Motorsport

SA switch A1GP drivers

2009-04-28 08:42
New face behind the wheel (File)
London - South Africa will field a new A1GP driver for the first time since 2007 when Alan van der Merwe returns to take the wheel at the Kent, England circuit in Round seven this weekend.

The 29-year-old former British Formula 3 champion (in 2003) and one time Honda F1 test driver last represented his country in A1GP in Shanghai in Round 10 of season two. His recall comes as a result of the non-availability of regular driver Adrian Zaugg, who will be competing in Round two of the World Series by Renault at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium this weekend.

"The WSR opportunity is important for Adrian's racing future and he has our full support," said Mike Carroll, general manager of the South African team. "WSR is an established stepping stone to Formula One, with drivers like Poland's Robert Kubica and Germany's Sebastian Vettel among recent graduates."

"We're delighted to have secured the services of an experienced driver like Alan at such short notice," added Carroll. "He already has eight A1GP races for South Africa under his belt and has a good racing knowledge of Brands Hatch."

Van der Merwe has kept his hand in with various different drives in the intervening period, including being involved last year with Aston Martin in an endurance racing GT2 sports car development project and, in 2009, driving the Formula 1 medical car (a modified Mercedes C63 AMG). He was naturally delighted to receive the call-up while at last week's Bahrain Grand Prix.

"It's the best news I've had in a long time," he said. "It's a brilliant opportunity and quite unexpected. I'm really looking forward to driving the new car. I know Brands Hatch well (he won the annual Formula Ford Festival there in 2001 and was crowned British F3 champion at the Kent circuit in 2003) and hope I can help South Africa improve its position in the championship this weekend."

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