Thursday, January 22, 2009

2 Days to Blogathon: A1GP Taupo, New Zealand Preview

Yes my friends, only 2 days until we immerse ourselves into as much sporting events as we can this weekend for the blogathon. See below for the Daytona 24 preview ; or explanation onto what we're doing. And let's jump right in to Part 2 of the blogathon preview:

A1 Grand Prix: Round 4 Taupo, New Zealand

A1GP, like the 24 Hours of Daytona, is a pretty easy concept for the common fan to grasp:

World Cup of Motorsports, meaning Each team/car/driver is determined by their nationality... So instead of rooting for Marco Andretti/AGR/Blockbuster; you root for Team U.S.A., Ireland, Australia, the Netherlands etc.

The most important thing that comes from this aspect (outside of easily-determined rooting interest) The paint jobs on the cars in A1GP are easily the best of any series in the world because rather than being splashed with so-and-so alcohol, oil and credit check; the cars are splashed with National colors and some really sleek awesome looking designs.

-In each A1GP Round there are actually 2 races, both awarding points (to the top 10 finishers) to the overall championship , both with seperate qualifying:

A) Sprint race. A fast quick 20 (or so) lap race. These usually have rolling starts and no pit stops as to see who can go the quickest in their car without strategy; but for saftey reasons since Taupo has a turn just before the start/finish line they will be going standing start as to avoid an accordion effect like just as recently in Sepang (note this is not the first time it's happened).
B)Feature Race; this is the bigger race with multiple pit stops, a standing start, and awards slightly more points.

Qualifying: Though this doesn't fall within the 24 Hours of Blogathon, I recommend it. They do 4 quick sessions of qualifying in A1GP; the first 2 session count towards the Sprint race, and the 2nd two go to the Feature race. So whats the catch? A1GP cars, like the former ChampCar Series, have a powerboost button that gives the cars an additional horsepower when used. And for qualifying you can only use the button once, so you have to decide, do you want to use it for your Sprint qual or the Feature AND can you handle it? because unlike in racetime, when the powerboost only lasts for a short stretch of time, the powerboost stays for an entire lap during qualifying. UPDATE: A1GP has just decided to return to non-powerboost during qualifying.

Taupo Motorsports Park. The one really good thing about this race is that this is A1GP's 3rd visit to the track meaning most team's should have visited it previously or at least be able to obtain data on it. And as far as layout goes, its a decently designed track that should plenty action.

"But there is no TV coverage of A1GP where I am?" Fear not, as A1GP provides their own high-quality live streaming coverage of qualifying, both races and pre and post race interviews! For those in the U.S. just click it when as follows:

Qualifying Friday Night 8 p.m. (ET)
Pre Race Coverage starts: Saturday Night 7:45 p.m. (ET)

In addition to this I highly recomment A1GP's Timing&Scoring; as I think it's the best in the biz. Youy get, times, orders, you can see when teams use boost, and best of all, it brackets cars together that are close on the track so without having to look at times you can see which cars are close to each other.

So whats some good storyline/motivation to know going into this race?

---Trying out A1GP's new Dashboard. This will be it's preview, but they claim it will have live track-map with car positions, RPMs, speeds and pedal usage.

---A1GP may have some crazy management, but they do know how to do PR once they get to an event; and they don't just send drivers around; the film it all and make it part of the coverage, I'm personally looking forward to seeing all the drivers do the Haka.

---IndyCar fan? Well in addition to seeing Marco Andretti improve his road-course skills (which has really been evident so far) You can see the rumored HVM/NHL driver Roobert Doornbos representing the Netherlands.

---"Speedy" Dan Clarke will be making his A1GP debut in the Great Britain as Danny Watts has some family commitments (wife just gave birth)... Yes THAT(1) -- SAME(2) -- Dan Clarke(3)

---Like any kind of racing?? We'll be getting Formula 3's Adderly Fong testing in Team China's entry, Max Kart Champion & Formula VW's Cristiano Morgado in the South African car, Formula One's Neel Jani for Switzerland and many more!

---Will Malaysia's Fairuz Fauzy again mysteriously hear a radio signal telling him to pit causing them to lose precious places in the race?

---Will Ireland's Adam Carroll keep his hot streak going? (2 wins, 3 podiums, 2 pole positions, 2 fastest laps). Ireland enters the weekend in 1st place but only a small margin seperates them from Portugal(2nd), France/New Zealand (tied 3rd) as well as: Australia, G.B., U.S.A., Switzerland, Netherlands, Malaysia who are all within a double podiums and bad day for Ireland away from moving to the top.

---After racing for all U.S.A., Great Britain and then 3 good years with Mexico: (2 wins, 9 podiums, 1 pole position, 5 fastest laps) Will Salvador Duran's return bring Mexico back to the podium?

“Beforehand I behaved like a kid, a Latin American kid, and I just wanted to go to the track, do what I did, and then go back to my hotel. But now, I look at it more as a project and I realise how important it is to carry your country name and represent it. This is not for me – this is for Mexico."

He really seems to put this in the perspective of any other sporting World Cup, and rightfully so, I give you Part 2 of our blogathon, Round 4 of the World Cup of Motorsport.

All pictures via

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