A1GP - SHANGHAI, CHINA: QUALIFYING DAY 2
A1 Team France topped the time sheets in this morning's third and final official practice session at the Shanghai International Circuit ahead of qualifying for the A1GP Shanghai, China this afternoon.
A1GP new boy, France's Franck Montagny, was strong throughout final practice this morning and set the fastest lap time overall on new tyres with 15 minutes of the session remaining. Montagny's breathtaking lap of 1m35.470s knocked current title leader Switzerland's Neel Jani, who was running on used tyres, off the top spot, which he had held for the majority of the 50-minute session.
Second-placed Switzerland was closely followed by Italy's Edoardo Piscopo in third, who, like France, had the benefit of running on fresh tyres, while last year's Shanghai Feature race winner, New Zealand's Jonny Reid, set the fourth fastest time overall.
Great Britain's Robbie Kerr ended the session in a strong fifth position, followed by Portugal's Filipe Albuquerque in sixth, who was the man to beat around the 4.6km state-of-the-art circuit yesterday.
Canada's Robert Wickens, who arrived at the circuit on Friday afternoon straight from Barcelona, where he had been carrying out testing duties for the World Series by Renault, steadily improved throughout the session to finish seventh overall.
Michael Ammermüller was eighth quickest in the German car followed by India's Narain Karthikeyan and home nation China's Congfu Cheng in ninth and tenth positions respectively.
All 22 nations competing in the World Cup of Motorsport are now preparing their cars for Sprint and Feature race qualifying, which 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 Franck MONTAGNY FRANCE 01:35.470
2 Neel JANI SWITZERLAND 01:35.556
3 Edoardo PISCOPO ITALY 01:35.703
4 Jonny REID NEW ZEALAND 01:35.834
5 Robbie KERR GREAT BRITAIN 01:36.040
6 Filipe ALBUQUERQUE PORTUGAL 01:36.059
7 Robert WICKENS CANADA 01:36.082
8 Michael AMMERMÜLLER GERMANY 01:36.086
9 Narain KARTHIKEYAN INDIA 01:36.157
10 Congfu CHENG CHINA 01:36.322
11 Alex YOONG MALAYSIA 01:36.334
12 Filip SALAQUARDA CZECH REPUBLIC 01:36.346
13 Jonathan SUMMERTON USA 01:36.634
14 Adrian ZAUGG SOUTH AFRICA 01:36.652
15 Xandi NEGRAO BRAZIL 01:36.662
16 John MARTIN AUSTRALIA 01:36.930
17 Jeroen BLEEKEMOLEN NETHERLANDS 01:36.986
18 Adam CARROLL IRELAND 01:37.148
19 Adam KHAN PAKISTAN 01:37.454
20 Satrio HERMANTO INDONESIA 01:37.614
21 Jimmy AUBY LEBANON 01:38.039
22 Jorge GOETERS MEXICO 01:38.542
Sprint Race qualifying
Twenty-four-year-old Neel Jani set the fastest lap in the closing moments of the second 15-minute qualifying segment to take pole position for tomorrow morning's Sprint race from Portugal's Filipe Albuquerque, who set the fastest lap during Q1 and has been on superb form all weekend.
Canada's Robert Wickens, who only arrived in China yesterday (Friday) due to prior testing commitments in Europe, put in an incredible performance to qualify third. India's Narain Karthikeyan, who was also on fine form, will line up alongside Wickens in fourth while New Zealand's Jonny Reid qualified in fifth position on the third row, a disappointing result for the title contenders.
USA's Jonathan Summerton, who finished on the Feature race podium last time out in Mexico, will start the race from sixth alongside Reid while Malaysia's Alex Yoong and Ireland's Adam Carroll will line up behind him in seventh and eighth place respectively on row four. Germany's Michael Ammermüller and Great Britain's Robbie Kerr complete the top ten grid positions.
Feature race qualifying
Having secured the Sprint race pole, Switzerland's Neel Jani stormed to the top spot for the Feature race, improving on his provisional pole time set in Q3 by half a second to make it another double pole position for the Swiss team.
Jonathan Summerton continued to impress in the USA car and will line up alongside Jani in second place on the front row. Portugal's Filipe Albuquerque leapt up the order during the final qualifying segment to snatch third position and he will be joined on the second row by Ireland's Adam Carroll, who shot up to fourth place in the closing moments of Q4.
India's Narain Karthikeyan and Malaysia's Alex Yoong will start the Feature race from fifth and sixth place respectively while New Zealand's Jonny Reid could only manage seventh on the grid. GBR's Robbie Kerr will line up alongside him in eighth and the pair will be followed off the grid by South Africa's Adrian Zaugg in ninth and France's Franck Montagny, who was flying this morning, in tenth.
Home nation A1 Team China's Congfu Cheng endured a difficult day, qualifying in 15th for the Sprint race and 20th for the Feature, having battled with technical problems relating to the suspension system on the Chinese car.
With Switzerland's nearest challengers in the title battle, New Zealand, France and GBR, all experiencing disappointing qualifying sessions, Jani has put the Swiss car in a perfect position to increase his team's lead and stamp Switzerland's authority on the championship.
Jani has now notched up seven pole positions during his A1GP career and secured two double poles this season, his first at round three in Malaysia. His stunning performance today means the Swiss star now holds the record for the most number of pole positions secured by an A1GP driver, beating five which was previously held jointly by him and Adrian Zaugg.
