Zaugg has high hopes for Sepang

Musa Zondi

Musa Zondi

Round four of the A1GP goes to Malaysia this weekend. Again, the new wonderboy of South African racing, Adrian Zaugg, is expected to lead the Vulindlela charge through the exciting Sepang Circuit.

This is the same circuit that hosts Formula 1 races in Malaysia. Situated 60km outside Kuala Lumpur, Sepang is probably one of the best circuits in the world and should provide a great race after the rather unfortunate Beijing street race, which proved to be a disappointment.

Zaugg, who just turned 20, was sizzling in Zandvoort and went on to score crucial points in the Beijing race. He came from the back of the 22-car grid to finish a remarkable fifth in the feature race. It was a stunning drive, during which he held off a strong challenge from A1 Team Czech Republic's Tomas Enge in the closing stages to finish four-tenths of a second ahead of the former Formula One driver and A1GP winner and three-tenths of a second behind A1 Team France, driven by Nicolas Lapierre.

Zaugg said: "Vulindlela has proved to be one of the quickest cars so far this season and the two races at Sepang, a 20-minute sprint race on Sunday morning and a 70-minute feature race on Sunday afternoon, provide us with an opportunity to put more points on the board and improve our position in the championship."

Zaugg has been one of the rookie finds in a second season of A1 that has been marked by strong performances by rookie drivers. He was unfortunate to be knocked out of the feature race in the Netherlands in a first lap incident and was again disappointed in the sprint race in China after clipping a wall on the Beijing street circuit and then being hit by another car.

Problems with the brand new Beijing circuit, being the first motor race ever held in Beijing, resulted in the only official practice session being used to determine the starting grid for the feature race. Zaugg, who was still settling in to the practice session when it ended prematurely, had to settle for an unexpected seventh place on the grid.

Zaugg said: "We didn't really have any time to test the car before the Beijing sprint race. I'm sure we would have done a lot better than seventh. There were few overtaking opportunities on the narrow street circuit, with the result that the finishing order was pretty much unchanged from the starting order, with the exception of my retirement."

The young South African marginally misjudged a turn on lap three and barely touched the wall with his right rear wheel. His car was tipped into a spin and was narrowly missed by three cars before being hit by a fourth.

He said: "It was my fault. It was difficult concentrating on the car in front and the car behind while keeping the right line during the opening laps. I got too close to the wall in turn nine and there was contact with my rear wheel. This kind of thing happens in street races where there are no kerbs. I'm just sorry for the team and our supporters that it was me.

"We'll be doing our very best to make up for it with two good results in Malaysia," Zaugg said.

SABC will broadcast Saturday's qualifying race live from 8am to 10am and Sunday's two races from 8am to 10.30am. The sprint race will be recorded from 8am and the feature race will be live from 9am.

l Championship points after three rounds of 12, first to last:

Mexico 24; Germany 22; the UK 20; Italy 19; Malaysia 17; sharing sixth place are Canada, Czech Republic and Australia at 16; Netherlands and France 15; South Africa 13; the US 10; China 8; New Zealand 7; Brazil 5; Switzerland 4; Singapore 3; Indonesia 1.