A1 Team Malaysia, one of the 22 nations competing in the World Cup of Motorsport, head to Brno race track in the Czech Republic this weekend for the second round of the 2007/08 season. After the team’s difficulties at the opening race in Zandvoort, The Netherlands, the team hopes to have the same dominating form they had at the Brno circuit last season, where the team won both the Sprint and the Feature races in stunning and commanding style.

The Masaryk Automotodrom Brno circuit is the most famous racing circuit in the Czech Republic. It is 5.4 km in length with 14 turns, and this twisty, undulating track is a favourite of motorbike and car racers. Driver Alex Yoong, will once again be on track for Team Malaysia at Brno, with rookie driver Aaron Lim taking up Friday testing duties ahead of the race on Sunday. Yoong, who drove the team to victory during last season’s races, will be aiming for a repeat of the two wins, pole position and fastest lap they achieved in Brno last year.

The Zandvoort weekend ended in an uncharacteristic no points finish for the Malaysian team. Whilst battling hard in the feature race, driver Alex Yoong pulled into the pitlane with mechanical issues, which turned out to be terminal for the car. Having crossed the line in 16th in the Sprint, the retirement in the Feature was a disappointing end to a potential points scoring weekend for the team.

Driver Alex Yoong commented: “Last year we finished Zandvoort with zero points too. So we go to Brno to try and do the same job that we did last year and come back with a decent haul of points to kick start our championship.

“Zandvoort was a tough weekend, we had issues with getting our tyres up to temperature during the qualifying and we only realised what the problem was close to the end of the session. Hopefully as we move onto Brno we can put last weekend behind us and get a good result there. Brno is a beautiful smooth circuit and it was very good to us last year as we managed to win both races and get fastest lap. Hopefully it will be kind to us again this season. We are all looking forward to going back there again.”

Jack Cunningham, Chief Executive A1 Team Malaysia commented: “Zandvoort was a not a great start to our season, where from qualifying things were against us. However, we’re a strong team and we will do our very best to bounce back at Brno, where we had our best race weekend last year.  It will not be an easy task to repeat, particularly with the quality of the competition, but we will try. There is a field of very talented drivers in A1GP competing against us, so the racing will be close and tough. We will do our very best to challenge for a strong points finish.”

ALEX YOONG’S GUIDE TO A1GP

After the rain of Zandvoort, next stop on the calendar is the Brno race track, situated in the beautiful Czech Republic. Last year Team Malaysia had an amazing race, we dominated the weekend with a win in both the Sprint and Feature races, so the Brno track holds special memories for us. This year we can only hope to emulate that success, on the winding, challenging circuit that is the Automotodrom Brno.

The Czech Republic is situated approximately in the geographical centre of Europe and has an area of 78,866 square km. It is a landlocked country from the Baltic and the Adriatic, it shares borders with Germany, Poland, Austria and Slovakia.

Brno is the second-largest city in the Czech Republic and is the capital of South Moravia; it is the gateway to wineries, rolling hills, hiking trails galore, caves and a fantastic race circuit. The track is built in a modern style, winding its way around a natural bowl. The circuit comprises many medium speed corners and a long start finish straight, which starts at the top of a hill and winds down into a valley, then back up the hill through the other side of the valley. The track is banked in places which gives spectators an excellent view.

Brno has a long history of motor racing. The first races were run as a checkpoint for the Vienna – WrocBaw race in 1904; in the 1920s, the town hosted the Brno – Sobesice hillclimb race; and in the 1930s, all races were held on the street course which led through the streets of the western part of the town and neighbouring villages, such as Bosonohy and Zebetín. Races were temporarily suspended from 1937 to 1940. Since 1968, Brno has been a popular fixture on the Czech ETCC circuit, and has held motorcycle races since 1965. The road course ceased to be used at the end of 1986 when all motorsport activities resumed at the permanent track, which was completed in 1985 in the northwest section of the town. It now hosts the Moto GP and A1GP.

However, if you’re thinking of heading over to Brno to check out some of the racing, try to combine it with a trip to Prague, which is definitely one of the most beautiful cities in the whole world.

Here are some other useful tips if you ever find yourself in Brno:

  1. Overcome the language barrier on your Brno trip:
    • Hello – Dobry den
    • Bye – Na shledanou
    • Please – Prosim
    • Thanks – Dekuji
  2. The regional gastronomy specialities include – traditional feast cakes, wonderful fruit, roast duck or famous Znojmo gherkins.
  3. In 2006 the winner of the Miss World competition was from the Czech Republic, the country is renowned for having some of the world’s most beautiful ladies (not that I’d be looking of course!)
  4. Currently, the lap record around the Brno circuit by an A1GP car is held by Team Malaysia, we set a time of 1:47,296 seconds during the 2006 Sprint Race.
  5. Malaysian Airlines flies to Frankfurt 5 times per week, with regular transfers from there to Brno or Prague airports.

Here is a turn by turn guide to the Brno circuit:

Turn 1 is the fastest corner on the circuit and you only brake after you have started to turn in. Then it’s down two gears to 4th as you carry as much speed through the corner as possible. At the exit of turn 1 is where you will find the only bump on this smooth circuit and you have to be careful over it, as it can put you into a spin quite quickly.

