilled with his performance.”