Kiwi driver says that without the problems that struck him in the Feature Race he and Black Beauty were capable of a top placing.
Team New Zealand A1GP driver, Chris van der Drift, is philosophical after a mixed weekend in his home round at Taupo.
He started strongly from sixth on the grid in the Sprint race, getting past Frenchman Loic Duval, then ran wide on a corner and dropping back to ninth. A super-slick pitstop got him back on track fifth which is where he finished.
Race two wasn’t exactly a disaster but he could only salvage 14th place after two early setbacks. That later became 13th place after officials slapped a time penalty on Team Brazil, dropping it from 12th to 15th place.
The car’s anti-stall software, designed to prevent the engine from stalling entirely, cut in as he tried to launch off the grid and he dropped to the back of the field.
Then, part-way around the first lap, he was hit from behind by the Lebanese car; the impact punctured a rear tyre and he had to pit for a replacement wheel.
Van der Drift said he hadn’t seen which car hit him and nor did he have any idea that a car was there.
“I just got walloped from behind. As we were getting out of the turn I felt a bump and knew we had a problem straight away.
“The first lap told the story of the race,” he said. “I had the anti-stall problem at the start and later in the lap someone drove into the back of me. It’s just a pity that we couldn’t have had a better result here.
“Obviously, there’s always another day. (Today) we had problems. You don’t know that’s going to happen. We just need to keep working hard and get closer and challenge these guys later on.
“We were getting there today, but when you get things like this you can’t really show your potential. (Without the problems) I definitely think we could have challenged for some good spots. I definitely think we would have been closer.”
Talking about the anti-stall software which cut in unexpectedly and hampered several drivers – and almost certainly cost Adam Carroll the feature race win – van der Drift said: “something will have to be done about it. We can’t go on like that.”
An outside supplier provides the anti-stall program to all teams as a package; the teams have no control over how it is set up or calibrated.
Despite racing in front of his home crowd, van der Drift said he hadn’t felt any added pressure at the racetrack and had enjoyed the amount of crowd support for him and Black Beauty.
“My attitude was not anything different (racing before an NZ crowd). There were just a lot more things to do in my free time, with media interviews and personal appearances.
“Obviously you want to perform for the crowd and put on a good show. Here or overseas, I still want to win for the Kiwi crowd.”
Van der Drift says he doesn’t know yet whether he or Jonny Reid will drive Black Beauty in the next round in South Africa. Those talks are yet to be held with Team Kiwi A1GP owner, Colin Giltrap.