Thursday, 12 February 2009 02:52
A1GP preview - The A1GP World Cup of Motorsport has started arriving into the Gauteng District for the fifth round on the legendary and fast Kyalami Circuit.
Like A1’s ‘level playing field’ the race weekend replicates the same for all teams and drivers with all past races in the Republic of South Africa having been on the streets of Durban along the Indian Ocean Coastline.
As a permanent racing facility, Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit is approaching its 50th anniversary. Since its opening in 1961 the circuit played host to numerous Grand Prix, Moto GP and World Superbike endurance events.
The current 4.26-km layout of the track was built in 1991, with only one minor addition since, the building of a chicane at the penultimate corner.
In a recent international survey Kyalami was voted one of the top ten 'names' associated with South Africa.
Looking back over the past results, in the Sprint Race of 2005-06 in Durban Australian driver Will Davison came in 9th from 17th on the grid with Neel Jani of Switzerland 3rd. In the Feature Australia was 9th on the grid to finish 22nd as Jani took 2nd place to Jos Verstappen with Nelson Piquet Jnr in 9th for Brazil.
In season 2006-07 Durban saw Australian Karl Reindler start the Sprint in 16th position to finish in the same place, the winner being Nico Hulkenburg for Germany, now Williams F1 test driver. The Feature race saw an Australian 16th start to finish 18th again Hulkenburg the winner, as he did that season taking the world title.
The 2007-08 season on the streets of Durban had John Martin for Australia with his grid position of 11 to finish 6th behind Jani, Wickens, and Jarvis, ahead of Albuquerque, Duval, Zaugg and Carroll.
The night before John Martin was hospitalised on a drip with a severe case of food poisoning, to the extent Robbie Kerr was asked to consider the drive in his place. Our tough Aussie from Blackwater QLD made the grid with the doctor’s approval and in the Feature was not so lucky after an early start shunt.
After the restart from 10th on the grid Martin finished a respectable 14th completely exhausted from a very hot race around the streets of Durban.
John Martin and A1 Team Australia for 2008-09 will look for the podium as a minimum acceptable result. The season so far has shown improvement every round as they sit in 8th place in the world championship with 6th overall at the completion of Kyalami in their sights.
Ash Walsh will Rookie the first session in Kyalami to provide the feedback Martin and the Team Engineers need to set the car up for Martin’s first practice on Friday afternoon. This will be Walsh’s third Rookie in A1GP for Australia.
Location: Kyalami is 20 kms north of central Johannesburg, South Africa
Track length: 4.26 kms (2.65 miles)
No. turns: 11
Direction: Anti clockwise
Lap record: To be established
Date of Birth: July 8, 1984
Currently Resides: Blackwater Queensland Australia & Silverstone UK
John Martin was born in Gosford, N.S.W, Australia and a love of anything that goes fast soon grew on the young star. Living in outback Queensland in a town called Blackwater, Martin spent much of his childhood riding trail bikes and jet-ski's before his racing career began at the Rockhampton Kart Track in 1998 when he began to race a C.R.G in the junior national and light class.
Racing came easily to the young star and began to win races in his first year behind the wheel. In just a few short years, Martin was moving up the ranks and soon racing in the Resa category where pole positions, race wins and podiums became the norm. By 2001 Martin was in the top 5 of the Resa category and the following year he won the Resa QLD State Championship.
Martin again moved up in class and showed he had talent to burn. In 2002 Martin ran a full season in the ICA series racing a Trulli kart and then stepped up to the prestigious Ford Kartstars series for a number of events. By 2003 he had set pole at Geelong in the Ford Kartstars before placing second and was also racing in the CIK series.
In his final year of kart racing (2004), Martin picked up the highly sought Arrows factory drive and rewarded the team with a number of wins. Like many before him, Martin chose to race Formula Fords as his next step in building a racing career and competed in both the Victorian and NSW State Formula Ford Championships.
In a remarkable year in a Spectrum, Martin amassed an incredible 20 race wins, seven 2nd places and three 3rd places from 42 starts in rookie season, including 2 national race wins and national round win in the 2005 Australian Formula Ford Championship at Sandown.
