A1GP - DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA: QUALIFYING DAY 2
A1 Team Switzerland's Neel Jani set the pace in this morning's third and final practice session for the A1GP Durban, South Africa, held in hot, humid and breezy conditions, ahead of what promises to be a thrilling qualifying session this afternoon.
Swiss racer Neel Jani clocked the fastest lap time halfway through the incident-packed final practice this morning and held the top spot for the remainder of the session, which was extended due to four red-flag periods involving India, Australia, Italy and Ireland. Jani was closely followed by Germany's Michael Ammermüller in second, who has been on impressive form all weekend in Durban.
Loic Duval, the third driver to get behind the wheel of the French car this weekend, finished a superb third fastest, having only arrived at the track just over an hour before the session started. The 25-year-old flew to South Africa overnight from Japan where he was fulfilling a motorsport commitment he had agreed to before the A1GP season began. The French team, currently level on points with New Zealand at the top of the championship table, has employed such an ambitious strategy in an attempt to keep its title challenge going.
Great Britain's Oliver Jarvis leapt up the order to second behind Switzerland with 25 minutes remaining and finally finished the session fourth fastest overall, just ahead of the Netherlands' Jeroen Bleekemolen in fifth. China's Congfu Cheng was on good form this morning, ending the session in sixth position.
Canada's Robert Wickens, who was flying at the start of the session due to running on relatively fresh tyres because he only completed four laps on Friday, finished the session seventh ahead of home nation South Africa's Adrian Zaugg in eighth. Current title leader New Zealand's Jonny Reid ended the morning ninth fastest followed by Portuguese newcomer Filipe Albuquerque in 10th.
All 22 nations competing in the World Cup of Motorsport are now preparing their cars for Sprint and Feature race qualifying, which 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 Neel JANI SWITZERLAND 01:18.292
2 Michael AMMERMÜLLER GERMANY 01:18.430
3 Loic DUVAL FRANCE 01:18.495
4 Oliver JARVIS GREAT BRITAIN 01:18.539
5 Jeroen BLEEKEMOLEN NETHERLANDS 01:18.679
6 Congfu CHENG CHINA 01:18.763
7 Robert WICKENS CANADA 01:18.909
8 Adrian ZAUGG SOUTH AFRICA 01:18.979
9 Jonny REID NEW ZEALAND 01:19.002
10 Filipe ALBUQUERQUE PORTUGAL 01:19.021
11 Jonathan SUMMERTON USA 01:19.136
12 Bruno JUNQUEIRA BRAZIL 01:19.189
13 Adam CARROLL IRELAND 01:19.286
14 Fairuz FAUZY MALAYSIA 01:19.390
15 Adam KHAN PAKISTAN 01:19.783
16 John MARTIN AUSTRALIA 01:19.996
17 David GARZA MEXICO 01:20.246
18 Josef KRAL CZECH REPUBLIC 01:20.720
19 Narain KARTHIKEYAN INDIA 01:20.791
20 Satrio HERMANTO INDONESIA 01:20.861
21 Khalil BESCHIR LEBANON 01:20.953
22 Edoardo PISCOPO ITALY 01:21.022
Sprint Race qualifying
Eighteen-year-old rookie Robert Wickens set the fastest lap during the second 15-minute qualifying segment to take pole position for A1 Team Canada for tomorrow morning's Sprint race, claiming the team's first ever pole position and the first of his A1GP career.
Brazil's Bruno Junqueira, who was 12th quickest in practice this morning, leapt up the time sheets to qualify in second position alongside Canada while New Zealand's Jonny Reid and GBR's Oliver Jarvis will start the race from third and fourth place on row two. Switzerland's Neel Jani and Germany's Michael Ammermüller will line up on the third row of the grid in fifth and sixth place respectively.
Ireland's Adam Carroll cruised to a halt early on in the first qualifying segment with a fuel pump problem and only six nations managed to set a time as the session was red-flagged with three minutes remaining, when the New Zealand car spun off the track. The start of the second qualifying segment was delayed slightly while the track was cleared.
South Africa's Adrian Zaugg will start the Sprint race from the back of the grid in 22nd place as he pushed hard and spun out at turn three, failing to set a flying lap time.
Feature Race qualifying
Switzerland's Neel Jani, who just pipped GBR to take provisional pole in the third qualifying segment, bettered his time in the final qualifying segment to secure pole position for tomorrow's Feature race. Sprint race pole-sitter Canada's Robert Wickens, who is having a superb weekend, will start the race from second place alongside the Swiss car on the front row.
New Zealand's Jonny Reid, who has never raced on a street circuit before, qualified in third position while Great Britain's Oliver Jarvis, the first driver to break the lap record around the streets of Durban this weekend, will line up in fourth place on the second row.
Brazil's Bruno Junqueira took the fifth spot ahead of the Netherlands' Jeroen Bleekemolen who will start from sixth place. Germany's Michael Ammermüller and France's Loic Duval qualified seventh and eighth while Portugal's Filipe Albuquerque and Australia's John Martin will line up on the fifth row in ninth and 10th position respectively.
Home nation A1 Team South Africa's Adrian Zaugg will start the Feature race from a disappointing 15th position, after taking to the track early on in the session and getting stuck in traffic. Canada's Robert Wickens is having a great weekend in Durban and was pleased to achieve his nation's first pole position and the team's best combined qualifying performance to date:
'We had a really good run in qualifying, the car was really solid underneath me and I was able to put in a pretty good lap. It's Canada's best qualifying ever so I'm excited to get them their first pole and their second front row start.'
