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Switzerland Set the Pace in Chengdu

A1GP
Friday, November 07, 2008

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Neel Jani in China
A1GP
Chengdu, China
– The A1GP Powered by Ferrari cars took to the Chengdu International Circuit in China for the first time today. Nicolas Prost started the day as the quickest rookie and reigning champion Switzerland set the pace this afternoon with Neel Jani’s time of 1m 16.349s.

In an incident-packed first day on track, the rookies and developing nations were joined in the opening official practice session by USA and India, the teams yet to complete the same amount of testing mileage as the other teams. India’s Narain Karthikeyan topped the timesheet with a 1m16.710s, as the team began to make up for lost time after missing the season-opener at Zandvoort, but France’s Nicolas Prost was the quickest rookie.

“It went pretty well,” said the 27-year-old Frenchman making his A1GP race debut this weekend. “We had a small problem in the first session with the engine and a little spin, but it was good and I got a grasp of the track pretty quickly. It’s good to be up there right at the beginning though. I’m not really used to this kind of bumpy track but I think this is the same for everyone. The track is pretty interesting and the bumps make it even more interesting so you just have to deal with it.” Prost, who is taking over race driver duties from Zandvoort Feature race winner Loïc Duval didn’t know if he was more excited or nervous about tomorrow. He added: “There is a lot of pressure on me, of course, but the team understand that it’s my first race so I’m just going to try to do as good as I can and see what happens.”

Thirty-minutes into the official practice session this afternoon, the first red flag came out as Malaysia was stranded out on track after a spin. France had initially set the pace, but after the session was re-started Switzerland went quicker and remained at the top despite two more red flags caused by local favorite China’s Ho-Pin Tung.

“This afternoon was the first time I have ever driven on this circuit but it’s very bumpy and dirty at the moment,” said the Swiss driver, “so it’s just been about finding the quickest line for us, which wasn’t always the traditional ideal line as everyone seemed to be taking alternative quick routes.

“It will definitely be one of the hardest A1GP races so far because it’s so easy to make mistakes on the bumps. That one qualifying lap will be something in between playing it safe and finding the limit of the car.”

Tung said: “Although it’s our home race, this track is also new for me so we are still learning and will make some further set-up changes in order to improve the car’s stability over the bumps.”

After making a flying start to the day, India carried the momentum into the afternoon, finishing third just 0.125-secomds behind Switzerland with South Africa’s Adrian Zaugg posting a quick time towards the end of his run to move up to fourth.

Marco Andretti made his A1GP debut for Team USA
A1GP
Former F1 driver, Robert Doornbos made his A1 Team Netherlands debut, finishing fifth while Marco Andretti made a promising start on his debut for the USA in eighth, just 0.834-seconds adrift of Jani.

As well as allowing India and the USA in the Rookie sessions to increase there testing mileage, there were also two hours of additional running for them and  Great Britain. A1 Team GBR’s Danny Watts commented: “We have a good set up at this early stage. We’re not really worried too much about lap time we just want to make sure we have the car set up correctly and make sure everything is ok.”

A1 Team Mexico’s David Garza also got his first taste of the A1GP Powered by Ferrari car, but as his own car was still not ready he did this in A1 Team Switzerland’s machine. The Mexican team has also been allocated additional running on Saturday.

Official Practice Session 1 – Rookie drivers and developing nations only – Part 1

POS

A1 TEAM

DRIVER

TIME

GAP FIRST

LAPS

1

GREAT BRITAIN

Danny WATTS

01:17.934

-

10

2

INDIA

Narain KARTHIKEYAN

01:17.966

0.032

9

3

SWITZERLAND

Alexandre IMPERATORI

01:18.292

0.358

12

4

BRAZIL

Felipe GUIMARAES

01:18.625

0.691

13

5

FRANCE

Nicolas PROST

01:18.802

0.868

12

6

USA

Marco ANDRETTI

01:18.828

0.894

11

7

NEW ZEALAND

Chris VAN DER DRIFT

01:19.335

1.401

16

8

ITALY

Christian MONTANARI

01:19.346

1.412

19

9

NETHERLANDS

Dennis RETERA

01:20.303

2.369

9

10

INDONESIA

Zahir ALI

01:20.356

2.422

13

11

LEBANON

Daniel MORAD

01:20.952

3.018

9

12

IRELAND

Niall QUINN

01:21.480

3.546

12

13

MALAYSIA

Aaron LIM

01:22.402

4.468

11

14

KOREA

Jin Woo HWANG

01:22.981

5.047

7

Official Practice Session 1 – Rookie drivers and developing nations only – Part 2

POS

TEAM

DRIVER

TIME

GAP FIRST

LAPS

1

INDIA

Narain KARTHIKEYAN

01:16.710

-

16

2

FRANCE

Nicolas PROST

01:16.722

0.012

11

3

SWITZERLAND

Alexandre IMPERATORI

01:17.262

0.552

18

4

BRAZIL

Felipe GUIMARAES

01:17.310

0.6

17

5

NEW ZEALAND

Chris VAN DER DRIFT

01:17.460

0.75

16

6

USA

Marco ANDRETTI

01:17.528

0.818

15

7

INDONESIA

Zahir ALI

01:17.936

1.226

20

8

ITALY

Christian MONTANARI

01:18.048

1.338

17

9

LEBANON

Daniel MORAD

01:18.166

1.456

10

10

IRELAND

Niall QUINN

01:18.486

1.776

14

11

NETHERLANDS

Dennis RETERA

01:18.826

2.116

16

12

MALAYSIA

Aaron LIM

01:19.473

2.763

15

13

GREAT BRITAIN

Danny WATTS

0

14

KOREA

Jin Woo HWANG

0

Official Practice session 2

POS

A1 TEAM

DRIVER

TIME

GAP FIRST

LAPS

1

SWITZERLAND

Neel JANI

01:16.349

-

25

2

FRANCE

Nicolas PROST

01:16.446

0.097

21

3

INDIA

Narain KARTHIKEYAN

01:16.474

0.125

7

4

SOUTH AFRICA

Adrian ZAUGG

01:16.557

0.208

26

5

NETHERLANDS

Robert DOORNBOS

01:16.558

0.209

26

6

GREAT BRITAIN

Danny WATTS

01:16.601

0.252

19

7

PORTUGAL

Filipe ALBUQUERQUE

01:17.059

0.71

25

8

USA

Marco ANDRETTI

01:17.183

0.834

20

9

IRELAND

Adam CARROLL

01:17.183

0.834

24

10

MALAYSIA

Fairuz FAUZY

01:17.200

0.851

27

11

BRAZIL

Felipe GUIMARAES

01:17.234

0.885

20

12

AUSTRALIA

John MARTIN

01:17.323

0.974

31

13

LEBANON

Daniel MORAD

01:17.469

1.12

18

14

NEW ZEALAND

Chris VAN DER DRIFT

01:17.683

1.334

19

15

ITALY

Edoardo PISCOPO

01:18.136

1.787

29

16

MONACO

Clivio PICCIONE

01:18.233

1.884

28

17

CHINA

Ho Pin TUNG

01:18.668

2.319

22

18

INDONESIA

Satrio HERMANTO

01:19.031

2.682

30

19

KOREA

Jin Woo HWANG

01:20.541

4.192

21

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