Alex Yoong puts Malaysia team on pole
Mexico City, Mexico – A1 Team Malaysia has taken its first Sprint race pole of the 2006/07 season showing the rookies who topped the morning practice session that experience pays when the pressure is on. Germany’s Christian Vietoris, competing in his first full race weekend qualified alongside Malaysia’s Alex Yoong on the front row of the grid, continuing the nation’s charge for the championship title.
After fixing the electronic failure that saw Malaysia retire early from the third practice session, Alex Yoong recorded the fastest lap in three of the four qualifying segments. He commented: ‘The car was very good. We struggled a little bit in the morning, but I think it is important that we didn’t panic. We thought it was the tires with them going off a little bit more than we expected but the car was very strong for qualifying.’
Talking about his race prospects, Yoong went on to say: ‘I am confident that tomorrow will be good. We did have concerns we were using the tires too hard yesterday and this morning, we know what the problem is and we will fix it and the car will be fine tomorrow.’
For Germany’s Vietoris, who is stepping in while regular driver Nico Hülkenberg fulfils prior commitments elsewhere, the weekend has been a steep learning curve. ‘I have to work hard the whole weekend on the car and I have learn a lot now. Friday was a good day as we worked a lot on the car and I am happy with how the weekend has gone. We made some changes between sessions two and three and for qualifying four it was the best car,’ he said.
Fellow rookie, Oliver Jarvis put in a strong performance for A1 Team Great Britain, sitting on the second row of the grid after his first ever A1GP qualifying session. Jarvis drove for the British team in Beijing but, with qualifying cancelled, today presented his first opportunity to show the speed of his flying laps. ‘We have a very strong car here. We have stepped up and up and we will see what happens tomorrow,’ he commented.
Jarvis continued: ‘I think it is probably the most difficult track we go to. In sections two and three you have consecutive corners going into each other. You are probably going to see a few guys making mistakes as the race goes on. It is also going to make it very difficult to be consistent with the bumps. However, we have a consistent car and I hope we can come through and get a good result.’
Host nation Mexico, will start the Sprint race from fourth on the grid after a consistent performance saw Salvador Duran in the top five fastest laps in all of the last thee segments. Duran commented: ‘The car is very good and the team have done a great job but I am still working for tomorrow to be better. I think we have the car to finish in the top three in the Feature race and I think it will depend on the weather. I feel very good, I feel I can go for it. This is my home town so I have to race with my heart. I hope I can do.’
For A1 Team New Zealand, a disappointing qualifying session has placed Jonny Reid 14th on the grid, the first time this season that Black Beauty has not been seen on the front two rows. Being one of only two teams that can challenge Germany’s title hopes, the unexpected grid position will force the team to take another look at the car’s set up in order to deliver a strong performance in tomorrow’s two races.
A1 Teams Brazil and USA’s failure to clock a time in one of the three sessions did not hinder their progress with both teams qualifying in the top ten, despite spins in segments one and four respectively. Pakistan’s spin in the third segment caused the only red flag of the session but the car was quickly re-started and segment resumed in time for all other teams to get on track for their flying lap.
Tomorrow’s Sprint race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez will start at 11.00 local time and will determine the grid positions for the afternoon’s 70-minute Feature race.
A1 Team Driver Aggregate time Gap first
1 Malaysia Alex Yoong 2.53.138
2 Germany Christian Vietoris 2.53.983 +0.845
3 Great Britain Oliver Jarvis 2.54.271 +1.133
4 Mexico Salvador Duran 2.54.705 +1.567
5 France Jean Karl Vernay 2.54.820 +1.682
6 Portugal Alvaro Parente 2.54.865 +1.727
7 Brazil Bruno Junqueira 2.54.904 +1.766
8 USA Jonathan Summerton 2.54.918 +1.780
9 Australia Ian Dyk 2.54.935 +1.797
10 Italy Enrico Toccacelo 2.55.056 +1.918
11 South Africa Adrian Zaugg 2.55.071 +1.933
12 China Ho Pin Tung 2.55.170 +2.032
13 Indonesia Ananda Mikola 2.55.223 +2.085
14 New Zealand Jonny Reid 2.55.358 +2.220
15 Czech Republic Janis Jarek 2.55.538 +2.400
16 Netherlands Renger van der Zande 2.55.710 +2.572
17 India Narain Karthikeyan 2.55.949 +2.811
18 Switzerland Marcel Fassler 2.56.002 +2.864
19 Canada James Hinchcliffe 2.56.120 +2.982
20 Ireland Richard Lyons 2.57.300 +4.162
21 Lebanon Allam Khodair 2.58.575 +5.437
22 Pakistan Nur Ali 3.00.239 +7.101