A1GP - EASTERN CREEK, AUSTRALIA: QUALIFYING DAY 2
A1 Team France continued to dominate the action at Sydney's Eastern Creek Raceway, setting the pace in the third and final practice session this morning in overcast and humid weather conditions, ahead of qualifying for the A1GP Sydney, Australia this afternoon.
Loic Duval, who topped the time sheets during Friday practice having only arrived at the circuit one hour before the session began, clocked the fastest lap at the start of the hour long session this morning and France remained the team to beat. Duval was closely followed by Great Britain's Robbie Kerr in second, who is back at the sharp end of the time sheets after a difficult weekend in Taupo, and India's Narain Karthikeyan in third, who put in a late charge on fresh tyres.
Current championship leader New Zealand's Jonny Reid set the fourth quickest time of the session, just ahead of Germany's Michael Ammermüller in fifth. China's Congfu Cheng was on strong form this morning, ending the session in sixth position.
Italy's Edoardo Piscopo finished the session seventh ahead of home nation Australia's John Martin, who was the fastest man around the Eastern Creek circuit during yesterday's rookie session. Brazil's Sergio Jimenez ended the morning ninth fastest followed by Pakistan's Adam Khan in tenth.
Several teams struggled to find grip around the 'slippery' 3.93 km circuit which is particularly hard on tyres, the Czech Republic, Netherlands and Portugal all spinning off during the session.
All 22 nations competing in the World Cup of Motorsport now have to decide on their set ups before qualifying for the Sprint and Feature races begins 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 01:20.060
2 Robbie KERR GREAT BRITAIN 01:20.233
3 Narain KARTHIKEYAN INDIA 01:20.333
4 Jonny REID NEW ZEALAND 01:20.475
5 Michael AMMERMÜLLER GERMANY 01:20.649
6 Congfu CHENG CHINA 01:20.706
7 Edoardo PISCOPO ITALY 01:20.746
8 John MARTIN AUSTRALIA 01:20.818
9 Sergio JIMENEZ BRAZIL 01:21.085
10 Adam KHAN PAKISTAN 01:21.161
11 Adrian ZAUGG SOUTH AFRICA 01:21.215
12 Joao URBANO PORTUGAL 01:21.502
13 Robert WICKENS CANADA 01:21.531
14 Neel JANI SWITZERLAND 01:21.583
15 Jeroen BLEEKEMOLEN NETHERLANDS 01:21.628
16 Tomas ENGE CZECH REPUBLIC 01:21.733
17 Adam CARROLL IRELAND 01:21.801
18 David GARZA MEXICO 01:21.857
19 Satrio HERMANTO INDONESIA 01:22.032
20 Fairuz FAUZY MALAYSIA 01:22.129 21
Jonathan SUMMERTON USA 01:22.134
22 Chris ALAJAJIAN LEBANON 01:36.349
Sprint race qualifying Loic Duval continued to impress the packed grandstands at Eastern Creek, clocking the fastest lap during the first 15-minute qualifying segment to take pole position for A1 Team France for tomorrow morning's Sprint race.
Switzerland's Neel Jani, who has been struggling with grip levels and tyre wear this weekend, returned to his usual fine form to set the second quickest time during Q2 and line the Swiss car up alongside Duval on the front row.
South Africa's Adrian Zaugg qualified in third position while current championship leader New Zealand's Jonny Reid will start the race from fourth place on row two. China's Congfu Cheng and USA's Jonathan Summerton will line up on the third row of the grid in fifth and sixth place respectively.
Feature race qualifyingHaving completed qualifying for the Sprint race in cloudy and humid conditions, the drivers were greeted by sunshine and blue skies when they took to the track for Feature race qualifying five minutes later.
New Zealand's Jonny Reid put in a sensational performance to snatch pole position for the Feature race from title rival Switzerland's Neel Jani by 12 thousandths of a second. Reid was one of the first drivers on track in Q4 and set a time that claimed the first Feature Race pole of his A1GP career and his fourth pole position overall.
After failing to set a time in the first qualifying segment due to being held up by the Lebanese car spinning off at turn four, Great Britain's Robbie Kerr, who is without his race engineer this weekend, made a good recovery to qualify in third position for the Feature race. GBR race engineer James Goodfield suffered a broken leg on Friday night when he was hit by a tyre gun hose that became disconnected when the Portuguese crew in the next door garage were practicing their pit stops.
A1 Team China's Congfu Cheng, who is having a great weekend, will line up in fourth place on the second row. A year on from the team's first podium finish at Eastern Creek, China enjoyed one of its most competitive qualifying sessions to date, topping the time sheets in the third qualifying segment.
Sprint race pole-sitter France's Loic Duval took the fifth spot ahead of South Africa's Adrian Zaugg who will start from sixth.
After the end of the qualifying session, Canada's Robert Wickens had his best overall time removed as a penalty for failing to comply with blue flags. His actions resulted in him holding up Brazil's Sergio Jimenez who was on his Q3 flying lap. Canada will start the Feature race from the last row in 21st position.
Home nation A1 Team Australia's John Martin will start the Sprint race from ninth, the nation's best qualifying performance so far this season and first top ten start on home soil. Martin will start the Feature race from 14th.
After an encouraging start to the weekend, Lebanon will start both races from the back of the grid. Chris Alajajian ran wide and spun into the tyre wall on his out lap during the first qualifying segment and there was no time to repair the extensive damage sustained before the end of the session.
Season one champion France's Loic Duval, who has been on sensational form all weekend in what might be his last A1GP event this season, will start tomorrow's Sprint race from pole and the Feature race from fifth:
'The top step of the podium is our target. This is maybe my last weekend in A1GP so I would like to leave the series with a win. We are in the best position for the Sprint race which makes it easier for the start. I think we are quite competitive and we are always fighting from the front. If we can get a good start tomorrow morning it's going to be difficult for the other drivers to attack us.'
