Since the first day's practice sessions were cancelled, organizers decided to extend the final two practice sessions the following day to 90 minutes so that drivers could familiarize themselves with the brand new course. Unfortunately, 25 minutes into the event's third practice session a manhole cover positiioned right on the racing line in between turns three and four came loose and resulted in the last two practice sessions being cancelled while all the manhole covers on the track were securely resealed using bolts.
The A1GP organizers plan to squeeze in one more short practice session for the driver's today before the supporting races and the feature race takes place. The A1GP has many draws, not the least of which is the far out locales it visits to bring motorsports to the masses. This type of trouble is the price you pay, we suppose, for racing where it's never been done before, though credit goes to the organization for overcoming not one, but two major obstacles that could have easily caused the series third race to be cancelled.
Follow the jump for some quotes offered by A1GP's COO David Clare on the strange circumstances that have befallen his series in China.
A1GP COO, David Clare
Can you explain the situation where we are now?
"The first thing is every temporary street circuit has its own issues and it is something that only comes together on a Thursday afternoon or evening at the best and we understand that is the issue and so that is why we only scheduled two support races for this weekend because we have to swap things around. I think the most important thing is the races will go ahead tomorrow. We have had some issues with the lay-out of the track which we resolved over night and people were working all through the night to do that., and I think that has produced a better track."
What solutions are you looking at for the manhole cover?
"The manhole cover that was the issue was actually on the racing line and was slightly raised up and took a lot of impact from cars. Obviously what happened there was the welds that held it down didn't secure the manhole cover. Luckily our Race Director spotted them immediately and his quick response saved anybody from getting injured. As a result of that, what we are doing is going round every manhole cover on the track, re-securing with a different method with bolts and we are making sure there is absolutely not chance of them moving.
What is the plan for tomorrow?
"Fundamentally we would like the teams to run a bit more in the morning and we are looking to a schedule which we will announce later. The races will be at the original length and certainly the Feature Race will be at 15.00 as scheduled. We may be moving up the Sprint Race a little bit to allow us to put in some extra practice time."