Turn 2 is not a corner, just part of the straight.

Turn 3 is about braking into the corner. You must not be too aggressive as you can carry a fair bit of speed. You also have to make sure you are not too far on the right at the exit as you then need to get about half of the track width back to the left for turn 4. Turn 4 is a 90 degree right hander and you need to get on the power as early as possible as it leads onto a straight.

Brake as late as you can for turn 5 and make sure you use lots of curb on the exit.

You lift slightly for turn 6 and on new tyres you are almost flat on the gas through this corner.

For turn 7 you attack the corner straight after turn 6 so you really don’t have much time to catch your breath here. It’s important to have a good car balance here with good traction as it is a little slippery on the exit.

Turn 8 is where I overtook for the lead and eventual win last year in the feature race. You brake into the corner and must be careful not to carry too much speed here as it leads straight into turn 9.

Turn 9 is all about getting on the power early as you have a long straight that follows.

Turn 10 is a very wide corner and you have a few different lines to choose from. You can overtake here is you get a good drive out of turn 9.

Turn 11 and 12 is an up hill chicane and to be quick here, you need to use as much curb over the apex as possible.

Turn 13 is a straight forward corner except that you have to stay over on the left hand side of the track on the exit. This is because it leads onto turn 14 which is a quick corner that you accelerate through. A well balanced car should allow you to be almost flat with the throttle on new tyres, but beware the car will move a lot through this corner.

PROTON AND A1 TEAM MALAYSIA SIGN THREE-SEASON DEAL

PROTON and A1 Team Malaysia further strengthened their winning partnership with the signing of a sponsorship agreement on Friday 28 September 2007 for the next three seasons beginning with the 2007/2008 season.

The agreement reaffirms PROTON’s commitment to promoting motorsport in Malaysia while serving as a platform for PROTON to enhance its brand name in the international arena.

The A1GP World Cup of Motorsport is a recognized global motorsport series with more than 22 countries participating this season.

“As a national company we are proud to be able to support our homegrown talents and provide them with all the support they need to develop and grow.  They have shown significant improvement over the years and are proving to be a force to be reckoned with. We have every confidence in their ability and our agreement to sponsor the team for another three seasons is proof of our commitment to their development,” said PROTON Holdings Berhad Managing Director Dato’ Haji Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir at the signing ceremony.

Syed Zainal signed the sponsorship agreement on behalf of PROTON while A1 Team Malaysia was represented by Commercial Director, Owen Leed.

“We came on board as sponsors in the inaugural season which was in 2005/2006. We have enjoyed a good relationship with A1 Team Malaysia throughout this time and are optimistic of their growth and performance in this sport. This partnership is not only beneficial to the team but also for PROTON and Malaysia as it provides an excellent branding avenue for us on an international field,” he added.

A1 Team Malaysia will play a prominent role in PROTON’s marketing programmes.

“We’ve always had a close and good relationship with A1 Team Malaysia. They’ve been involved in our product launches and motorshows in the past and will continue to feature in similar events in the future. Our partnership is one based on quality, performance and achievement and we hope to have our customers and staff share in this experience by creating opportunities for them to get closer to the team whenever and wherever possible.” he said.  The partnership between PROTON and A1 Team Malaysia will further add value to the company as it facilitates knowledge transfer.  Exchange programmes will be drawn up for selected PROTON staff allowing them to glean technical as well as commercial know-how from international experts. The partnership also enhances a learning environment providing an opportunity for PROTON to gain knowledge from the high-profile, high-tech international world of motorsport.

A1 Team Malaysia ended last season as the best Asian team when they, led by drivers Alex Yoong and Fairuz Fauzy, supported by rookie Aaron Lim, finished sixth overall in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport.

“The team did very well last year and we’ve been working very hard to improve our performance for this season. It’s going to be an exciting season all round and with a Malaysian round scheduled for November 25 2007 at Sepang International Circuit, local motorsport fans will have the opportunity to see for themselves the caliber and quality of the sport.  We work, through this sponsorship and commercial partnership with PROTON, to represent Malaysia’s involvement in this series and to assist PROTON in spreading the word of their excellent range of vehicles,” said Leed.

A1GP is the first opportunity in any area of motorsport for nations to compete on a level playing field. It is a racing series where performance is determined by bravery, skill and excellence. The team and driver combine to create their advantage and the winning nation raises its flag in celebration. A1GP brings together 23 nations actively competing on a level playing field.

About PROTON

PROTON, established in 1983, is Malaysia’s largest manufacturer of automobiles. With operations in key market centres from UK and Western Europe to the Middle East, and across South-East Asia and Australasia, PROTON produces cars to suit a range of consumer demands and preferences.  The offerings include versatile and reliable four-door family vehicles, two-door hatchbacks for the young-at-heart, luxurious and stylish executive sedans, as well as the world-renowned sports cars from Lotus.

PROTON’s inception as a key driver of national development has seen the brand accelerate its learning curve through technology transfer with strategic partnerships and technical collaborations. PROTON cars are now steadily on track to achieving the mission for the future, gearing up to achieve the promise of a marquee which build cars with passion and soul; cars which are a delight to drive and a pleasure to own.