Monday, November 26, 2007

Jani’s Clean Sweep

Neal Jani; PKV Racing Champ Car driver has just completed a Clean Sweep of the Malaysian A1 GP weekend. Driving for Team Switzerland, Jani was quickest in qualifying, snatching both pole positions for the sprint and feature races, with only France’s Loïc Duval and Great Britain’s (GBR) Oliver Jarvis being able to challenge him.

Then Jani proceeded to put on a driving clinic while setting fastest lap for both events enroute to scoring Switzerland’s first “Double” victory while also scoring maximum points.

While Jani kept his nose clean and led most of both events, fun and frivolities were breaking out behind him, with Team Germany’s rookie driver Michael Ammermuller gaining quite a reputation for overly aggressive (reckless driving… As first “Hammer Muller” tried a bonsai pass of Team Canada’s rookie Robert Wickens on the last lap of the sprint race.

Wickens, a Champ Car Atlantics standout who was making his series debut was in third place when the Hammer tried taking him out, bouncing off of Wickens and taking the place. Yet the stewards penalized Ammermuller a 25 second time penalty, dropping the young German to 16th with Wickens scoring his first podium in A1 GP behind Team France’s Duval.

But the fun ‘N games weren’t over yet as the Sepang F1 circuits overly wide stretches of tarmac can induce large amounts of “Red Mist,” while drivers jockey for positions. Thus on the get-away there were several cars involved in concertina related incidents, while Jani pulled away. Wickens who’d been caught out in the early lap shenanigans then was further involved in an accident with South Africa, which resulted in a Safety Car period.

During this portion of the race, confusion ensued which saw Team Brazil’s Sergio Jimenez pass Jani and Duvall in the pits, while the Hammer was busy playing billiards with Team GBR’s Oliver Jarvis, winner of this year’s Macau F3 race. Of course Jarvis got the worse end of the Hammer, whom
Initially received a drive thru penalty for his infraction. Upon further review, the stewards decided to disqualify Ammermuller from the feature race results altogether, thus seeing the Hammer D’ Queued from his first race outing!

Meanwhile Jani cleanly picked off race leader Jimenez with a few “flyer” laps during the second mandatory pit stop. And the stewards weren’t finished yet, assessing Brazil amongst others with various penalties. Thus France’s Duval was elevated to second when Brazil’s Jimenez was given a 2 second time penalty for a pit infraction, dropping Jimenez to third. Adding further insult to injury, Jarvis was dinged a penalty dropping him out of the final point scoring position, which gave Team USA its very first point of the season.

Team Switzerland now leads the championship after three events, 8 points ahead of France and 15 points clear of New Zealand. Round 4 will be held on December 16 at Champ Cars favourite Asian venue, the Zhuhai circuit in China…

Point standings after three of eleven events: 1 Switzerland, 61 points; 2 France, 53; 3 New Zealand, 46; 4 Netherlands, 39; 5 South Africa, 37; 6 Great Britain, 36; 7 Ireland, 31; 8 Brazil, 22; 9 Mexico, 17; 10 China, 16; 11 Germany, 14.

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