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Rediff News  All News  » Sports » Piquet double gives Brazil a winning A1 debut

Piquet double gives Brazil a winning A1 debut

September 26, 2005 00:25 IST

Brazil kicked off the new A1 Grand Prix series at Brands Hatch with a dominant double victory for Nelson Piquet junior on Sunday.

Piquet, whose father and namesake was three times a Formula One champion, collected an extra point for the fastest lap after starting both the opening sprint and second feature race from pole position.

"I am really really happy, it feels like my first race win," he said. "Obviously I am happy to be the first driver to win the first race of a new championship."

Coming from a country that has won the soccer World Cup five times, Piquet was a fitting first winner in a 25 nation team championship that is marketing itself as the "World Cup of Motorsport".

The teams, painted in national colours, use identical Lola cars with similar tyres and 520 bhp engines.

Only countries take points, not drivers, with the top 10 all scoring in each race.

Brazil, with a team co-owned by Real Madrid striker Ronaldo and former Formula One champion Emerson Fittipaldi, lead the standings with 21 points to Australia's 16 and New Zealand's 15.

Australian Will Power was second in the main race, ahead of Mexican Salvador Duran.

"We weren't quick enough to win it," said Power, who had led with 10 laps to go before Piquet passed at Surtees corner and romped away.

"It would have been hard to keep Nelsinho behind me for the whole race. But it's a really good result for Australia to be on the podium."

Piquet led France's Alexandre Premat and New Zealand's Matt Halliday all the way to the flag in the first race.

The safety car was called out in the feature race when Lebanese driver Khalil Beschir crashed spectacularly after cutting across Italian Enrico Toccacelo at Paddock corner.

In a test of strength for the Lola chassis, the Lebanese car lifted off and barrel-rolled into the gravel without injuring the driver, who got out and waved to the estimated 80,000-strong crowd.

Dutch driver Jos Verstappen, who was once Michael Schumacher's team mate in Formula One, retired in the sprint race after being hit from behind by the South African car.

The brainchild of Sheikh Maktoum Hasher Maktoum al Maktoum, a nephew of the Crown Prince of Dubai, the 12-race series is designed to fill the European winter when Formula One is absent.

The debut race coincided however with the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix.

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