A1GP - TAUPO, NEW ZEALAND: QUALIFYING DAY 2
Home nation A1 Team New Zealand qualified in pole position for tomorrow morning's Sprint race at Taupo while France took the Feature race pole. It was an unusual qualifying hour as the majority of teams waited as late as possible to take to the windy, dusty track during each of the four 15-minute qualifying segments.
A1 Team France continued to dominate the on-track action at Taupo, setting the pace in the third and final practice session this morning in sunny but blustery weather conditions, ahead of qualifying in New Zealand this afternoon.
Loic Duval stormed to the top of the time sheets early on, improving throughout the hour to finish the session with a best lap of 1m15.292s around the picturesque 3.5km circuit. Duval was closely followed by Great Britain's Robbie Kerr in second and Germany's Christian Vietoris in third.
Despite spending the first half of the session confined to the garage with a technical problem, championship leader Switzerland's Neel Jani set the fourth quickest time of the hour, just ahead of home nation New Zealand's Jonny Reid in fifth. China's Congfu Cheng was on fine form this morning, ending the session in a strong sixth position.
Canada's Robert Wickens finished the session seventh with exactly the same lap time as China while Sergio Jimenez clocked the eighth fastest lap in the Brazilian car. Australia's John Martin and the Netherland's Jeroen Bleekemolen ended the morning ninth and 10th quickest respectively in what was an incredibly close session, with just over a second separating the top 14 teams.
The 22 nations now have to decide on their set ups before qualifying for the Sprint and Feature races starts at 14.15 this afternoon. Qualifying consists of four 15 minute sessions with a five minute break between each one. The fastest lap time set by each team's nominated driver in the first two qualifying segments will determine the grid for the rolling start Sprint race, while the fastest times set in the final two segments will determine how the 22 cars will line up on the grid for the standing start Feature race. Each driver is limited to one 'flying lap' per 15 minute session.
Official Practice Session 3
POS DRIVER A1 TEAM TIME1 Loic DUVAL FRANCE 01:15.292
2 Robbie KERR GREAT BRITAIN 01:15.410
3 Christian VIETORIS GERMANY 01:15.515
4 Neel JANI SWITZERLAND 01:15.590
5 Jonny REID NEW ZEALAND 01:15.601
6 Congfu CHENG CHINA 01:15.752
7 Robert WICKENS CANADA 01:15.752
8 Sergio JIMENEZ BRAZIL 01:15.778
9 John MARTIN AUSTRALIA 01:15.800
10 Jeroen BLEEKEMOLEN NETHERLANDS 01:15.982
11 Jonathan SUMMERTON USA 01:15.999
12 David GARZA MEXICO 01:16.125
13 Adam CARROLL IRELAND 01:16.187
14 Narain KARTHIKEYAN INDIA 01:16.324
15 Edoardo PISCOPO ITALY 01:16.594
16 Alex YOONG MALAYSIA 01:16.633
17 Joao URBANO PORTUGAL 01:16.755
18 Adrian ZAUGG SOUTH AFRICA 01:16.834
19 Satrio HERMANTO INDONESIA 01:16.977
20 Chris ALAJAJIAN LEBANON 01:17.034
21 Tomas ENGE CZECH REPUBLIC 01:17.089
22 Adam KHAN PAKISTAN 01:17.319
Sprint race qualifyingThe crowds roared as New Zealand's Jonny Reid set the fastest lap in the closing minutes of the second 15-minute qualifying segment to snatch pole position for tomorrow morning's Sprint race.
South Africa's Adrian Zaugg will line up alongside the home nation hero on the front row, after an incredible last lap charge during Q2 moved him up to second place. France's Loic Duval, who has been the man to beat all weekend, will start the race from third position on the second row while Germany's Christian Vietoris qualified fourth.
The Netherlands' Jeroen Bleekemolen and USA's Jonathan Summerton will line up on the third row of the grid in fifth and sixth place respectively.
Feature race qualifyingThe teams continued to play a waiting game due to the dusty conditions, finally taking to the track with just over two minutes of the final qualifying segment remaining. France's Loic Duval put in a sensational performance to secure pole for the Feature race ahead of Germany's Christian Vietoris who will line up alongside him on the front row.
Current championship leader Switzerland's Neel Jani qualified in third position, closely followed by Canada's Robert Wickens who will start from fourth on the grid. Home nation New Zealand's Jonny Reid took the fifth spot while Portugal's Joao Urbano recorded an incredible lap around the 3.5km circuit to secure sixth position ahead of South Africa.
New Zealand's Jonny Reid is delighted to be starting tomorrow's Sprint race from pole position and is aiming for a win in front of his home crowd:
'It was a fantastic feeling to see everyone on their feet in the grandstands as I came across the line. I had no radio communication during the session but I could see the crowd were pretty excited and I was hoping it was at least the front row. It was a very clean lap in Q2 and not many mistakes which is pleasing. We slipped up a bit for the Feature race qualifying but we'll be there when it comes to the racing tomorrow. I have the home support and I really want this one.'
