A1GP New Zealand races Boeing 777

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

An Air New Zealand Boeing 777 and A1GP Team New Zealand's car held two races together at an operational airport today.

Auckland International Airport this morning (NZDT) offered the use of a runway for the national airline of New Zealand and the national A1GP team to race against each other.

The A1GP car nicknamed Black Beauty was driven by official race driver, Jonny Reid; and the commercial airliner codenamed NZ Alpha One (NZA1) piloted by Captain Dave Morgan.

Mr Reid said, "I've never been on a such a wide track before and it was fantastic looking across and seeing the Boeing 777 alongside me - it was something else altogether."

Captain Morgan was able to win the first race against Mr Reid after it was given a head start due to its slow start time. NZA1 left the tarmac traveling at around 270 km/h, whereas Black Beauty had just sped past at 300 km/h.

In the second race, Black Beauty managed to win despite having a slower start due to surface water on the runway. But water was not too much of a problem because the track was straight, Mr Reid says.

Black Beauty was not able to reach its top speed due to a speed limiter being required for A1GP races.

Prior to the commencement of the first race, Captain Morgan said that the biggest challenge he faces is trying to keep NZA1 on the ground due to less fuel than normally on a test flight, and no passengers.

Auckland International Airport managed to accommodate the race while just adjusting scheduled times and keeping the rest of the airport fully functional after being approached with the deal six-months ago. The airport has never closed since opening 42-years ago.

The stunt was used for promotion of the next race, to be held on January 20 at Taupo, New Zealand. Twenty-one nations will be arriving to take part in the sprint and feature race. Team New Zealand is currently ranked third in overall standings.