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France Flies in Friday Practice at Eastern Creek

A1GP
Friday, February 01, 2008

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Loic Duval
Australia - A1 Team France was on incredible form today, topping the time sheets in the second of today's two free practice sessions at Sydney's Eastern Creek Raceway as round six of the 2007/08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport season got underway in wet and overcast conditions.

The 25-year-old French driver Loic Duval, who landed in Sydney on Friday morning and arrived at the track just one hour before the afternoon session began, managed to sign-on and complete all the necessary technical briefings required to take part in this weekend's A1GP event. Duval recorded the best lap of the day on his first flying lap around the 3.93 km circuit, a blisteringly quick 1m18.675s, slashing A1 Team Germany's lap record by half a second.

Canadian rookie Robert Wickens clocked the second fastest time of the day, closely followed by Great Britain's Robbie Kerr in third and current championship leader New Zealand's Jonny Reid in fourth.

Lebanon's Chris Alajajian was on superb form today, setting the fifth quickest lap overall and the second fastest time of the hour this morning, recording the nation's best ever time during a rookie and developing nations session.

Home nation A1 Team Australia's John Martin set the pace in this morning's rookie session on a drying track, putting in a series of competitive lap times and taking the top spot. The 23-year-old, who finished the day seventh overall behind the Netherlands' Jeroen Bleekemolen, is aiming high for qualifying tomorrow in front of his home crowd:

'Obviously we won't be happy unless we're on pole tomorrow, but I think that top five would be a reasonably good result for my second meeting. The car was ok today but we made a few changes between the sessions. We had to wait for the track to clear up a bit and then the China car spun so I didn't really get the best lap on lap one, so I came straight back to the pits. Then when I went back out after that the grip was never the same so I guess seventh isn't too bad, but I would've loved to have been a bit higher up.'

Duval was all smiles on Friday
France's Loic Duval, who set the fastest time of the day despite arriving at the circuit just one hour before the session started, thinks there is still room for improvement:

'It was a bit tight for me because I arrived here at 1pm on the track, 11am at the airport, but I am quite happy. My lap was not perfect but still it was enough to get the best lap time. This afternoon the car was not too bad. We still have to improve a bit though, especially on my driving we have a bit to do.'

A1 Team Australia seat holder Alan Jones was pleased with John Martin's performance today:

'We are very pleased. When we tested John at Silverstone he showed promise. Then he backed that up consistently when he did the rookie drives. Because of that he has been rewarded with the lead drive and he hasn't disappointed. At New Zealand he really didn't get a chance to get into his stride for one reason or another, but we knew that there was an underlying thing there. New Zealand was the first time John had experienced push to pass and the first time he'd done a one lap dash on new tires, so a lot of firsts for him. We knew that with that under his belt he'd be good here and I think he proved that in the rookies this morning.'

A1 Team Switzerland, title leader when the series arrived for round five in New Zealand last month and defending champion Germany, struggled at Eastern Creek today, finishing the day 12th and 14th respectively.

Official Practice Session 1 - Rookie drivers and developing nations only

POS A1 TEAM DRIVER TIME S1 LAP S1 TIME S2 LAP S2 TIME GAP FIRST
1 AUSTRALIA John MARTIN 01:31.148 12 01:20.530 6 01:20.530
2 LEBANON Chris ALAJAJIAN 01:32.332 11 01:21.340 9 01:21.340 ×0.81
3 GREAT BRITAIN James WINSLOW 01:35.289 8 01:21.521 12 01:21.521 ×0.991
4 MALAYSIA Fairuz FAUZY 01:31.740 12 01:21.781 10 01:21.781 ×1.251
5 FRANCE Jonathan COCHET 01:30.650 12 01:21.807 11 01:21.807 ×1.277
6 NEW ZEALAND Earl BAMBER 01:39.235 5 01:21.833 13 01:21.833 ×1.303
7 MEXICO David GARZA 01:28.482 13 01:21.872 12 01:21.872 ×1.342
8 CANADA Robert WICKENS 01:30.811 9 01:21.955 8 01:21.955 ×1.425
9 GERMANY Michael KLEIN 01:34.473 11 01:22.252 10 01:22.252 ×1.722
10 SOUTH AFRICA Wesleigh ORR 01:31.087 9 01:22.579 9 01:22.579 ×2.049
11 ITALY Edoardo PISCOPO 01:32.017 13 01:22.608 9 01:22.608 ×2.078
12 INDONESIA Satrio HERMANTO 01:36.239 13 01:22.789 10 01:22.789 ×2.259
13 SWITZERLAND Tom DILLMAN 01:33.280 11 01:22.816 11 01:22.816 ×2.286
14 BRAZIL Clemente DE FARIA JR. 01:31.503 13 01:22.972 11 01:22.972 ×2.442
15 NETHERLANDS Arie LUYENDYK 01:33.973 9 01:23.028 9 01:23.028 ×2.498
16 IRELAND Niall QUINN 01:35.845 11 01:24.435 9 01:24.435 ×3.905
17 PORTUGAL Federico DUARTE 01:37.354 5 01:25.359 10 01:25.359 ×4.829
18 CZECH REPUBLIC Jarek JANIS 01:56.044 5 0 01:56.044 ×35.514

Official Practice session 2 (14.00 - 15.00)

POS DRIVER A1 TEAM LAP TIME GAP FIRST LAPS
1 Loic DUVAL FRANCE 2 01:18.675 - 24
2 Robert WICKENS CANADA 2 01:18.941 ×0.266 19
3 Robbie KERR GREAT BRITAIN 3 01:18.996 ×0.321 18
4 Jonny REID NEW ZEALAND 3 01:19.102 ×0.427 21
5 Chris ALAJAJIAN LEBANON 2 01:19.337 ×0.662 17
6 Jeroen BLEEKEMOLEN NETHERLANDS 4 01:19.669 ×0.994 21
7 John MARTIN AUSTRALIA 4 01:19.710 ×1.035 15
8 David GARZA MEXICO 4 01:19.854 ×1.179 20
9 Jonathan SUMMERTON USA 4 01:19.914 ×1.239 25
10 Congfu CHENG CHINA 6 01:19.990 ×1.315 28
11 Sergio JIMENEZ BRAZIL 12 01:20.062 ×1.387 26
12 Neel JANI SWITZERLAND 3 01:20.167 ×1.492 25
13 Satrio HERMANTO INDONESIA 4 01:20.535 ×1.860 28
14 Michael AMMERMÜLLER GERMANY 7 01:20.562 ×1.887 15
15 Tomas ENGE CZECH REPUBLIC 3 01:20.621 ×1.946 28
16 Edoardo PISCOPO ITALY 3 01:20.840 ×2.165 25
17 Adrian ZAUGG SOUTH AFRICA 4 01:20.891 ×2.216 18
18 Narain KARTHIKEYAN INDIA 5 01:20.936 ×2.261 29
19 Fairuz FAUZY MALAYSIA 7 01:21.028 ×2.353 20
20 Joao URBANO PORTUGAL 18 01:21.484 ×2.809 22
21 Adam KHAN PAKISTAN 5 01:21.633 ×2.958 33
22 Adam CARROLL IRELAND 3 01:21.797 ×3.122 27

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