01/02/08

A1GP - EASTERN CREEK, AUSTRALIA: QUALIFYING DAY 1

A1 Team France was on incredible form today, topping the time sheets in the second of today's two free practice sessions at Sydney's Eastern Creek Raceway as round six of the 2007/08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport season got underway in wet and overcast conditions. The 25-year-old French driver Loic Duval, who landed in Sydney on Friday morning and arrived at the track just one hour before the afternoon session began, managed to sign-on and complete all the necessary technical briefings required to take part in this weekend's A1GP event. Duval recorded the best lap of the day on his first flying lap around the 3.93 km circuit, a blisteringly quick 1m18.675s, slashing A1 Team Germany's lap record by half a second.

Canadian rookie Robert Wickens clocked the second fastest time of the day, closely followed by Great Britain's Robbie Kerr in third and current championship leader New Zealand's Jonny Reid in fourth.

Lebanon's Chris Alajajian was on superb form today, setting the fifth quickest lap overall and the second fastest time of the hour this morning, recording the nation's best ever time during a rookie and developing nations session.

Home nation A1 Team Australia's John Martin set the pace in this morning's rookie session on a drying track, putting in a series of competitive lap times and taking the top spot. The 23-year-old, who finished the day seventh overall behind the Netherlands' Jeroen Bleekemolen, is aiming high for qualifying tomorrow in front of his home crowd:

'Obviously we won't be happy unless we're on pole tomorrow, but I think that top five would be a reasonably good result for my second meeting. The car was ok today but we made a few changes between the sessions. We had to wait for the track to clear up a bit and then the China car spun so I didn't really get the best lap on lap one, so I came straight back to the pits. Then when I went back out after that the grip was never the same so I guess seventh isn't too bad, but I would've loved to have been a bit higher up.'

France's Loic Duval, who set the fastest time of the day despite arriving at the circuit just one hour before the session started, thinks there is still room for improvement:

'It was a bit tight for me because I arrived here at 1pm on the track, 11am at the airport, but I am quite happy. My lap was not perfect but still it was enough to get the best lap time. This afternoon the car was not too bad. We still have to improve a bit though, especially on my driving we have a bit to do.' A1 Team Australia seat holder Alan Jones was pleased with John Martin's performance today:

'We are very pleased. When we tested John at Silverstone he showed promise. Then he backed that up consistently when he did the rookie drives. Because of that he has been rewarded with the lead drive and he hasn't disappointed. At New Zealand he really didn't get a chance to get into his stride for one reason or another, but we knew that there was an underlying thing there. New Zealand was the first time John had experienced push to pass and the first time he'd done a one lap dash on new tyres, so a lot of firsts for him. We knew that with that under his belt he'd be good here and I think he proved that in the rookies this morning.'

A1 Team Switzerland, title leader when the series arrived for round five in New Zealand last month and defending champion Germany, struggled at Eastern Creek today, finishing the day 12th and 14th respectively.

Official Practice Session 1 - Rookie drivers and developing nations only.
POS DRIVER A1 TEAM TIME
1 John MARTIN AUSTRALIA 01:20.530
2 Chris ALAJAJIAN LEBANON 01:21.340
3 James WINSLOW GREAT BRITAIN 01:21.521
4 Fairuz FAUZY MALAYSIA 01:21.781
5 Jonathan COCHET FRANCE 01:21.807
6 Earl BAMBER NEW ZEALAND 01:21.833
7 David GARZA MEXICO 01:21.872
8 Robert WICKENS CANADA 01:21.955
9 Michael KLEIN GERMANY 01:22.252
10 Wesleigh ORR SOUTH AFRICA 01:22.579
11 Edoardo PISCOPO ITALY 01:22.608
12 Satrio HERMANTO INDONESIA 01:22.789
13 Tom DILLMAN SWITZERLAND 01:22.816
14 Clemente DE FARIA JR. BRAZIL 01:22.972
15 Arie LUYENDYK NETHERLANDS 01:23.028
16 Niall QUINN IRELAND 01:24.435
17 Federico DUARTE PORTUGAL 01:25.359
18 Jarek JANIS CZECH REPUBLIC 01:56.044

Official Practice session 2 (14.00 - 15.00)
POS DRIVER A1 TEAM TIME
1 Loic DUVAL FRANCE 01:18.675
2 Robert WICKENS CANADA 01:18.941
3 Robbie KERR GREAT BRITAIN 01:18.996
4 Jonny REID NEW ZEALAND 01:19.102
5 Chris ALAJAJIAN LEBANON 01:19.337
6 Jeroen BLEEKEMOLEN NETHERLANDS 01:19.669
7 John MARTIN AUSTRALIA 01:19.710
8 David GARZA MEXICO 01:19.854
9 Jonathan SUMMERTON USA 01:19.914
10 Congfu CHENG CHINA 01:19.990
11 Sergio JIMENEZ BRAZIL 01:20.062
12 Neel JANI SWITZERLAND 01:20.167
13 Satrio HERMANTO INDONESIA 01:20.535
14 Michael AMMERM√úLLER GERMANY 01:20.562
15 Tomas ENGE CZECH REPUBLIC 01:20.621
16 Edoardo PISCOPO ITALY 01:20.840
17 Adrian ZAUGG SOUTH AFRICA 01:20.891
18 Narain KARTHIKEYAN INDIA 01:20.936
19 Fairuz FAUZY MALAYSIA 01:21.028
20 Joao URBANO PORTUGAL 01:21.484
21 Adam KHAN PAKISTAN 01:21.633
22 Adam CARROLL IRELAND 01:21.797

Reporting by A1GP.com

All pictures A1GP.com.



Once again Loic Duval leads the way for Team France at the end of day one.



Another excellent performance with the second fastest time for Rob Wickens (Team Canada).



Third fastest for Robbie Kerr and Team Great Britain.



Jonny Reid and Team New Zealand are on the pace with fourth quickest time.



A surprising but excellent fifth for Chris Alajajian (Team Lebanon).



Sixth for Team Netherlands and Jeroen Bleekemolen.



A good session ending with sixth fastest time for home favourite John Martin (Team Australia).



Eighth for David Garza (Team Mexico).



Team Germany's second session finished on the back of a truck.



Adam Carroll (Team Ireland) will be very unhappy after finishing slowest of all the teams.



Fairuz Fauzy was quick for Team Malaysia in the first session.



Jonathan Cochet drove for Team France in the Rookie session...



...as did Clemente de Faria for Team Brazil...



..and Niall Quinn for Team Ireland.