Do you remember the A1GP series that was started by Sheikh Maktoum of Dubai in 2003? If you do, or even if you don’t, the two things that were most memorable about the series (other than it was trying to rival F1) was that the drivers represented their countries, not themselves and that at the back end of the series’ life each car was powered by the multi road and race 4.5litre V8 F136 engine from Ferrari.
Although the series lasted until the end of the 2009 season it lurched from problem to issue to problem again – mainly over money/funding and the whole subject of countries not drivers.
As the races in 2010 were cancelled one by one it was obvious that the series had foundered and so the recriminations began…
Ownership of the series’ cars was disputed at the High Court of Justice in London in January 2010. The Administrator won the case and stated he was trying to obtain the best price in liquidation for the Series.
The liquidators appointed GoIndustry DoveBid to handle the sale of the assets and the liquidators were seeking £10 million for the assets.
Between then and now (a full 6 racing seasons) there have been numerous rumours and announcements that new investors are “in” and the son of A1GP was go………………………..But it has not happened.
However, this time things may be real and may be happening.
In May this year, AFRIX Motorsport of South Africa announced that they had purchased the remaining 21 ‘Powered by Ferrari’ A1GP cars along with all the engines and their spares but without the engine mamangement systems and all bar one steering wheel!
They bought this package from Delivered on Time, a freight company that had been granted a lien on the race cars in place of unpaid bills. Autosport magazine reported that the sale was worth approximately US$1.5m.
AFRIX was intending to run a one make series in SA 2015/16 southern hemisphere summer. (Note here that this date has already come and gone as it is 2015 southern summer now!).
Given the date creep it was good to see that one of these cars was tested last week for the first time. Whilst the chassis and aerodynamics (essentially a 2004 F1 Ferrari) remain unchanged from the 2008/09 configuration, the car ran with new engine electronics supplied by Life Racing in the UK for the Ferrari direct-injection V8 powerplant.
The car was tested for four days at the South African Phakisa Freeway circuit near Welkom, 250km south of Johannesburg. Dan Clarke, a former Champ Car racer was the test driver, with Alan Eve, one of the partners in AFRIX, telling Autosport: “Dan got out the car and was gobsmacked, he said you couldn’t believe the horsepower and the torque…We weren’t running at full throttle, so there’s probably 70bhp to come, but the sound was still amazing…Life has done an amazing job and the partnership is working really well.”
AFRIX is now planning a series that would start September 2016 and run through the South African summer of 2016/17.
So, the moral of the story; don’t throw out your old race chassis as someone, somewhere, has got a use for it!
Roger Grimshaw – NMA Tutor