A1GP - TAUPO, NEW ZEALAND: QUALIFYING DAY 1
A1 Team France topped the time sheets in the second of today's two free practice sessions at Taupo as all 22 drivers took to the track with biofuel in their tanks, making history at round five of the 2007/08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport season. Despite not taking part in the rookie session this morning, 25-year-old French driver Loic Duval clocked the best lap of the day, completing the 3.5km circuit in 1m15.545s in glorious sunshine.
'It was a good session for us especially without the rookie session this morning', Duval said. 'We worked with the data from last year and I think the car was great, I feel really good here. Actually it means nothing to be on the front row on Friday, it happened many times last year and I didn't get pole position, so that is my target for tomorrow.'
The magnificent Lake Taupo provides the backdrop for one of the most picturesque races of the season and Duval sites the event as one of the highlights on the A1GP calendar:
'For me this is the best country we go to, it's really good here. It feels more like a holiday. I love the track, the people, the mentality, it's just perfect to be here.'
Ireland's Adam Carroll, who was the quickest man on track in the first 25-minute practice segment this morning, set the second fastest time of the day while championship leader Switzerland's Neel Jani finished third, just over a tenth of a second off the emerald green car.
Defending champion Germany's Christian Vietoris has been on strong form all day and the 18-year-old from Gönnersdorf set the fourth fastest time of the day while USA's Jonathan Summerton took the fifth spot. A1 Team Great Britain driver Robbie Kerr finished the day in sixth place, closely followed by Canada's Robert Wickens in seventh, who was on superb form in this morning's rookie session.
Home nation A1 Team New Zealand's Jonny Reid was eighth quickest this afternoon but remains optimistic for the weekend ahead. The 24-year-old from Auckland finished the day eighth fastest overall.
'It was a very tough session,' Reid said. 'Everyone was very very tight in the times but we've got some areas where we can improve. The track conditions were changing a lot and obviously we didn't get as close as we would have liked, but there's still plenty of time over these early days. There's not too much to change overnight really. We had a small problem which we will improve but if we actually look at all my sector times I'm sure we're very close to France, so we just need to capitalise on one small area and hopefully we will be there.'
Australia's new lead driver John Martin was an impressive second fastest in both sessions this morning, finally ending the day in 12th place behind Italy's Edoardo Piscopo.
The times are just under a second slower than last year, largely due to Turn 12 being a much tighter corner, designed to increase overtaking opportunities.
Official Practice Session 1 - Rookie drivers and developing nations only
POS DRIVER A1 TEAM TIME1 Robert WICKENS CANADA 01:17.1
2 John MARTIN AUSTRALIA 01:17.2
3 Adam CARROLL IRELAND 01:17.3
4 Christian VIETORIS GERMANY 01:17.4
5 Brendon HARTLEY NEW ZEALAND 01:17.5
6 David GARZA MEXICO 01:17.7
7 Arie LUYENDYK NETHERLANDS 01:17.8
8 Edoardo PISCOPO ITALY 01:17.9
9 Chris ALAJAJIAN LEBANON 01:18.0
10 Charlie KIMBALL USA 01:18.0
11 Wesleigh ORR SOUTH AFRICA 01:18.4
12 James WINSLOW GREAT BRITAIN 01:18.4
13 Satrio HERMANTO INDONESIA 01:18.8
14 Clemente DE FARIA JR. BRAZIL 01:19.0
15 Tom DILLMAN SWITZERLAND 01:19.1
16 Aaron LIM MALAYSIA 01:19.7
17 Federico DUARTE PORTUGAL 01:21.3
18 Parthiva SURESHWAREN INDIA 01:23.9
19 Jarek JANIS CZECH REPUBLIC 01:31.8
Official Practice session 2 (14.00 - 15.00)
POS DRIVER A1 TEAM TIME1 Loic DUVAL FRANCE 01:15.5
2 Adam CARROLL IRELAND 01:15.8
3 Neel JANI SWITZERLAND 01:15.9
4 Christian VIETORIS GERMANY 01:16.0
5 Jonathan SUMMERTON USA 01:16.0
6 Robbie KERR GREAT BRITAIN 01:16.0
7 Robert WICKENS CANADA 01:16.1
8 Jonny REID NEW ZEALAND 01:16.1
9 Jeroen BLEEKEMOLEN NETHERLANDS 01:16.2
10 Adrian ZAUGG SOUTH AFRICA 01:16.3
11 Edoardo PISCOPO ITALY 01:16.4
12 John MARTIN AUSTRALIA 01:16.5
13 Sergio JIMENEZ BRAZIL 01:16.6
14 Alex YOONG MALAYSIA 01:16.6
15 Narain KARTHIKEYAN INDIA 01:16.6
16 Chris ALAJAJIAN LEBANON 01:16.8
17 David GARZA MEXICO 01:16.8
18 Tomas ENGE CZECH REPUBLIC 01:17.0
19 Joao URBANO PORTUGAL 01:17.1
20 Congfu CHENG CHINA 01:17.3
21 Adam KHAN PAKISTAN 01:17.7
22 Satrio HERMANTO INDONESIA 01:18.3
Reporting by A1GP.com
All pictures A1GP.com.
Loic Duval leads the way in the Team France car at the end of day one.
Adam Carroll was an excellent second fastest for Team Ireland.
Third fastest for Team Switzerland and Neel Jani.
Christian Vietoris (Team Germany) were a very close fourth.
Jonathan Summerton and Team USA were right on the pace in fifth.
Sixth for Team Great Britain and Robbie Kerr.
Indy 500 winner Arie Luyendyk drove the Team Netherlands car in the Rookie session.
John Martin went very quickly in the Rookie session for Team Australia.
There were several new faces in the first session, James Winslow (Team Great Britain)...
...Aaron Lim (Team Malaysia) having an off-track moment...
...Tom Dillman (Team Switzerland)...
...Parthiva Sureshwaren (Team India)...
...and finally Federico Duarte (Team Portugal).