Final Practice

Rookie drivers Oliver Jarvis and Renger van der Zande set the pace in the final practice session for this morning’s A1GP Mexico City, Mexico this morning with Great Britain and the Netherlands topping the timing sheets and setting a strong challenge for the regular race drivers.

In a shake up of yesterday’s results, India, Brazil, the Czech Republic and Portugal all made dramatic improvements to move up the timing sheets with the usual race leaders New Zealand and Germany coming in fourth and 11th respectively. The 2006/07 championship title is within reach of both teams and a strong performance from Germany could see them leave Mexico City with the title sown up. Both will be looking to improve on this morning’s performance ahead of this afternoon’s Sprint race qualifying session.

For Great Britain and the Netherlands, qualifying will pose new challenges to both drivers with neither having taken part in this stage of an A1GP weekend before. Van der Zande is also set to take part in his first A1GP race, driving in tomorrow’s Sprint race before handing the wheel back to main driver Jeroen Bleekemolen for the Feature race.

The teams now have to decide on their 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

1 Oliver JARVIS GREAT BRITAIN 01:27.641 183
2 Renger VAN DER ZANDE NETHERLANDS 01:27.694 183
3 Narain KARTHIKEYAN INDIA 01:27.807 182
4 Jonny REID NEW ZEALAND 01:28.090 182
5 Bruno JUNQUEIRA BRAZIL 01:28.115 182
6 Janis JAREK CZECH REPUBLIC 01:28.199 182
7 Alvaro PARENTE PORTUGAL 01:28.278 181
8 Ian DYK AUSTRALIA 01:28.293 181
9 Jean Karl VERNAY FRANCE 01:28.327 181
10 Salvador DURAN MEXICO 01:28.353 181
11 Christian VIETORIS GERMANY 01:28.442 181
12 Enrico TOCCACELO ITALY 01:28.464 181
13 Alex YOONG MALAYSIA 01:28.525 181
14 Ho-Pin TUNG CHINA 01:28.642 181
15 Jonathan SUMMERTON USA 01:28.740 180
16 Adrian ZAUGG SOUTH AFRICA 01:28.944 180
17 James HINCHCLIFFE CANADA 01:29.054 180
18 Marcel FASSLER SWITZERLAND 01:29.120 180
19 Ananda MIKOLA INDONESIA 01:29.190 180
20 Richard LYONS IRELAND 01:29.467 179
21 Allam KHODAIR LEBANON 01:30.188 178
22 Nur ALI PAKISTAN 01:30.447 177


A1 Team Malaysia has taken its first Sprint race pole of the 2006/07 season showing the rookies who topped the morning practice session that experience pays when the pressure is on. Germany’s Christian Vietoris, competing in his first full race weekend qualified alongside Malaysia’s Alex Yoong on the front row of the grid, continuing the nation’s charge for the championship title.

After fixing the electronic failure that saw Malaysia retire early from the third practice session, Alex Yoong recorded the fastest lap in three of the four qualifying segments. He commented: ‘The car was very good. We struggled a little bit in the morning, but I think it is important that we didn’t panic. We thought it was the tyres with them going off a little bit more than we expected but the car was very strong for qualifying.’

Talking about his race prospects, Yoong went on to say: ‘I am confident that tomorrow will be good. We did have concerns we were using the tyres too hard yesterday and this morning, we know what the problem is and we will fix it and the car will be fine tomorrow.’

For Germany’s Vietoris, who is stepping in while regular driver Nico Hülkenberg fulfils prior commitments elsewhere, the weekend has been a steep learning curve. ‘I have to work hard the whole weekend on the car and I have learn a lot now. Friday was a good day as we worked a lot on the car and I am happy with how the weekend has gone. We made some changes between sessions two and three and for qualifying four it was the best car,’ he said.

Fellow rookie, Oliver Jarvis put in a strong performance for A1 Team Great Britain, sitting on the second row of the grid after his first ever A1GP qualifying session. Jarvis drove for the British team in Beijing but, with qualifying cancelled, today presented his first opportunity to show the speed of his flying laps. ‘We have a very strong car here. We have stepped up and up and we will see what happens tomorrow,’ he commented.

Jarvis continued: ‘I think it is probably the most difficult track we go to. In sections two and three you have consecutive corners going into each other. You are probably going to see a few guys making mistakes as the race goes on. It is also going to make it very difficult to be consistent with the bumps. However, we have a consistent car and I hope we can come through and get a good result.’

Host nation Mexico, will start the Sprint race from fourth on the grid after a consistent performance saw Salvador Duran in the top five fastest laps in all of the last thee segments. Duran commented: ‘The car is very good and the team have done a great job but I am still working for tomorrow to be better.  I think we have the car to finish in the top three in the Feature race and I think it will depend on the weather. I feel very good, I feel I can go for it. This is my home town so I have to race with my heart. I hope I can do.’

