Final Practice

A1 Team Australia has solved its set up problems of yesterday, making good headway towards a strong home performance in the last official practice session for the A1GP Sydney, Australia. The team moved up from twelfth place on the timing sheet yesterday to sixth place this morning, despite an earlier hiccup when refuelling which saw the nozzle burst and driver, Karl Reindler sprayed with fuel.

A1 Team Germany took over from New Zealand at the top of the time sheets with Great Britain slotting into second place ahead of New Zealand. A1 Team Great Britain were delighted with this result having made suspension changes over night which seemed to do the trick, giving them the biggest jump up the time sheets from 13th place yesterday afternoon to second today.

The same could not be said for Italy and Malaysia as they dropped down to 20th and 21st respectively. A1 Team Malaysia’s driver, Alex Yoong, was very frustrated saying that the car seemed to have the wrong set up for the track. On top of this, the master switch failed and the electronics cut out.

With the A1GP engines having reached the 250,000 kilometre mark this weekend after 18 months of racing, many of the teams are changing them. New Zealand was due to change their engine at the end of this race meeting but in fact changed it over night. Canada also has a new engine this weekend, but installed it before the start of yesterday’s practice sessions. The life of an A1GP engine is 3,500km, so the teams make this change once a year – usually mid-season.

The teams now have to decide on their final set up before qualifying for the Sprint race begins at 14.15 this afternoon. Qualifying consists of four 15 minute sessions with a five minute break between each. Only one driver per A1 Team is allowed to take part in Qualifying and that driver must have completed at least three timed laps in an Official Practice session. Each driver is limited to three laps - effectively one “flying lap” - per session and must record at least two times, an aggregate of which will determine that A1 Team’s position on the grid for Sunday’s Sprint race. The grid for the Feature race will be determined by the outcome of the Sprint race.

Official Practice Session 3 (11.00 – 12.00)

  A1 Team Driver Time No. Laps
1 Germany Nico Hulkenberg 1.21.080 19
2 Great Britain Robbie Kerr 1.21.284 23
3 New Zealand Jonny Reid 1.21.293 23
4 France Loic Duval 1.21.343 22
5 Mexico Salvador Duran 1.21.480 24
6 Australia Karl Reindler 1.21.590 25
7 South Africa Alan van der Merwe 1.21.593 25
8 Switzerland Sebastien Buemi 1.21.706 23
9 Netherlands Jeroen Bleekemolen 1.21.764 22
10 Singapore Christian Murchison 1.21.892 25
11 USA Phil Giebler 1.21.895 23
12 Canada James Hinchcliffe 1.22.023 22
13 Czech Republic Tomas Enge 1.22.069 21
14 Brazil Tuka Rocha 1.22.116 18
15 Ireland Richard Lyons 1.22.153 22
16 India Parthiva Sureshwaren 1.22.162 23
17 Lebanon Alex Khateeb 1.22.206 21
18 China Ho-Pin Tung 1.22.249 27
19 Indonesia Ananda Mikola 1.22.413 24
20 Italy Enrico Toccacelo 1.22.899 21
21 Malaysia Alex Yoong 1.23.061 14
22 Pakistan Nur Ali 1.23.756 18


A1 Team Germany has taken pole position for tomorrow’s A1GP Sydney, Australia Sprint race, putting in the fastest lap time ever round the track during the last of the four qualifying segments. Setting an aggregate time of 2:36.225, A1 Team Germany was just two tenths of a second faster than second placed New Zealand, setting the scene for a closely fought race tomorrow.

Germany’s driver, Nico Hulkenberg, who set the blistering time of 1:17.962, commented: ‘There is not a lot of grip on the circuit so it is a compromise between pushing very hard and safety, but I think I got a good lap and, of course, a very good car from the team. I knew before qualifying four that this was the main segment and very important if I wanted to be on pole, but I managed to make a very good lap. We saw the cloud coming in for the final session so that is why we decided to exit the pit earlier and it was a perfect lap.’

New Zealand’s Jonny Reid was disappointed not to be on pole but is confident of a good result for the team tomorrow: ‘It is great to be on the front row as a team, but I am a little bit disappointed that I didn’t get the top spot. Being a race driver you are competitive and that is what you aim to achieve. Nico drove well and I made a small mistake and that is the way it is.  I was behind South Africa on the last run, so my error was there and the car stepped out slightly. That is just the way it goes and you have to take the good with the bad. I shall be fighting to win tomorrow.’

