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Netherlands victory at Beijing A1GP sprint race


Australian driver Luke Youlden has extended his lead in the Schaeffer Oil N.Z. Super Sedan Series after the second round at Manfeild Park, Feilding this weekend.

A1 Team Netherlands have became the fourth different team to win a round of the 2006/07 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport as Dutchman Jeroen Bleekemolen secured a lights-to-flag victory at the Jingkai street circuit, just under 1.5secs from A1 Team Mexico's Salvador Duran and Italy's Enrico Toccacelo.

Following a difficult opening two days of the A1GP Beijing, China round, Bleekemolen roared away from pole position to pull out a one second lead by the end of the first lap from Duran and Toccacelo. The Italian tried to squeeze through the inside of Duran going through Turn Eight, the tight hairpin at the end of the back straight, but had to settle for third as Duran kept the racing line. Further down the racing order A1 Team France made a bold move on Lebanon to move up to 20th position.

France and Italy's charges were however halted the next lap when the safety car was deployed following a spin out of the final corner from South Africa's Adrian Zaugg. With the Vulindlela car in a dangerous position, a rescue vehicle was sent to recover the machine to the pit lane.

When the safety car pulled off, it was a true Sprint to the finish with only four minutes of racing action remaining. Toccacelo resumed his pursuit of Duran, but ran out of time and was forced to settle for third, Italy's first podium finish of the year. Behind the top three, Canada, Germany and Brazil completed the top six, Matos posting Brazil's best season result so far. France gained two more positions on the final two laps to seal 17tth overall.

Delighted with his win, Bleekemolen commented, "It was really great. We started form pole so you know you have a good chance of winning, especially on a street race. I was able to create a small gap to Salvador after the safety car and was able to control it. In the morning I was fast and I had a very heavy car but did not know how quick we were compared to the others. I now think we have a good chance for the next one."

Second place Duran added, "Everyone knows these sort of incidents happen on tracks like this, but I think for us the main thing is we have been quick all weekend and are in the lead of the points which for Team Mexico is very good. All my team have worked perfectly and done a great job and deserve this second place in the race. It is only the driving I have to do and I am happy to do this with such an awesome team behind me."

Toccacelo, who now starts the Feature race from third position on the grid, said, "That was a really good start for me and I was also faster than Salvador Duran but here it is impossible to overtake. I just had to be careful and not crash as it is easy to do that here. We have to wait and see what happens in the Feature race as I may be able to get by - you never know what happens."

Winners Netherlands will now start the 70-minute Feature race from pole position. Mexico will complete the front row, with Italy and Canada on row two. The race will start behind the safety car at 15.00 local time.

Race 1:

A1 Team Driver Time No. Laps Gap first

1 Netherlands Jeroen Bleekemolen 20.28.420 15

2 Mexico Salvador Duran 20.29.884 15 +1.464

3 Italy Enrico Toccacelo 20.30.731 15 +2.311

4 Canada James Hinchcliffe 20.31.795 15 +3.375

5 Germany Nico Hulkenburg 20.32.363 15 +3.943

6 Brazil Raphael Matos 20.32.820 15 +4.400

7 Great Britain Oliver Jarvis 20.35.797 15 +7.377

8 Czech Republic Tomas Enge 20.36.817 15 +8.397

9 Switzerland Neel Jani 20.37.269 15 +8.849

10 New Zealand Matt Halliday 20.37.685 15 +9.265

11 USA Phil Giebler 20.38.842 15 +10.422

12 Australia Karl Reindler 20.40.340 15 +11.920

13 China Cong Fu Cheng 20.41.636 15 +13.216

14 Malaysia Alex Yoong 20.45.447 15 +17.027

15 Indonesia Ananda Mikola 20.46.889 15 +18.479

16 Singapore Christian Murchison 20.49.079 15 +20.659

17 France Nicolas Lapierre 20.49.222 15 +20.802

18 India Armaan Ebrahim 20.50.673 15 +22.253

19 Lebanon Basil Shaaban 20.51.203 15 +22.783

20 Ireland Michael Devaney 20.51.667 15 +23.247

21 Pakistan Nur Ali 21.15.961 15 +47.541

22 South Africa Adrian Zaugg 2 laps 2 laps 13 laps

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