For A1 Team New Zealand, a disappointing qualifying session has placed Jonny Reid 14th on the grid, the first time this season that Black Beauty has not been seen on the front two rows. Being one of only two teams that can challenge Germany’s title hopes, the unexpected grid position will force the team to take another look at the car’s set up in order to deliver a strong performance in tomorrow’s two races.

A1 Teams Brazil and USA’s failure to clock a time in one of the three sessions did not hinder their progress with both teams qualifying in the top ten, despite spins in segments one and four respectively. Pakistan’s spin in the third segment caused the only red flag of the session but the car was quickly re-started and segment resumed in time for all other teams to get on track for their flying lap.

Tomorrow’s Sprint race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez will start at 11.00 local time and will determine the grid positions for the afternoon’s 70-minute Feature race.

Qualifying results

  A1 Team Driver Aggregate time Gap first
1 Malaysia Alex Yoong 2.53.138 +
2 Germany Christian Vietoris 2.53.983 +0.845
3 Great Britain Oliver Jarvis 2.54.271 +1.133
4 Mexico Salvador Duran 2.54.705 +1.567
5 France Jean Karl Vernay 2.54.820 +1.682
6 Portugal Alvaro Parente 2.54.865 +1.727
7 Brazil Bruno Junqueira 2.54.904 +1.766
8 USA Jonathan Summerton 2.54.918 +1.780
9 Australia Ian Dyk 2.54.935 +1.797
10 Italy Enrico Toccacelo 2.55.056 +1.918
11 South Africa Adrian Zaugg 2.55.071 +1.933
12 China Ho Pin Tung 2.55.170 +2.032
13 Indonesia Ananda Mikola 2.55.223 +2.085
14 New Zealand Jonny Reid 2.55.358 +2.220
15 Czech Republic Janis Jarek 2.55.538 +2.400
16 Netherlands Renger van der Zande 2.55.710 +2.572
17 India Narain Karthikeyan 2.55.949 +2.811
18 Switzerland Marcel Fassler 2.56.002 +2.864
19 Canada James Hinchcliffe 2.56.120 +2.982
20 Ireland Richard Lyons 2.57.300 +4.162
21 Lebanon Allam Khodair 2.58.575 +5.437
22 Pakistan Nur Ali 3.00.239 +7.101

Nominated drivers for the Sprint race – A1GP Mexico City, Mexico

A1 Team Driver
Australia Ian Dyk
Brazil Bruno Junqueira
Canada James Hinchcliffe
China Ho Pin Tung
Czech Republic Janis Jarek
France Jean Karl Vernay
Germany Christian Vietoris
Great Britain Oliver Jarvis
India Narain Karthikeyan
Indonesia Ananda Mikola
Ireland Richard Lyons
Italy Enrico Toccacelo
Lebanon Allam Khodair
Malaysia Alex Yoong
Mexico Salavador Duran
Netherlands Renger van der Zande
New Zealand Jonny Reid
Pakistan Nur Ali
Portugal Alvaro Parente
South Africa Adrian Zaugg
Switzerland Marcel Fassler
USA Jonathan Summerton

Reporting by A1GP.com
Alex Yoong (Team Malaysia) was in a class of his own all through qualifying.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Christian Vietoris stunned everyone by taking the second fastest time on his A1GP debut for Team Germany.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Oliver Jarvis (Team Great Britain) was a very competitive third.
(Picture A1GP.com)
The home fans will be delighted with Salvador Duran's fourth place for Team Mexico.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Jean Karl Vernay was another stunning debut performance, fifth for Team France.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Team Portugal and Alvaro Parente are right on the pace after their return to A1GP.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Bruno Junqueira (Team Brazil), an off and seventh fastest time.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Jonathan Summerton has once again looked good in the Team USA car.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Ian Dyk has moved the Team Australia car nearer to the front of the grid.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Tenth place for Enrico Toccacelo and Team Italy .
(Picture A1GP.com)
Renger van der Zande will be disappointed with sixteenth in the Team Netherlands car.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Adrian Zaugg and Team South Africa are starting to show a return to last year's form.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Another confident outing for Ho Pin Tung (Team China).
(Picture A1GP.com)
Marcel Fassler (Team Switzerland) was off the pace.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Jonny Reid and Team New Zealand were baffled by their lack of qualifying speed.
(Picture A1GP.com)
The cars line up ready for qualifying.
(Picture A1GP.com)
Salvador Duran, Christian Vietoris, Alex Yoong and Oliver Jarvis at the post-qualifying press conference.
(Picture A1GP.com)
The Mexican fans were out in force for the drivers autograph session.
(Picture A1GP.com)