Doornbos wins sprint race in Portugal
12 April 2009 – Robert Doornbos took his maiden victory for A1 Team Netherlands this morning after a red flag prematurely ended the Sprint race of Vodafone A1GP Algarve, Portugal. Ireland's Adam Carroll brought the Celtic Tiger home a comfortable second and also claimed a point for fastest lap to retake the championship lead from Switzerland while home favourite Filipe Albuquerque took the final podium position much to the delight of the Portuguese crowd.
Doornbos had made a clean start to take the lead from Italian pole-sitter Vitantonio Liuzzi, while Ireland's Adam Carroll held on to third as the field headed through turn one for the first time. Just behind the leaders, New Zealand's Earl Bamber came across the track in front of Lebanon's Daniel Morad, with the Kiwi landing himself in the gravel and out of the race. Germany's Andre Lotterer then also came together with Lebanon while trying to go around the outside of the hairpin, ending his race with significant damage to the left rear of his car. The two incidents resulted in the Safety Car being deployed before the end of lap one.
The race re-started on lap four with Liuzzi looking to find a way passed Doornbos, while Australia's John Martin got ahead of USA's Marco Andretti to take ninth into the first corner.
With the pit stop window now open, race-leader Doornbos was the first man to head in for his first scheduled stop of the day. Monaco, India, Brazil, Great Britain and China followed with the Brazil car clipping a tyre held by one of the Chinese mechanics as Felipe Guimarães' exited his pit box. The tyre flew down the pit lane but was recovered by the team, although the incident delayed the China pit stop dropping them down the field. A lap later Italy, Ireland and Portugal dived into the pit lane and great stops from the Irish and Portuguese teams saw their cars exit the pit lane ahead of the Italian.
Championship leader Switzerland had a difficult start to the day. After starting from the back of the grid due to not setting a time in qualifying yesterday, Neel Jani stayed out late before pitting right at the end of the pit stop window. The Swiss driver rejoined in a points' paying position however, the pit stop was deemed too late by the stewards and the team were awarded a time penalty which dropped them down to an eventual fifteenth.
Doornbos had built up a healthy lead out in front before a crash involving Felipe Guimarães' Brazilian car and South Africa's Adrian Zaugg brought out the red flags with three laps remaining. Doornbos claimed his first victory for the Netherlands while Ireland and Portugal completed the podium. Ireland's extra point for Carroll's fastest lap of 1m31.404s helped the team re-established itself at the top of the championship standings.