Ireland Sets Pace in Friday Practice at Zhuhai
China - A1 Team Ireland took charge in the second of today's two free practice sessions at Zhuhai International Circuit as all 22 drivers experienced the Chinese circuit for the first time in an A1GP car, kicking off round four of the 2007/08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport season.
Twenty-five-year-old Irish rookie Adam Carroll, who finished fifth fastest in the morning session when the top 12 nations were separated by less than one second, clocked a best lap of 1m23.279s around the 4.3km circuit this afternoon in warm and sunny weather conditions.
Carroll, who is feeling a lot more comfortable in the emerald green car after extensive work on his seat, was encouraged by his team's start to the weekend and is aiming for a strong qualifying performance tomorrow afternoon:
'Obviously it was only practice but it was a good way to start the weekend. We got a pretty good lap on new rubber but I'm sure everyone's going to catch up tomorrow. I'm hoping we can carry the pace all the way through the weekend and get up the front and stay there. I've had some major issues with my seat and we've had to make seven so far. I find it quite hard to get comfortable in the car but now I can really concentrate on driving the car rather than being in pain so it should make a lot of difference.'
Canada's Robert Wickens, who secured the team's first podium finish of the season last time out in Malaysia, finished the day second fastest, half a second off the Irish car.
Having topped the time sheets in this morning's rookie session, defending champion Germany's Michael Ammermuller set the third fastest time of the day, closely followed by the Netherlands's Jeroen Bleekemolen in fourth position overall.
When asked what the secret is to achieve a quick lap around the Zhuhai circuit, Ammermuller said:
'It's quite difficult to make a lot of time up at the high speed corners, you just need to focus on late braking and getting on the power as early as possible on the exit to make sure you get a perfect lap. There are no big secrets at any of the corners. The track was getting quite dusty and dirty in the afternoon as some of the drivers spun off so the conditions were getting worse and that's why nobody was able to improve on the earlier times.'
Home nation A1 Team China's CongFu Cheng, who last drove at Zhuhai in 2002 in a Chinese Formula Renault race, is not eligible to take part in the rookie session and finished the day a strong fifth fastest.
The 23-year-old from Beijing said:
'We were obviously at a bit of a disadvantage not being able to do any running in the rookie session this morning, but we worked through the program this afternoon and it worked out ok. There is quite a lot of pressure as it's my home event and I haven't raced here for seven years so I'm pleased to be on the pace today, but I'm sure everybody will catch up by tomorrow.'
A1 Team France driver Loic Duval finished the day in sixth place, despite not taking part in the rookie session this morning and limited track time this afternoon due to spinning off half way through the hour.
Official Practice session 2 (14.00 - 15.00)