A1GP World Cup of Motorsport powered by Ferrari has a two-day open test Thursday and Friday at Snetterton, and starts the season Saturday morning at the 2.684-mile/4.63-km Circuit Park Zandvoort in The Netherlands. The first Saturday practice will be longer than usual – one hour fifty minutes. The Entry Lists for both are still a work in progress.
Andretti Green Racing, owned by MICHAEL ANDRETTI, KIM GREEN, and KEVIN SAVOREE, will run the US team in A1GP this year, starting with the Dutch race, with the driver lineup to be announced at Zandvoort by Andretti. The documents are still being finalized. No word on AGR participating in the Snetterton test. Names being mentioned as driver (s) include two of AGR’s IRL drivers, Andretti’s son, MARCO ANDRETTI and DANICA PATRICK. Another name just surfacing is J.R. HILDEBRAND, who finished fifth overall in the IRL Indy Lights Series this year. Previously he had raced in the Atlantic series for Newman Wachs.
AGR has a busy weekend, as its American Le Mans Series LMP2 team is running the 10-hour ALMS Petit Le Mans endurance race at Road Atlanta on Saturday. The drivers will be Marco Andretti, TONY KANAAN, and FRANCK MONTAGNY. Kanaan is one of the four AGR IRL drivers.
No where in any of the official A1GP information is there mention of the previous franchise holder – A1 Team USA Holdings, of which RICK WEIDINGER is the majority partner and the one in charge. Weidinger’s group has been running A1GP Team USA since its inception four years ago. The Indianapolis-based USA Holdings believes it has a binding, legal agreement with A1GP and didn’t receive official word about AGR until the press release Wednesday afternoon. USA Holdings had been at Silverstone last weekend to take delivery of its car, but none was forthcoming. AGR was also in England last weekend. At this point, there has been no official comment from Weidinger.
There has been talk but no confirmation that the car AGR will be running this weekend originally was being prepared by Team Great Britain and was seventy percent completed when given to AGR. What has been confirmed is that Team Great Britain will not be racing at Zandvoort due to “the delay in the A1GP car build schedule.”
There has been a scramble to get A1GP cars assembled for the 2008-2009 season. A1GP changed to cars from Ferrari and there has been a scramble to build cars since the announcement last October. The original 2008 A1GP season’s opener at Mugello was canceled due to cars not being available. Some teams are just taking possession of their cars, leaving little preparation time or ability to test; and others either don’t have their cars or the parts. Lack of building components was cited as the reason there was a clog in the pipeline.
Teams receive their chassis and components from A1GP and assemble their car, and then return it to A1GP. The cars are retained by A1GP and brought to each venue for the teams to tweak and race prepare, and then returned to A1GP until the next race.
There were only five cars testing last weekend at Snetterton. Another test, originally scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday this week has been rescheduled for Thursday and Friday, and A1GP expects 12-13 cars to participate. A1GP is expecting 18-19 cars for the two-day race weekend which starts 9 am Saturday at Zandvoort.
A1GP just recently announced a change in the points system to accommodate the schedule changes and inability of some teams to race this weekend due to no fault of their own. Now the A1GP teams will be allowed to drop their worst event score, so several teams can drop the Dutch race in which they didn’t participate. The teams will count their nine best scores. In addition to Great Britain, other teams not making the Dutch race include India and Mexico. It will be a difficult pill to swallow for Great Britain as it won last year’s feature race at Zandvoort.
Another team rumored not to be present in The Netherlands is Team Germany, as seat holder WILLY WEBER is thought to have put the A1 team up for sale.
Team Switzerland, 2007-2008 Nations Cup of Motorsport Champion, just took delivery on its car midweek and is scrambling to make Zandvoort.
Team Malaysia and Team Holland are in Zandvoort waiting for others to arrive.
Mexico’s Rookie driver will be ESTEBAN GUTIERREZ, but the primary driver has yet to be announced.
The next A1GP round will be 7-9 November 2008 at Chengdu in China and all 2008-2009 teams are expected to race.