A1 Team Great Britain maintained its strong performance from morning practice, delivering the second fastest lap time of the weekend but could not match this a second time, putting the car third on the grid. ‘I had a problem yesterday when I got into the car and it was not quite set up right, and so we were working up against it and did not get the best out of the tyres. We then managed to work on the car for today and got a good car. We were good on old tyres this morning and were very happy where we were,’ said driver, Robbie Kerr. ‘Unfortunately the car from practice this morning did not quite swap over to a qualifying car, but we managed to put all that together and did some competitive laps at the end. In the Sprint race it is going to be tight there with us all pushing and someone can easily make a mistake. In the Feature race it is all going to be down to who can keep it consistent and be there at the finish, so it is going to be interesting. I am not going to say out loud where you can overtake here, but I know where I overtook last year and where it is possible to do it. I know I have a good car to do that and we will see what happens tomorrow,’ he continued.

A1 Team China saw the biggest improvement from practice by qualifying sixth, with driver Ho-Pin Tung giving the team its best ever qualifying result. A1 Team USA recovered well after spinning off in the first segment, taking seventh place on the grid while good laps in earlier sessions allowed Italy to qualify 13th, despite a spin in the fourth segment.

This morning’s strong practice performance could not be repeated for home team Australia who qualified 18th. Mexico, Singapore and South Africa also failed to deliver on this morning’s early promise, qualifying towards the back of the grid. However, fortunes changed for Ireland and Malaysia who both improved on their earlier practice performances, qualifying ninth and 10th respectively.

Qualifying results

  A1 Team Driver Aggregate time Gap
1 Germany Nico Hulkenberg 2.36.225 -
2 New Zealand Jonny Reid 2.36.441 +0.216
3 Great Britain Robbie Kerr 2.36.596 +0.371
4 France Loic Duval 2.36.711 +0.486
5 Switzerland Sebastien Buemi 2.37.266 +1.041
6 China Ho-Pin Tung 2.37.280 +1.055
7 USA Phil Giebler 2.37.377 +1.152
8 Netherlands Jeroen Bleekemolen 2.37.455 +1.230
9 Ireland Richard Lyons 2.37.549 +1.324
10 Malaysia Alex Yoong 2.37.727 +1.502
11 Canada James Hinchcliffe 2.37.739 +1.514
12 Czech Republic Tomas Enge 2.37.909 +1.684
13 Italy Enrico Toccacelo 2.37.964 +1.739
14 Mexico Salvador Duran 2.38.059 +1.834
15 Indonesia Ananda Mikola 2.38.267 +2.042
16 Singapore Christian Murchison 2.38.618 +2.393
17 South Africa Alan van der Merwe 2.39.177 +2.952
18 Australia Karl Reindler 2.39.384 +3.159
19 Lebanon Alex Khateeb 2.40.276 +4.051
20 Brazil Tuka Rocha 2.40.428 +4.203
21 India Parthiva Sureshwaren 2.43.436 +7.211
22 Pakistan Nur Ali 2.44.345 +8.120

The 20-minute Sprint race will start on at 11.00 local time on Sunday 4 February 2007. The results of the Sprint race will determine the grid for the 70-minute Feature race, which will begin at 15.00 local time.

Nominated drivers for the Sprint race – A1GP Sydney, Australia
A1 Team Driver
Australia Karl Reindler
Brazil Tuka Rocha
Canada James Hinchcliffe
China Ho-Pin Tung
Czech Republic Tomas Enge
France Loic Duval
Germany Nico Hulkenberg
Great Britain Robbie Kerr
India Parthiva Sureshwaren
Indonesia Ananda Mikola
Ireland Richard Lyons
Italy Enrico Toccacelo
Lebanon Alex Khateeb
Malaysia Alex Yoong
Mexico Salvador Duran
Netherlands Jeroen Bleekemolen
New Zealand Jonny Reid
Pakistan Nur Ali
Singapore Christian Murchison
South Africa Alan van der Merwe
Switzerland Sebastien Buemi
USA Phil Giebler

Reporting by A1GP.com
Nico Hulkenberg once again took pole position for Team Germany.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Jonny Reid (Team New Zealand) took the second fastest time.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Robbie Kerr (Team Great Britain) will be delighted with third on the grid.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Loric Duval was right on the pace in fourth for Team France.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Sebastien Buemi (Team Switzerland) was half a second behind Team France.
(Picture A1GP.com)
An ever improving Ho-Pin Tung will start sixth for Team China.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Phil Giebler qualified seventh for Team USA.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Jeroen Bleekemolen waits in the pit garage in the Team Netherlands car.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Richard Lyons put in another strong run for Team Ireland.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Alex Yoong completes the top ten for Team Malaysia.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Enrico Toccacelo (Team Italy).
(Picture A1GP.com)
Tomas Enge (Team Czech Republic) will not be happy with twelfth.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Karl Reindler could do no better than eighteenth for the home fans.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Alan Jones watches over the Team Australia pit.
(Picture A1GP.com)
A brake-locking moment for James Hinchcliffe (Team Canada).
(Picture A1GP.com)
Alex Khateeb (Team Lebanon).
(Picture A1GP.com)