A1 Team New Zealand has laid down the challenge for its neighbour and sporting rival by setting the fastest lap time in this afternoon’s official practice session at A1 Team Australia’s home race. A1 Team New Zealand was followed closely by France and Germany, with a troubled Australia coming in 12th with a time of 1.20.669.

Australian driver Karl Reindler explained that problems with the car affected the team’s performance: ‘The car doesn’t feel right at the moment. We had a plan for the practice session and we had a list of things we wanted to try, but from the word go as we left the pits we had a problem. I am not sure exactly what the problem was, but the clutch was slipping and we actually had to take the car back into the garage. Once I eventually got out I had a lot of oversteer everywhere to the point I have never felt this much oversteer in my life. The guys are down there now, having a look, checking over the car as it almost feels like something has broken, but we will review everything and see how it goes in the morning.’

A1 Team Australia seat holder, Alan Jones, went on to say: ‘An hour goes terribly quickly when you are having problems, so we have got to try and get it right tonight as we really have only got that one hour in the morning and then we go straight into qualifying. If we start tomorrow morning with a problem that has the same sort of characteristics it does not give us the time to straighten it out.

‘I think every team has had their little problems here and there. These cars are so very similar it is like a cog they have only just got to be out of skew a little bit and that is a second or a second and a half, and a second or a second and a half in this field means the difference between first and last. You would be surprised even though the cars are all identical there is a perfect set up. There is a sort of cog and you have to get it all matching it has just got to be out of skew a little bit and you are in more trouble than the early settlers.’

The New Zealand driver Jonny Reid, heading into the Eastern Creek round from a podium finish in front of his home crowd two weeks earlier, commented: ‘We were on the track quite a bit but we just made a lot of changes, experimenting with the chassis and trying to gain an advantage.’

Having not taken part in the morning’s wet rookie session, the team have only had the opportunity to prepare for a dry set up. ‘I hope this weekend not running in the first session does not come back and bite us. It is a bit of a disadvantage not getting that wet run but in saying that, we do have some information from Germany and we will see what happens if it is wet,’ explained Reid.

The day started with two 25-minute sessions open to developing motorsport nations and rookie drivers only. A1 Team USA led the way in wet conditions setting a fastest time of 1.36.569 despite it only being driver, Jonathan Summerton’s second time in the car, and the first time he had run in wet conditions.

Summerton commented: ‘It was a lot of fun being out there for the first time in the car in the wet.  I had to bed brakes in and I got into the rhythm, started going faster and faster and got used to the track, and of course in the end it paid off.  It is a very difficult track, and considering this is the first time I have come here I was not expecting so much elevation change from the video games. However, it was fun, took a bit to learn but in the end it worked out fine.’

After a further free practice session at 11.00 in the morning, Qualifying for the Sprint race will take place with four 15 minute sessions between 14.15 and 15.30.

Official Practice Session 1 (11.00 – 12.00) – Rookie drivers and developing nations only (wet session)

  A1 Team Driver Time No. Laps
1 USA   1.36.569 21
2 Germany Christian Vietoris 1.36.910 23
3 Netherlands Renger van der Zande 1.37.209 20
4 Switzerland Marcel Fassler 1.37.518 21
5 France Loic Duval 1.37.822 22
6 Singapore Christian Murchison 1.38.055 19
7 South Africa Alan van der Merwe 1.38.220 15
8 Australia Ian Dyk 1.38.524 22
9 Great Britain Oliver Jarvis 1.38.530 15
10 Italy Enrico Toccacelo 1.38.542 17
11 China Ho-Pin Tung 1.38.623 20
12 Brazil Tuka Rocha 1.38.690 17
13 Ireland Richard Lyons 1.39.262 19
14 Mexico Sergio Perez 1.39.294 16
15 Lebanon Alex Khateeb 1.39.830 18
16 India Parthiva Sureshwaren 1.43.816 16
17 Indonesia Moreno Soeprapto 1.45.544 15
18 Pakistan Nur Ali 1.54.583 18

Official Practice session 2 (14.00 – 15.00)

  A1 Team Driver Time No. Laps
1 New Zealand Jonny Reid 1.19.223 20
2 France Loic Duval 1.19.410 19
3 Germany Nico Hulkenberg 1.19.518 21
4 Czech Republic Tomas Enge 1.19.594 25
5 Mexico Salvador Duran 1.19.688 21
6 Switzerland Sebastien Buemi 1.19.972 24
7 South Africa Alan van der Merwe 1.20.153 9
8 Netherlands Jeroen Bleekemolen 1.20.274 25
9 Ireland Richard Lyons 1.20.320 22
10 USA Phil Giebler 1.20.337 22
11 Singapore Christian Murchison 1.20.521 24
12 Australia Karl Reindler 1.20.569 22
13 Great Britain Robbie Kerr 1.20.695 19
14 Malaysia Alex Yoong 1.20.706 25
15 Italy Enrico Toccacelo 1.20.834 21
16 Indonesia Ananda Mikola 1.20.947 21
17 China Ho-Pin Tung 1.20.987 17
18 Brazil Tuka Rocha 1.21.763 15
19 Canada James Hinchcliffe 1.21.901 25
20 Lebanon Alex Khateeb 1.22.152 21
21 India Parthiva Sureshwaren 1.23.660 24
22 Pakistan Nur Ali 1.24.334 30

Reporting by A1GP.com
Team New Zealand lead the rest of the pack at the end of day 1.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Loric Duval and Team France kept up their improved form.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Nico Hulkenberg helps prepare the Team Germany car.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Tomas Enge (Team Czech Republic) was fourth fastest.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Salvador Duran and Team Mexico were back at the front.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Sebastien Buemi (Team Switzerland) looked good.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Richard Lyons has moved Team Ireland into the top ten.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Robbie Kerr and Team Great Britain will be disappointed with thirteenth...
(Picture A1GP.com)
...as will Team Australia and Karl Reindler with twelfth.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Ho-Pin Tung (Team China) viewed through the trees.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Jonathan Summerton was very impressive for Team USA in the Rookie session.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Jeroen Bleekemolen (Team Netherlands) was his usual competitive self.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Parthiva Sureshwaren is in the Team India car this weekend.
(Picture A1GP.com)