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Danny Watts puts British team on top

A1GP Practice in Malaysia
Friday, November 21, 2008

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Danny Watts
A1GP
Danny Watts tops the timesheets for A1 Team Great Britain in official practice as third round of A1GP World Cup of Motorsport in Sepang, Malaysia gets underway.

A1 Team Great Britain made a good start to its preparations for the third round of the 2008/09 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport today, with Danny Watts setting the quickest time in the first rookie practice session and then improving on that to take the fastest lap of the weekend so far in the afternoon’s one-hour practice at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia.

Danny hit the track this morning for the rookie practice session, which is split into two half hour segments. The British squad were on the pace straight away but Danny was still able to improve, setting his fastest lap of the session on the ninth of his 11 laps with a time of 1:51.096, putting him at the top of the timesheets. In the second rookie half hour, he set a lap two tenths slower than his segment one time, putting him third quickest of the session, with France and New Zealand ahead.

As usual, ex-Champ Car driver Neel Jani was right near the top of the timesheets
A1GP
In the one hour practice this afternoon, Danny went out at the start and set a stunning time of 1:50.038 on his first flying lap, which was never bettered, despite the improvement of the track conditions bringing the times closer towards the end of the hour. GBR will have a further one hour testing session tomorrow morning with the rest of the grid ahead of the afternoon’s crucial qualifying.

A1 Team France got off to a flying start in the rookie session with Nicolas Prost topping the timesheets right at the end of the session. His time of 1-minute 50.679s was nearly half a second quicker than anyone else.

Great Britain’s Danny Watts was second quickest, ahead of Earl Bamber on his return for New Zealand. India’s Armaan Ebrahim was fourth, just beating home nation Malaysia, who had Aaron Lim behind the wheel to start the day.

“Chengdu was mostly about bumps rather than turns but this track is really amazing,” said Prost. “I was really looking forward to coming here because it's one of the nicest tracks in the world, and I think it was the first time we could get the real potential out the car, especially in the quick corners. Turns 5 and 6, the quick left and right, in particular were pretty good.”

In hot and humid conditions, Great Britain topped the timesheets in the afternoon’s official practice session. Watts’ time of 1m 50.038s set on his second flying lap couldn’t be bettered during the hour practice.

Due to a gearbox problem, A1 Team Switzerland didn’t make it out on track during this morning’s session, but the lack of track time didn’t hinder Neel Jani. Last season, Jani had the perfect weekend claiming both pole positions and converting them into wins, so it was no surprise that after doing only nine laps today, he clocked a time of 1m 50.110s, just 0.072 adrift of Watts.

A1 Team India’s Narain Karthikeyan’s time of 1m 50.187s in the final minutes of the session was, just 0.149s from pole while Loïc Duval took over the wheel of the French car to finish the day fourth-quickest.

“With the extra running I got this morning I was always going to be there or there about,” said Watts. “I think looking at the times, the top ten are very close and there's hardly anything in it. It will be the same story tomorrow so it will be very tight at the top.”

Home nation Malaysia ended the day tenth. Fairuz Fauzy said: “There is a bit of pressure, but it’s good pressure. The last lap was a good run. We managed to do a bit of work on the car, as at the beginning of the session I was struggling with grip, especially on low speed corners. I was struggling to get the front to turn in and I got massive under steer. I was a second off the pace to begin with but during the session we did change the car and the last lap was a good one – only six tenths off the fastest.

Danny Watts: “It felt good today and we’re working hard for tomorrow now. In the rookie session I always knew I would be there or there about and this afternoon I expected the others to catch up. Looking at the times towards the end, the top ten are very, very close – there’s hardly anything in it. I think it will be the same story tomorrow and it’s going to be very tight at the top. Driving this car on this track is really amazing, with the aero, downforce and the braking – braking into the last corner is unbelievable. It’s now my second weekend in the car and last week I was racing Porsche and GT cars at Macau, so it’s a bit of a change. But I have learnt how to adapt quickly to new cars and I think that is showing in the results.”

Saturday’s qualifying starts at 1415 local time (0615 GMT) with Sunday’s 25-minute Sprint race starting at 1100 local time (0300 GMT) and the 70-minute Feature race beginning at 1500 local time (0700 GMT).

Results

Pos

A1 Team Driver Time Gap Laps
1 Great Britain Danny Watts   1'50.038   0.000 13
2 Switzerland Neel Jani   1'50.110   0.072 9
3 India Narain Karthikeyan   1'50.187   0.149 14
4 France Loïc Duval   1'50.277   0.239 15
5 Netherlands Jeroen Bleekemolen   1'50.363   0.325 16
6 Portugal Filipe Albuquerque   1'50.404   0.366 20
7 Ireland Adam Carroll   1'50.559   0.521 16
8 New Zealand Earl Bamber   1'50.583   0.545 17
9 Monaco Clivio Piccione   1'50.618   0.580 21
10 Malaysia Fairuz Fauzy   1'50.620   0.582 22
11 Lebanon Daniel Morad   1'50.962   0.924 15
12 China Ho-Pin Tung   1'51.291   1.253 22
13 USA Marco Andretti   1'51.358   1.320 18
14 South Africa Adrian Zaugg   1'51.439   1.401 21
15 Brazil Felipe Guimarães   1'51.520   1.482 14
16 Australia John Martin   1'51.642   1.604 19
17 Mexico David Garza   1'51.775   1.737 19
18 Italy Edoardo Piscopo   1'51.954   1.916 14
19 Indonesia Satrio Hermanto   1'52.406   2.368 21
20 Korea Jin-Woo Hwang   0

Rookie Practice

Pos

A1 Team Driver Time Gap
1 France Nicolas Prost   1'50.679   -
2 Great Britain Danny Watts   1'51.096   0.417
3 New Zealand Earl Bamber   1'51.240   0.561
4 Malaysia Aaron Lim   1'51.815   1.136
5 Italy Stefano Coletti   1'51.839   1.160
6 Lebanon Daniel Morad   1'52.008   1.329
7 India Armaan Ebrahim   1'52.205   1.526
8 USA J.R. Hildebrand   1'52.325   1.646
9 Netherlands Dennis Retera   1'52.603   1.924
10 South Africa Gavin Cronje   1'52.747   2.068
11 Portugal Armando Parente   1'53.272   2.593
12 Australia Ashley Walsh   1'53.277   2.598
13 Ireland Niall Quinn   1'53.676   2.997
14 Brazil Felipe Guimarães   1'54.126   3.447
15 Korea Jin-Woo Hwang   1'54.499   3.820
16 Indonesia Zahir Ali   1'54.903   4.224
17 Switzerland Alexandre Imperatori -

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