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Armaan escapes high-speed shunt unhurt

January 28, 2006 19:22 IST

Budding racing talent Armaan Ebrahim emerged unscathed after a major shunt at 160-kmph during practice sessions ahead of the A1 Grand Prix of Nations in Durban, South Africa.

Sixteen-year-old Armaan of Team India hit the wall backward as his car went airborne over a hump and spun on landing on a wet track at the Durban street race.

Armaan's father and team manager Akbar Ebrahim took the blame for sending his son out while it was still raining heavily but the driver himself said there could have been a mechanical problem that caused the mishap.

"The only reason other than a mechanical problem, which could have caused the problem was I might have shifted gears as I was airborne and when I landed, the wheels would have been spinning at a high speed thereby causing the car to spin around," Armaan, participating in a street race for the first time, said.

"But my gut still tells me that there was mechanical problem as a similar problem happened on the back straight causing the car to almost spin on a straight line."

The incident happened on Friday in the second practice session a few minutes after Brazilian driver Nelson Piquet Jr. crashed coming onto the pit straight.

"I probably have to put this one down to me for deciding to send Armaan out in such terrible conditions," the senior Ebrahim said.

"Only a few cars went out because the rain was so heavy and I wanted him to get as much track time as possible.

"But on seeing Piquet crash, I should have pulled him in and sent him out when the track dried out later just as most other teams did."

The A1 Team India mechanics had been working extra hard this week to build and setup the cars for the weekends race, as the narrow confines of the pit area and the incessant rain over the last two days has made working conditions very difficult.

By the time the first practice session started at 13:00 hrs local time, the rain had stopped, but the track was still very wet and slippery.

Armaan had a good first session. The initial part of the session was very wet and Armaan was getting used to the street circuit as this was his first time out in a street circuit.

As the track dried out, Armaan picked up the pace a bit and as instructed brought the car back to the pits safely as quite a few cars had an outing with the walls.

The team made some big changes for the second session and softened the car a lot to give the driver more traction in the wet.

The second official practice session was extremely wet and very few drivers went out, one of them being Armaan as he had to do a few installation laps to check certain parameters of the car.

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