Sprint and Feature race pole-sitter Neel Jani, whose main aim is to pick up maximum championship points tomorrow, said:
'The team did a great job. We were struggling a little bit for the first run in qualifying but then we made a change and from then on we had fantastic pace. We don't know about the weather for tomorrow - it might rain which could change everything. If I get a good start there is nothing to worry about and I think the guys next to me are sensible and they don't want to go out either. I don't need to win at the moment, I just need points and that's what I'm going for. If I can win, even better!'
Portuguese rookie Filipe Albuquerque, who will start the Sprint race from second and the Feature race from third on the grid, is targeting his first A1GP victory:
'This is only my third race so I'm quite happy to be starting second and third and I think we did a good job. I thought I had got pole for the Sprint but Neel was just way too fast so I think P2 was the best we could do. Then for Feature qualifying I was behind Wickens (Canada) and he made a small mistake and I couldn't put my lap together but still third is ok with those mistakes. I'm happy to be on the first row in the Sprint race and if I have a chance to overtake Neel I will definitely go for the first place. We're nowhere in the championship so I don't care about the points I just care about the win.'
Tomorrow's Sprint race in Shanghai will start at 11.00 local time and the 70-minute Feature race will start at 15.00.
Sprint race qualifying results - A1GP Shanghai, China (round 9 of 10)
POS A1 TEAM DRIVER BEST TIME1 SWITZERLAND Neel JANI 1:34.163
2 PORTUGAL Filipe ALBUQUERQUE 1:34.613
3 CANADA Robert WICKENS 1:34.682
4 INDIA Narain KARTHIKEYAN 1:34.688
5 NEW ZEALAND Jonny REID 1:34.742
6 USA Jonathan SUMMERTON 1:34.791
7 MALAYSIA Alex YOONG 1:34.850
8 IRELAND Adam CARROLL 1:34.928
9 GERMANY Michael AMMERMÜLLER 1:35.012
10 GREAT BRITAIN Robbie KERR 1:35.015
11 SOUTH AFRICA Adrian ZAUGG 1:35.198
12 ITALY Edoardo PISCOPO 1:35.224
13 AUSTRALIA John MARTIN 1:35.336
14 BRAZIL Xandi NEGRAO 1:35.492
15 CHINA Congfu CHENG 1:35.508
16 CZECH REPUBLIC Filip SALAQUARDA 1:35.590
17 NETHERLANDS Jeroen BLEEKEMOLEN 1:35.670
18 FRANCE Franck MONTAGNY 1:35.789
19 PAKISTAN Adam KHAN 1:35.923
20 LEBANON Jimmy AUBY 1:35.931
21 INDONESIA Satrio HERMANTO 1:36.612
22 MEXICO Jorge GOETERS 1:38.312
Feature race qualifying results - A1GP Shanghai, China (round 9 of 10)
POS A1 TEAM DRIVER BEST TIME1 SWITZERLAND Neel JANI 1:34.172
2 USA Jonathan SUMMERTON 1:34.626
3 PORTUGAL Filipe ALBUQUERQUE 1:35.022
4 IRELAND Adam CARROLL 1:35.035
5 INDIA Narain KARTHIKEYAN 1:35.195
6 MALAYSIA Alex YOONG 1:35.207
7 NEW ZEALAND Jonny REID 1:35.283
8 GREAT BRITAIN Robbie KERR 1:35.357
9 SOUTH AFRICA Adrian ZAUGG 1:35.392
10 FRANCE Franck MONTAGNY 1:35.496
11 ITALY Edoardo PISCOPO 1:35.520
12 CANADA Robert WICKENS 1:35.554
13 GERMANY Michael AMMERMÜLLER 1:35.558
14 CZECH REPUBLIC Filip SALAQUARDA 1:35.611
15 AUSTRALIA John MARTIN 1:35.653
16 PAKISTAN Adam KHAN 1:35.865
17 BRAZIL Xandi NEGRAO 1:35.887
18 NETHERLANDS Jeroen BLEEKEMOLEN 1:35.921
19 LEBANON Jimmy AUBY 1:36.066
20 CHINA Congfu CHENG 1:36.136
21 INDONESIA Satrio HERMANTO 1:36.326
22 MEXICO Jorge GOETERS 1:37.440
Reporting by A1GP.com
All pictures A1GP.com.
Pole position for both the Sprint and Feature Races for Neel Jani (Team Switzerland).
Filipe Albuquerque (Team Portugal) continued to impress by qualifying in the top three for both races.
A delighted Jonathan Summerton (Team USA) starts second in the Feature Race.
Rob Wickens (Team Canada) qualified third for the Sprint Race.
Adam Carroll will start fourth in the Feature Race.
Narain Karthikeyan (Team India) was very competitive in both qualifying sessions.
Two top seven starts for Jonny Reid (Team New Zealand).
Alex Yoong (Team Malaysia) is gradually getting back on the pace.
A number of front running teams will be very disappointed with their results including Robbie Kerr (Team GBR)...
...Michael Ammermüller (Team Germany)...
...Franck Montagny (Team France)...
...Adrian Zaugg (Team South Africa)...
...and Jeroen Bleekemolen (Team Netherlands).
Xandi Negrao (Team Brazil) would also liked to have been closer to the front.
Filip Salaquarda (Team Czech Republic) is starting to find his feet in A1GP.
John Martin (Team Australia).
The home fans will be disappointed in the performance of the Team China car.
Adam Khan (Team Pakistan).
Jimmy Auby (Team Lebanon).
Jorge Goeters (Team Mexico) is struggling to find his feet in the competitive world of A1GP.