John Martin was suddenly the Victorian Formula Ford Champion and Victorian Rookie of the Year and also came 2nd in the NSW Formula Ford Championship and NSW Rookie of the Year. Raw speed was also evident with the up and coming star claiming 9 pole positions from 13 qualifying sessions in 2005.
Rewarded with the CAMS Rising Star award, Martin raced in the National Formula Ford series in 2006, racing a Spectrum011 with Borland Racing. In the all-new Fiesta powered engines, Martin continued to his meteoric rise by winning the opening round at the Adelaide Street Circuit. A string of race wins and podium results followed and coupled with another round win at Oran Park, Martin claimed the Rookie of the Year title with a round to go.
Heading into the final round he was one of only two drivers who could win the Australian Formula Ford Championship and held the championship lead longer than any other driver. A win in race two of the final round of the championship at Phillip Island was the pivotal race result that netted Martin the 2006 Australian Formula Ford Championship along with his Rookie title. Impressive as Martin's career had been in Australia, the racing world took notice when he went to England to compete in the highly competitive British Formula Ford Championship.
Qualifying in the top five at Brands Hatch, Martin went on to become the first Australian to win on debut in an Australian built Spectrum, signalling his arrival on the international scene and opening up some opportunities for a international drive for 2007.
John competed well in this year's 2008 International Class of British F3 with Raikkonen Robertson Racing.
Success came in the PSC Australian Formula 3 car this October of 2008 on the Gold Coast. John Martin broke two lap records and won two from three races to win the Nikon Formula 3 Challenge at Surfers Paradise, the location for the Australian round of the A1GP in 2009.
The 2008 - 2009 A1GP season will be the challenge John has looked for with a new car and the Ferrari Power.
Season four in A1GP will be John's second season with A1 Team Australia elevating John into a new era of motorsport with A1GP Powered by Ferrari.
"This is a fast car with our target together to score podiums and finish every round in the points"
Twenty year old Ipswich Queensland born Ashley Walsh, Australian AMSF International Rising Star will take control of the Australian A1GP car for the Sepang and Taupo Rookie sessions. Ashley had a good 2008 season in Formula Renault Western European Cup with the Hitech Junior team competing as a rookie in a rookie team.
The experience competing so recently on international circuits like Spa, Barcelona, Valencia, Le Mans, Estoril and Magny-Cours will help Ashley manage the characteristics of the new Ferrari Powered A1GP car. Racing early in life in the Australian Formula Ford series from an age of sixteen through to nineteen years of age, in 2007 Ashley took second place in the series overall that same year, coupled with a drive in the British Formula Ford Festival after his Brands Hatch British Formula Ford drive the month prior as the best performing international driver.
Again in 2007 two months later the offer to test a Formula Renault in Valencia and Barcelona delivered a drive for the same team in 2008. To help Ashley’s preparation he was invited down to A1’s Simulator in Italy to help him understand the car before Sepang. Prior simulator experience for Ashley has been Playstation, Hyper Stims, using the Formula 3 and Formula 1 setup as anyone can do in the public arena.
Along side him to help Ashley understand the A1 car was Ash Edwards, the Australian A1 Team’s Data Engineer, who two months before was there with John Martin before the Zandvoort round. “I am very happy to be able to drive the new A1 Team Australia racecar in Sepang and Taupo. The Ferrari Power is one you look forward to any day in your racing career, and to do it with John Martin who I know very well is valuable in itself. John and I trained together in the UK this year and that gave me a lot of time to talk over the A1 car to be ready if one day I was going to take control for a session. That’s now going to be a reality so I am studying previous race footage.
The A1 Simulator was the highest level simulator I have ever used, the most realistic version of a race car simulator. You have a solid brake pedal, seat belts firm, all of the necessary controls to stop, exactly the same as the normal race car. With Ash Edwards, you were in complete control as he explained it all to me piece by piece. Ash spent time revising the setup of the car for Sepang, and we managed to do one whole session on the steering wheel alone which was perfect so I am ready when we get to Malaysia on the 22nd November”