In its second season of competition A1GP World Cup of Motorsport continues to push the traditional frontiers of motorsport. This week, A1GP will become the first-ever motorsport series to race in Beijing when the cars take to the street circuit in the south east of the Chinese capital.
The third event of the 2006/07 season will take place on a 3.1km street circuit around the Jingkai exhibition centre in the industrial area of Beijing’s Economic and Technological Development Zone, approximately 20 minutes’ drive from the city centre from 10-12 November. The circuit, which has been provisionally approved by FIA Race Director and Safety Delegate, Charlie Whiting, features long straights and a tight hairpin bend that allows just one car at a time. With a new surface and dusty conditions, there could be some spectacular racing as teams fight for position on the narrow track.
With the Olympic Games scheduled to take place in Beijing in 2008, the historic race is one of the first steps in a long-term plan to host major, high-profile events to establish the city as a centre for international sports to realise sustainable growth in the post-Olympics economic period. With a capacity for 25,000 people in the grandstands alone, the race will be the biggest motorsport event the capital has ever witnessed.
The race has received significant backing from the Chinese government, the General Administration of Sports China (GASC) and the Automobile & Motorcycle Sports Administration Centre. “We couldn’t have hosted the race without the considerable support and guidance of the GASC and Chinese authorities,” A1GP chief operating officer David Clare commented, “The race is a fantastic opportunity for all involved: for Beijing to promote itself as a world-class sporting venue and for Chinese fans to have another opportunity to see a top racing series. The race will also broaden A1GP’s reach and audience. To hold two races in one of the fastest-growing economies in the world is a significant marketing and business tool for the series and its teams.”
The third race of the A1GP season takes place in the onset of the Chinese winter and conditions are expected to be variable – expect anything from rain, sleet and freezing temperatures to bright, crisp sunshine. It’s also highly possible that the temperatures will be just above freezing: the climate can still be harsh as the winds come down from the Arctic over the desert steppes.
The second season of A1GP has so far been as unpredictable as the Beijing weather. With three different winners from four races, competition has been fierce and the championship is still wide open. South Africa and Germany scored a win apiece in Zandvoort, with Malaysia’s Alex Yoong sealing a double win in Brno, the first clean sweep of event wins for a team since Mexico won both the Sprint and the Feature race in Laguna Seca last March.
Yoong will face tough opposition however to score a third straight win, as Zandvoort Sprint race winner, 19-year-old Adrian Zaugg of South Africa, returns to the Vulindlela car in Beijing. German rookie, Nico Hulkenberg, will also be eager to hold Germany’s overall lead in the team’s championship, however he faces a steep learning curve as Beijing will only be his second-ever street race.
The weekend’s racing action kicks off with the rookie driver and developing nations’ session on Friday 10 November from 11.00 to 12.00. All teams can take part in the later practice session from 14.00 to 15.00. Final practice and qualifying for the Sprint race will take place on Saturday, with the Sprint and Feature races scheduled for Sunday 12 November at 11.00 and 15.00 respectively.