Feature race pole-sitter Neel Jani, who has now notched up four pole positions for the Swiss team this season, said: 'It was a tough qualifying session, especially missing the first segment because of the red flags so I really had to push in the second one for the Sprint grid. Adrian spun in front of me and I didn't know where to so I had to break to avoid him which cost me a lot of time but I'm still fifth so I'm happy with that. Then in segments three and fourth I was quickest and we improved the car a little bit but I had to really push a lot and it was still very close at the end.'
Adrian Zaugg endured a difficult qualifying session in the South African car this afternoon and will start the Sprint race from 22nd and the Feature race from 15th:
'We were one of the teams to get caught out at the third turn in the second segment - I don't know what changed but for sure it was more slippery out there than it was in free practice - and then in the third segment I got held up by New Zealand I think. I wanted to push for it in the last segment but we had a problem with the pick up of the engine so we didn't even go for a lap. I think it will be difficult to improve or even get points in the Sprint race but definitely in the Feature I think we should be able to get some points.'
Tomorrow's Sprint race in Durban, South Africa will start at 11.00 local time and the 70-minute Feature race will start at 15.00.
Sprint race qualifying results - A1GP Durban, South Africa (round 7 of 10)
POS A1 TEAM DRIVER BEST TIME1 CANADA Robert WICKENS 01:18.150
2 BRAZIL Bruno JUNQUEIRA 01:18.168
3 NEW ZEALAND Jonny REID 01:18.229
4 GREAT BRITAIN Oliver JARVIS 01:18.410
5 SWITZERLAND Neel JANI 01:18.470
6 GERMANY Michael AMMERMÜLLER 01:18.650
7 NETHERLANDS Jeroen BLEEKEMOLEN 01:18.717
8 MALAYSIA Fairuz FAUZY 01:19.091
9 INDIA Narain KARTHIKEYAN 01:19.213
10 PORTUGAL Filipe ALBUQUERQUE 01:19.224
11 CHINA Congfu CHENG 01:19.261
12 AUSTRALIA John MARTIN 01:19.423
13 MEXICO David GARZA 01:19.812
14 USA Jonathan SUMMERTON 01:19.815
15 PAKISTAN Adam KHAN 01:20.204
16 ITALY Edoardo PISCOPO 01:20.294
17 FRANCE Loic DUVAL 01:21.310
18 CZECH REPUBLIC Josef KRAL 01:21.919
19 LEBANON Khalil BESCHIR 01:22.050
20 INDONESIA Satrio HERMANTO 01:23.808
21 IRELAND Adam CARROLL 0
22 SOUTH AFRICA Adrian ZAUGG 0
Feature race qualifying results - A1GP Durban, South Africa (round 7 of 10)
POS A1 TEAM DRIVER BEST TIME1 SWITZERLAND Neel JANI 01:17.7
2 CANADA Robert WICKENS 01:17.8
3 NEW ZEALAND Jonny REID 01:17.9
4 GREAT BRITAIN Oliver JARVIS 01:17.9
5 BRAZIL Bruno JUNQUEIRA 01:18.0
6 NETHERLANDS Jeroen BLEEKEMOLEN 01:18.0
7 GERMANY Michael AMMERMÜLLER 01:18.0
8 FRANCE Loic DUVAL 01:18.1
9 PORTUGAL Filipe ALBUQUERQUE 01:18.3
10 AUSTRALIA John MARTIN 01:18.7
11 CHINA Congfu CHENG 01:18.8
12 MALAYSIA Fairuz FAUZY 01:18.8
13 IRELAND Adam CARROLL 01:18.8
14 PAKISTAN Adam KHAN 01:18.9
15 SOUTH AFRICA Adrian ZAUGG 01:18.9
16 USA Jonathan SUMMERTON 01:18.9
17 INDIA Narain KARTHIKEYAN 01:18.9
18 ITALY Edoardo PISCOPO 01:19.9
19 MEXICO David GARZA 01:20.2
20 CZECH REPUBLIC Josef KRAL 01:20.4
21 LEBANON Khalil BESCHIR 01:21.1
22 INDONESIA Satrio HERMANTO 01:21.4
Reporting by A1GP.com
All pictures A1GP.com.
Rob Wickens (Team Canada) took pole position for the Sprint Race...
...whilst for the Feature Race it will be Neel Jani (Team Switzerland).
Bruno Junqueira (Team Brazil) was flying in both sessions.
Jonny Reid (Team New Zealand) qualified third for both races...
...whilst Oliver Jarvis (Team Great Britain) starts fourth in both.
Seventh and sixth for Jeroen Bleekemolen (Team Netherlands)...
... whilst it's sixth and seventh for Michael Ammermüller (Team Germany).
Loic Duval (Team France) had a disappointing time in both sessions.
Filipe Albuquerque (Team Portugal) starts both races in the top ten on his A1GP debut.
Fairuz Fauzy (Team Malaysia) did well in both qualifying sessions.
Congfu Cheng (Team China) starts both races in the middle of the grid.
John Martin and Team Australia were hoping for better.
There was no luck of the Irish for Adam Carroll (Team Ireland).
Adam Khan (Team Pakistan) is gradually moving up the grid.
It was a disaster for the home team with Adrian Zaugg starting from the back in the Sprint Race.
Narain Karthikeyan (Team India) did as well as he could despite suffering from damaged hands.
Edoardo Piscopo (Team Italy).
Jonathan Summerton tries to keep cool in the Team USA car.
Khali Beschir (Team Lebanon).
Josef Kral (Team Czech Republic) struggled on his A1GP debut.
A colourful line-up.