Jonny Reid dominated last weekend’s round of the A1 GP World Cup of Nations at Sentul, Indonesia, qualifying fastest and then winning the sprint and feature races in Team New Zealand’s Black Beauty.
In a rain-affected and incident-filled feature race, Reid won by just over two seconds from Germany’s Nico Hulkenberg and France’s Nicolas Lapierre.
Reid led into the first corner and withstood heavy pressure from Mexico’s Salvador
Duran and Great Britain’s Robbie Kerr.
Hulkenberg, starting from third, pulled level with Duran through turns five and six, but it was Kerr who finally found a way into second, driving around the Mexican on the inside of turn seven.
South Africa’s Alan van der Merwe had an outstanding start, moving from eighth to fifth by the second sector and past Duran into fourth by the end of the first lap.
Relishing the wet conditions, Hulkenberg put Reid under heavy pressure for the lead over the first lap and drew level with the New Zealander down the pit straight at the end of the lap using the PowerBoost button. Reid however kept his line and jinked to the right down the straight into turn 3 to defend his lead.
Hulkenberg tried the same move the following lap, but this time made it stick and powered past and into the lead. He opened a six-second lead over the next five laps.
He led until the first round of pitstops. As the heavy rain that had delayed the start of the race cleared and the track started to dry, it was a gamble for teams on whether to opt for wet or slick rubber.
Reid was amongst the first to stop on lap 16, with Hulkenberg pitting two laps later. The German’s stop was slightly slower at 37.8 seconds, but the advantage the German had built over the preceding laps was enough to put him back out ahead of Reid. Even a brief excursion into the gravel at turn 2 on lap 19 wasn’t enough to delay the young German.
Over the next two laps, Reid put in a series of laps more than a second quicker than Hulkenberg to close the gap to just under a second by lap 24. As the track started to dry, drivers returned to the pits for slick tyres with Hulkenberg stopping on lap 30.
With clean air in front, Reid put in a series of fast laps and when he stopped on lap 33, he came out in front of the German and still in the lead he held till the finish.
“It was not a straightforward race at all and the weather came in and played a big part in that race,” said Reid. “After the start I was struggling quite a lot and at the pitstop, we made a change and the car was much, much better as you could see in the lap times. I snatched back the lead and pushed hard to get a gap. We put a lot of push on at the end and I just got my head down.”
Great Britain’s Kerr was looking good for another podium spot behind the Kiwi and the German, until France’s Lapierre caught and passed him on the straight on lap 34.
With strategic use of the PowerBoost, the Frenchman pulled level down the pit straight, taking the inside line through turn 1. Kerr tried to fight back, but with no PowerBoosts remaining, Kerr struggled to find defend his line.
A solid fourth position for the Englishman looked assured until he ran wide at turn 4 on lap 39, spun and stalled.
A five minute safety car period was called to recover the car and when it withdrew it was a sprint to the finish, with only three minutes remaining.
Reid made an excellent start and held on to his advantage over a charging Hulkenberg to win by 1.178 seconds, and record New Zealand’s first feature race win.