Season one champion France's Loic Duval has been on superb form all weekend and has high hopes for tomorrow's Feature race, which he is starting from pole:
'The first part of qualifying was ok because I was first in the first segment, but the set up of the car wasn't really as good as this morning. It was quite difficult to find a good set up which is why I just took pole for the Feature race. The average of today is not too bad though - first and third - and at the end of the weekend the most important thing is the number of points we can score.'
Germany's Christian Vietoris, who will start the Sprint race from fourth and the Feature race from second on the grid, commented on the dirty, dusty track conditions:
'It is a big problem because you don't know what to expect at the next corner. Today it was ok but yesterday it was a lot worse and nearly everybody went off the track at some point.'
Tomorrow's Sprint race at Taupo, New Zealand will start at 11.00 local time and the 70-minute Feature race will start at 15.00.
Sprint race qualifying results - A1GP Taupo, New Zealand (round 5 of 10)
POS A1 TEAM DRIVER BEST TIME1 NEW ZEALAND Jonny REID 01:15.241
2 SOUTH AFRICA Adrian ZAUGG 01:15.522
3 FRANCE Loic DUVAL 01:15.628
4 GERMANY Christian VIETORIS 01:15.724
5 NETHERLANDS Jeroen BLEEKEMOLEN 01:16.036
6 USA Jonathan SUMMERTON 01:16.101
7 IRELAND Adam CARROLL 01:16.182
8 CANADA Robert WICKENS 01:16.201
9 MALAYSIA Alex YOONG 01:16.386
10 BRAZIL Sergio JIMENEZ 01:16.408
11 SWITZERLAND Neel JANI 01:16.423
12 ITALY Edoardo PISCOPO 01:16.472
13 GREAT BRITAIN Robbie KERR 01:16.731
14 PORTUGAL Joao URBANO 01:17.147
15 AUSTRALIA John MARTIN 01:17.309
16 CHINA Congfu CHENG 01:17.340
17 LEBANON Chris ALAJAJIAN 01:17.682
18 MEXICO David GARZA 01:17.809
19 CZECH REPUBLIC Tomas ENGE 01:17.811
20 INDIA Narain KARTHIKEYAN 01:17.961
21 INDONESIA Satrio HERMANTO 01:18.421
22 PAKISTAN Adam KHAN 01:18.635
Feature race qualifying results - A1GP Taupo, New Zealand (round 5 of 10)
POS A1 TEAM DRIVER BEST TIME1 FRANCE Loic DUVAL 01:15.296
2 GERMANY Christian VIETORIS 01:15.331
3 SWITZERLAND Neel JANI 01:15.476
4 CANADA Robert WICKENS 01:15.588
5 NEW ZEALAND Jonny REID 01:15.618
6 PORTUGAL Joao URBANO 01:15.620
7 SOUTH AFRICA Adrian ZAUGG 01:15.651
8 NETHERLANDS Jeroen BLEEKEMOLEN 01:15.795
9 GREAT BRITAIN Robbie KERR 01:15.895
10 USA Jonathan SUMMERTON 01:15.898
11 BRAZIL Sergio JIMENEZ 01:16.024
12 AUSTRALIA John MARTIN 01:16.106
13 IRELAND Adam CARROLL 01:16.115
14 MALAYSIA Alex YOONG 01:16.198
15 MEXICO David GARZA 01:16.313
16 ITALY Edoardo PISCOPO 01:16.524
17 LEBANON Chris ALAJAJIAN 01:16.556
18 CHINA Congfu CHENG 01:16.761
19 INDIA Narain KARTHIKEYAN 01:16.791
20 CZECH REPUBLIC Tomas ENGE 01:17.526
21 PAKISTAN Adam KHAN 01:17.556
22 INDONESIA Satrio HERMANTO 01:18.106
Reporting by A1GP.com.
All pictures A1GP.com.
Jonny Reid (Team New Zealand) took pole position for the Sprint Race...
...whilst it will be Loric Duval (Team France) at the front in the Feature Race.
Christian Vietoris was quick in both sessions in the Team Germany car.
Adrian Zaugg and Team South Africa showed a welcome return to form.
Team Netherlands and Jeroen Bleekemolen were towards the front as always.
Rob Wickens continues to impress in the Team Canada car.
Despite this off-track moment Team USA will start both races in the top ten.
Joao Urbano (Team Portugal) had a good run in the Feature Race Qualifying to finish sixth.
A very disappointing qualifying for Team Great Britain and driver Robbie Kerr.
A pair of midfield starts for Sergio Jimenez and Team Brazil...
...and for John Martin (Team Australia).
Adam Carroll and Team Ireland didn't keep up their recent good form.
Edoardo Piscopo in the Team Italy car.
David Garza (Team Mexico).
Alex Yoong is struggling for pace again in the Team Malaysia car.
Despite his smile Narain Karthikeyan (Team India) will be very disaointed with his qualifying results...
...as will Congfu Cheng (Team China)...
...and Thomas Enge for Team Czech Republic.