A unique new motor racing series, it's contested by 25 countries in identical cars over a 12-race schedule taking in 12 different countries including South Africa. Representing 80 percent of the world?s population, A1 Grand Prix brings together teams and drivers from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Switzerland and the USA, plus a further three countries to be announced on Monday, September 19.
Shakedown tests at Silverstone in England and Paul Ricard in France in August have prepared the competing teams for the opening races on Sunday. South Africans Tomas Scheckter, Stephen Simpson, Alan van der Merwe and Gavin Cronje have all tested the South African car, like its rivals decked out in the colours of the national flag and proudly carrying the Robben Island prison number 46664 that was worn by former president Nelson Mandela.
Stephen Simpson will drive the car at Brands Hatch.
?This is a proud moment for us and all fellow-South Africans,? said Tokyo Sexwale, official seat holder for the South African team and chairperson of A1 Grand Prix Team South Africa.
?Sheikh Maktoum of Dubai?s vision has provided our country with a golden opportunity to compete against the nations of the world in a global motor racing competition never seen before, where it is nation against nation as opposed to a contest between drivers and constructors," added Sexwale.
?All the cars are identical, specially designed and built for A1 Grand Prix, so the playing field is level. We expect this series of 12 races to provide the world?s motor racing fans and the supporters of each nation with close and exciting racing. The A1 Grand Prix concept will bring these nations together in a common goal ? to join together in a celebration of united nations, international goodwill and national pride.?
Ms Dana Cooper, CEO of A1 Grand Prix South Africa, has urged all South Africans to support their team in this competition. ?Like the African Cup of Nations and the Rugby World Cup, here is an opportunity for our country to take on and beat the best in the world in the exciting world of motor racing,? said Ms Cooper.
Sporting and technical manager Mike Carroll is confident that the South African A1GP team will acquit itself well in the new series.
?Handling our race preparation until we can assemble our own South African team is Spanish-based BCN, who finished second in the 2004 FIA Formula 3000 championship. They have done a great job preparing the car.?
Each race weekend consists of two official practice sessions on Friday, an official practice session on Saturday as well as four 15-minute qualifying sessions during which each car must complete a single flying lap, followed by a rolling start 30-minute sprint race and a grid start one-hour feature race with a mandatory pit stop.
Points are scored on a scale of 10 through one for the top 10 places in each of the sprint and feature races. In addition, the team that has recorded the fastest lap time over both races will receive a bonus point.
Prize money per race weekend totals US$1-million, with the winning team taking home $300 000, the runner-up $200 000 and the third-placed team $150 000. The 10th placed finisher will earn $10 000. The overall winner of the 12-race World Cup of Motorsport will be rewarded with a cash prize of $1-million dollars.