New Zealand's Jonny Reid, who is starting tomorrow's Feature race from pole position for the first time, said:
'We struggled to get a gap in qualifying one for the Sprint race and after that we changed our game plan and made sure we got clean, clear runs. The car's great and I'm extremely satisfied we've taken pole position. I was only able to qualify second here last year but this year we're on pole and I'm really pleased. Qualifying is one thing and racing is another but the car feels good and I'm confident with the team and I'm sure we can put in a strong performance tomorrow.'
Switzerland's Neel Jani, who will start the Sprint and Feature races from second on the grid, commented on his incredible return to form after a tough start to the weekend:
'Basically I was on average one and a half seconds slower than the guys next to me on every lap. We tried everything, we changed everything on the car and the mechanics had a long night session to see what the problem could be. The last thing we changed for qualifying was the tyres and my first lap on new tyres was two and a half seconds quicker than I ever was on the circuit so far. It was a shock to me in those first laps to feel that grip and how different the car was. In the end we still missed pole but we were close so it was a big change for me.'
Tomorrow's Sprint race at Eastern Creek Raceway in Sydney, Australia will start at 11.00 local time and the 70-minute Feature race will start at 15.00.
Sprint race qualifying results - A1GP Sydney, Australia (round 6 of 10)
POS - A1 TEAM - DRIVER - TIME1 FRANCE Loic DUVAL 01:18.149
2 SWITZERLAND Neel JANI 01:18.218
3 SOUTH AFRICA Adrian ZAUGG 01:18.243
4 NEW ZEALAND Jonny REID 01:18.368
5 CHINA Congfu CHENG 01:18.370
6 USA Jonathan SUMMERTON 01:18.464
7 GERMANY Michael AMMERMÜLLER 01:18.632
8 GREAT BRITAIN Robbie KERR 01:18.649
9 AUSTRALIA John MARTIN 01:18.690
10 NETHERLANDS Jeroen BLEEKEMOLEN 01:18.804
11 BRAZIL Sergio JIMENEZ 01:18.811
12 IRELAND Adam CARROLL 01:18.929
13 INDIA Narain KARTHIKEYAN 01:19.004
14 CZECH REPUBLIC Tomas ENGE 01:19.099
15 CANADA Robert WICKENS 01:19.197
16 MALAYSIA Fairuz FAUZY 01:19.384
17 PORTUGAL Joao URBANO 01:19.492
18 PAKISTAN Adam KHAN 01:19.623
19 MEXICO David GARZA 01:19.785
20 ITALY Edoardo PISCOPO 01:19.975
21 INDONESIA Satrio HERMANTO 01:20.154
22 LEBANON Chris ALAJAJIAN -
Feature race qualifying results - A1GP Sydney, Australia (round 6 of 10)
POS - A1 TEAM - DRIVER - BEST TIME1 NEW ZEALAND Jonny REID 01:18.578
2 SWITZERLAND Neel JANI 01:18.590
3 GREAT BRITAIN Robbie KERR 01:18.720
4 CHINA Congfu CHENG 01:18.825
5 FRANCE Loic DUVAL 01:18.829
6 SOUTH AFRICA Adrian ZAUGG 01:18.922
7 USA Jonathan SUMMERTON 01:18.976
8 CZECH REPUBLIC Tomas ENGE 01:19.232
9 BRAZIL Sergio JIMENEZ 01:19.235
10 MALAYSIA Fairuz FAUZY 01:19.252
11 NETHERLANDS Jeroen BLEEKEMOLEN 01:19.487
12 GERMANY Michael AMMERMÜLLER 01:19.516
13 MEXICO David GARZA 01:19.529
14 AUSTRALIA John MARTIN 01:19.611
15 IRELAND Adam CARROLL 01:19.706
16 PORTUGAL Joao URBANO 01:19.733
17 PAKISTAN Adam KHAN 01:19.852
18 INDIA Narain KARTHIKEYAN 01:19.878
19 ITALY Edoardo PISCOPO 01:20.051
20 INDONESIA Satrio HERMANTO 01:20.133
21 CANADA Robert WICKENS -
22 LEBANON Chris ALAJAJIAN -
Reporting by A1GP.com.
All pictures A1GP.com.
Loic Duval (Team France) took pole position for the Sprint Race...
...whilst for the Feature Race it will be Jonny Reid (Team New Zealand).
Neel Jani (Team Switzerland) will start second in both races.
Adrian Zaugg (Team South Africa) qualified third for the Sprint Race...
...the same spot taken by Robbie Kerr (Team Great Britain) in the Feature Race.
Congfu Cheng (Team China) will start well in both races...
...as will Jonathan Summerton (Team USA)
Tomas Enge (Team Czech Republic qualifed eighth in the Feature Race.
A disappointing qualifying for Team Germany and Michael Ammermüller.
A pair of midfield starts for John Martin and Team Australia...
...and, showing evidence of an off, for Jeroen Bleekemolen (Team Netherlands).
Fairuz Fauzy (Team Malaysia) starts the Feature Race from tenth.
Sergio Jimenez (Team Brazil).
Team Lebanon's qualifying was ruined by this accident damage.
Adam Carroll (Team Ireland) starts well back in both races...
...as does Narain Karthikeyan (Team India)...
...Joao Urbano (Team Portugal)...
...and Rob Wickens (Team Canada).
Edoardo Piscopo (Team Italy).
Adam Kahn (Team Pakistan).
Pit crews are getting better looking.