A1GP - MEXICO CITY, MEXICO: QUALIFYING DAY 1
A1 Team Great Britain topped the time sheets in the second of today's two free practice sessions in Mexico City, as the eighth round of the 2007/08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport got underway at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in warm and sunny weather conditions. Great Britain's Oliver Jarvis, who took the British team's first A1GP victory at the Mexican circuit last year, was the man to beat this afternoon, clocking a 1m21.431s lap of the 4.08km circuit. Having set the pace early on in the hour, Jarvis improved on his lap time with 15 minutes of the session remaining, reclaiming the top spot and demoting current title leader Swizterland's Neel Jani to second.
The Swiss car was closely followed by Ireland's Adam Carroll in third, ending a strong day for the Irish squad, rookie Niall Quinn having posted the second fastest time this morning. Jeroen Bleekemolen was fourth quickest in the Dutch car this afternoon while South Africa's Adrian Zaugg finished the day fifth overall.
GBR's position was momentarily under threat by a late charge from New Zealand's Jonny Reid, however the Kiwi's time was deleted as he cut the tight chicane leading into the Peraltada corner, moving him down the order to sixth overall. Reid was not alone, many drivers committed the same offence throughout both practice sessions, causing their lap to be ruined and their time deleted.
This afternoon's session was incredibly close, with the top 14 drivers separated by just over a second. The track is renowned for its bumpy surface and turn four seemed to cause the most problems for the drivers today, many commenting on the bumps and rough surface making handling difficult.
GBR's Oliver Jarvis was delighted with his team's performance and is targeting a repeat performance of last year's Feature race win:
'I'm very happy to be back here in Mexico, where I got my first win last year. I'm slightly disappointed that it's not the same circuit layout - I can understand the chicane being put in to slow you down but turn four is a bit of a disappointment to drive with the bad surface. It's still a very good track though and the surface will get better as the weekend goes on and more rubber gets laid down giving us more grip. I'm delighted to be at the top of the times. We're very close to Switzerland but that's to be expected, Neel Jani's having a great time at the moment - his confidence is very high and they've got the car sorted and I think it's going to be very close come qualifying tomorrow.'
Mexico's David Martinez set the fifth fastest time this morning while team-mate David Garza finished 19th overall this afternoon. Garza was disappointed but remains optimistic ahead of qualifying tomorrow:
'We struggled a lot with the car and the problems are really hurting us. It's really easy to lock the brakes and we're on the rev limiter in sixth gear the whole way down the long straight. That along with the altitude here is really a big problem for us. I hope the car for tomorrow will be better and I'll be working hard on the set up of the car tonight to try and make something work.'
A1 Team Italy led the way in the opening free practice session this morning, with A1GP new boy Davide Rigon making an instant impression, lapping the circuit nearly three tenths quicker than anyone else. Niall Quinn was second quickest for Ireland, which was his best showing in the three rookie sessions he has competed in this season. South Africa's Wesleigh Orr was third fastest ahead of French rookie Nicolas Prost.
This morning's session was the first time the A1GP drivers experienced the revised layout of the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, with the shorter version proving about three seconds quicker than last season's layout.
In addition to adding a chicane just before the final high-speed Peraltada corner to aid overtaking and improve safety, three corners will also be missed out in the middle of the course to keep the lap time and race lengths at roughly the same distance as last year's, using one of the alternate layouts of the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. Turn four has now become a left-hand turn instead of a right-hander and the track rejoins the original course at turn nine, making the circuit length 4.08km, instead of the 4.42km it was last season.
Official Practice Session 1 - Rookie drivers and developing nations only.
POS DRIVER A1 TEAM TIME1 Davide RIGON ITALY 01:22.810
2 Niall QUINN IRELAND 01:23.103
3 Wesleigh ORR SOUTH AFRICA 01:23.106
4 Nicolas PROST FRANCE 01:23.168
5 David MARTINEZ MEXICO 01:23.486
6 Daniel MORAD CANADA 01:23.716
7 Felipe GUIMARAES BRAZIL 01:23.773
8 Adam KHAN PAKISTAN 01:24.004
9 Satrio HERMANTO INDONESIA 01:24.061
10 John MARTIN AUSTRALIA 01:24.104
11 Filip SALAQUARDA CZECH REPUBLIC 01:24.196
12 Rahel FREY SWITZERLAND 01:24.200
13 Duncan TAPPY GREAT BRITAIN 01:24.253
14 Arie LUYENDYK NETHERLANDS 01:24.329
15 Bruno SERRA PORTUGAL 01:24.529
16 Parthiva SURESHWAREN INDIA 01:25.414
17 Jimmy AUBY LEBANON 01:25.942
18 Aaron LIM MALAYSIA 01:25.787
Official Practice session 2
POS DRIVER A1 TEAM TIME1 Oliver JARVIS GREAT BRITAIN 01:21.431
2 Neel JANI SWITZERLAND 01:21.482
3 Adam CARROLL IRELAND 01:21.808
4 Jeroen BLEEKEMOLEN NETHERLANDS 01:21.876
5 Adrian ZAUGG SOUTH AFRICA 01:21.883
6 Jonny REID NEW ZEALAND 01:21.884
7 Jonathan SUMMERTON USA 01:21.942
8 Michael AMMERMÜLLER GERMANY 01:21.974
9 Bruno JUNQUEIRA BRAZIL 01:22.126
10 Alex YOONG MALAYSIA 01:22.127
11 Robert WICKENS CANADA 01:22.227
12 Jonathan COCHET FRANCE 01:22.343
13 Congfu CHENG CHINA 01:22.362
14 Edoardo PISCOPO ITALY 01:22.525
15 Filipe ALBUQUERQUE PORTUGAL 01:22.586
16 Narain KARTHIKEYAN INDIA 01:22.704
17 Adam KHAN PAKISTAN 01:22.785
18 Jimmy AUBY LEBANON 01:22.885
19 David GARZA MEXICO 01:22.935
20 Filip SALAQUARDA CZECH REPUBLIC 01:23.241
21 John MARTIN AUSTRALIA 01:23.336
22 Satrio HERMANTO INDONESIA 01:23.454
Reporting by A1GP.com
All pictures Lola Heritage.
Oliver Jarvis (Team Great Britain) topped the timesheets today.
Neel Jani (Team Switzerland) finished second quickest.
Third fastest for Adam Carroll (Team Ireland).
Fourth for Team Netherlands and Jeroen Bleekemolen.
Adrian Zaugg (Team South Africa) was one of the quick runners finishing fifth.
Jonny Reid took sixth for Team New Zealand.
Jonathan Summerton was seventh for Team USA.
Michael Ammermüller (Team Germany) could only manage eighth.
Ninth placed Bruno Junqueira (Team Brazil) talks to Emerson Fittipaldi.
Alex Yoong, seen here on the left with fellow Team Malaysia driver Aaron Lim, rounded out the top ten.
New for Team Lebanon this weekend is Jimmy Auby...
...as is Filip Salaquarda for Team Czech Republic.
Davide Rigon was fastest in the Rookie session for Team Italy...
...closely followed by Niall Quinn for Team Ireland.
Felipe Guimaraes was a new face for Team Brazil...
...as was Duncan Tappy for Team Great Britain.