A1GP - SHANGHAI, CHINA: QUALIFYING DAY 1
A1 Team Portugal's Filipe Albuquerque was on superb form today, topping the time sheets in both of the official free practice sessions in Shanghai, as the penultimate round of the 2007/08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport got underway at the Shanghai International Circuit in cool and cloudy conditions. Twenty-two year old Albuquerque, who scored an impressive first podium finish on his A1GP debut in Durban seven weeks ago, was the man to beat this afternoon, setting a time of 1m35.223s around the 4.6km Chinese circuit. Having set the pace early on in this morning's rookie driver and developing nations session, Portugal's Albuquerque improved on his lap time by over a second this afternoon, again in the opening minutes of the session, and held the top spot for the remainder of the hour.
The Portuguese car was closely followed by New Zealand's Jonny Reid, who won the Shanghai Feature race last year and has his sights firmly set on a repeat performance on Sunday. Filip Salaquarda, who represented his nation in Shanghai last year, was third quickest in the Czech car this afternoon while current title leader Switzerland's Neel Jani finished fourth fastest overall, just ahead of Germany's Michael Ammermüller in fifth.
Franck Montagny was impressive on his A1GP debut for France, clocking the fourth fastest time on only his second run in the French car and ending the afternoon seventh overall behind GBR's Robbie Kerr, admitted it had been a long time since he had driven a car like this and he just needed a bit more time to get used to it as he described it as 'quite nervous'.
Home nation China's Congfu (Franky) Cheng, who is not eligible to take part in the rookie sessions, finished the day ninth fastest behind USA's Jonathan Summerton.
The times have been close today, with just over a second separating the top 12 this afternoon, setting the scene for a tremendous qualifying session at the Shanghai International Circuit tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon.
Portuguese rookie Filipe Albuquerque, who was the man to beat today, is aiming for his first A1GP pole position tomorrow:
'It's always good to do as many laps as possible because I'm a rookie in this car. I'm still learning the skills to drive it and put it all together perfectly and the more laps I do the better I get. The pace of the car is getting good, especially with the new tyres and I think we are in the running for the pole. I would prefer it for sure, but it's not going to be as easy as it looks. I'm still working on the car but I'm not happy with the speed and I need a lot more. We will see but definitely we are on the front run to get to the pole.'
China's Congfu Cheng, who finished the day ninth overall, reflected on the first day of action in Shanghai and looked ahead to qualifying tomorrow:
'It's a pity that I didn't take part in the rookie session this morning because I would have had more laps to get used to the set up of the car and the new tyres and get more familiar with the circuit. I raced here last year though and I will be able to give more information to my team tonight and during practice tomorrow morning. The qualifying session tomorrow will be very competitive and I'm sure we will be able to improve on today.'
Official Practice Session 1 - Rookie drivers and developing nations only.
POS A1 TEAM DRIVER TIME1 PORTUGAL Filipe ALBUQUERQUE 01:36.575
2 FRANCE Nicolas PROST 01:36.895
3 SWITZERLAND Alexandre IMPERATORI 01:36.902
4 CANADA Daniel MORAD 01:36.969
5 ITALY Davide RIGON 01:36.989
6 GREAT BRITAIN Duncan TAPPY 01:37.504
7 AUSTRALIA Nathan ANTUNES 01:37.793
8 IRELAND Niall QUINN 01:37.912
9 BRAZIL Felipe GUIMARAES 01:38.018
10 CZECH REPUBLIC Filip SALAQUARDA 01:38.106
11 NETHERLANDS Arie LUYENDYK 01:38.144
12 SOUTH AFRICA Wesleigh ORR 01:38.335
13 MALAYSIA Aaron LIM 01:38.361
14 INDONESIA Satrio HERMANTO 01:38.886
15 LEBANON Jimmy AUBY 01:38.895
16 INDIA Parthiva SURESHWAREN 01:40.190
Official Practice session 2
POS DRIVER A1 TEAM TIME1 Filipe ALBUQUERQUE PORTUGAL 01:35.223
2 Jonny REID NEW ZEALAND 01:35.600
3 Filip SALAQUARDA CZECH REPUBLIC 01:35.609
4 Neel JANI SWITZERLAND 01:35.646
5 Michael AMMERMÜLLER GERMANY 01:35.657
6 Robbie KERR GREAT BRITAIN 01:35.689
7 Franck MONTAGNY FRANCE 01:35.822
8 Jonathan SUMMERTON USA 01:35.845
9 Congfu CHENG CHINA 01:35.903
10 Daniel MORAD CANADA 01:35.913
11 Adrian ZAUGG SOUTH AFRICA 01:36.428
12 Jeroen BLEEKEMOLEN NETHERLANDS 01:36.457
13 Xandi NEGRAO BRAZIL 01:36.482
14 Adam CARROLL IRELAND 01:36.523
15 Alex YOONG MALAYSIA 01:36.543
16 Edoardo PISCOPO ITALY 01:36.560
17 Narain KARTHIKEYAN INDIA 01:36.584
18 John MARTIN AUSTRALIA 01:36.598
19 Adam KHAN PAKISTAN 01:37.049
20 Jimmy AUBY LEBANON 01:37.166
21 Satrio HERMANTO INDONESIA 01:37.456
22 Jorge GOETERS MEXICO 01:38.414
Reporting by A1GP.com
All pictures A1GP.com.
Filipe Albuquerque (Team Portugal) was impressive in today's practice sessions.
Jonny Reid moved Team New Zealand back to the top of the time sheets.
A surprise third fastest was Filip Salaquarda for Team Czech Republic.
Fourth for Neel Jani (Team Switzerland).
Michael Ammermüller (Team Germany) finished fifth.
Robbie Kerr took sixth for Team Great Britain.
Seventh for Team France and Franck Montagny.
Jonathan Summerton (Team USA) was only 0.6 of a second away from the fastest time
Congfu Cheng (Team China) kept the home fans happy with the ninth quickest time.
Daniel Morad (Team Canada) completed the top ten.
A new face for Team Brazil on race day will be Xandi Negrao.
Jorge Goeters is debuting for Team Mexico.
Nicolas Prost went well for Team France in the Rookie session.
Alexandre Imperatori drove for Team Switzerland in the Rookie Session...
...As did Felipe Guimaraes for Team Brazil.
Filipe Albuquerque and Congfu Cheng exchange greetings.