Monday, December 11, 2006

Ananda wants more than just points in A1 race

Friday, December 08, 2006
The Jakarta Post, Lido, West Java

Weather conditions and quick newcomers are threatening Indonesian driver Ananda Mikola's ambition to reach the podium during the A1 Grand Prix races at the Sentul circuit, south of Jakarta, this weekend.

"I know the circuit better... but it's easy to make a mistake when you push too hard. We set some good lap times here last season so I know I can be up there," Ananda said Thursday.

"Hopefully the spectators will help us. I want to be on the podium, even though the team only expects me to get points."

So far, Indonesia has collected one point from four races and is at the bottom of the standings.

A huge crowd, similar to last season's audience in February, is expected to attend this weekend's extravaganza.

"I hope we will have very good attendance this year because we are better prepared. We have worked closely with the Indonesian government and the organizers to ensure the spectators have more enjoyable experience. Yes, it's a last-minute preparation but more people are aware of this event than last season's," said David Clare, A1GP chief operating officer.

Drivers are facing competition from quick newcomers at the A1GP.

"There are four or five new young stars appearing in the A1 this year. I'm sure more will appear in the future and I think that will be a challenge to established drivers, like Ananda," Clare said.

Malaysian driver Alex Yoong, who won the A1GP Sentul leg in February, said all drivers, including Ananda, would have an equal chance to win.

"He had the toughest time this year, but in Europe last season he was as quick as anybody else. He just needs to stay up for the whole weekend," Yoong said.

"I'm expecting an exciting race here and hopefully we can do as good as what we did here last season."

Malaysia is currently third on the leaderboard with 24 points after Germany, backed by Nico Hulkenberg, with 37 points and Great Britain with 31 points.

One of the newcomers, Ho-Pin Tung of China is hoping for a quick debut.

"Maybe I will suffer a bit. I'm not familiar with the car and the track and I have no experience at all in the race," he said.

Ho-Ping Tung is the newly crowned 2006 German Formula 3 Champion and comes to Sentul after testing a World Series Renault car at the Valencia track in Spain for the Belgian KTR team.

The weekend's action kicks off Friday with a practice session, followed with qualifications rounds on Saturday and the sprint and feature races on Sunday.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is scheduled to officially open the event. (02)

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