Hinchcliffe Takes Fourth on the Grid for Chinese A1GP Sprint Saturday November 11, 2006 - A1 Team Canada's James Hinchcliffe was fourth fastest in a limited Saturday practice session in China Saturday ahead of Round 3 of the 2006-07 A1GP World...
Hinchcliffe Takes Fourth on the Grid for Chinese A1GP Sprint
Saturday November 11, 2006 - A1 Team Canada's James Hinchcliffe was fourth fastest in a limited Saturday practice session in China Saturday ahead of Round 3 of the 2006-07 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport in Beijing. Saturday's practice and qualifying sessions were disrupted due to on-going issues with the brand new street circuit. The grid for Sunday's opening Sprint race was finally determined by practice times with Hinchcliffe securing a welcomed second-row grid slot on the tight Jingkai track.
Modifications had been made overnight to the original configuration, chiefly the removal of the hairpin bend at Turn 8, which had caused the initial problems in Friday's aborted running. The hairpin bend proved to be too tight for the 850 bhp A1GP cars to freely negotiate. As a result, track officials have shortened the length of the main straight, removing the troublesome bend and replacing it with a wider 48.5 meters hairpin turn. A lengthened official practice session was meant as a precursor to qualifying but as the session developed further issues were raised and as a result, on-track activity for the day was postponed after 25 minutes of the proposed 90-minute session.
The cancellation of all four qualifying sessions forced the series officials to set the grid for Sunday's Sprint race by the fastest lap times set in Saturday's practice session. A1 Teams should be given an extra session on track before the Sprint race.
"It was an interesting session," Hinchcliffe (19) commented. "My first impression of the track is that it's obviously bumpy - in fact it's the second bumpiest track I've ever driven on and you really have to define your line by where the bumps aren't! It's tight and there's not a lot of room for passing but everyone's in the same boat. Fourth is okay but I was hoping to be in the top three."
Hinchcliffe, a native of Toronto, completed a total of 15 laps in practice, his fastest tour around the modified circuit a 1 minute 01.103 second placing him fourth fastest from the 22-car field, as the session was red flagged. Jeroen Bleekemolen of Team Netherlands posted the quickest time in the practice session lapping the track in 1:00.093, nearly half a second better than Salvador Duran of Mexico. The second row will be filled by Italian driver Enrico Toccacelo and Canadian James Hinchcliffe.
Sunday's scheduled Sprint race starts at 11 am local time (10 pm EST Saturday) with the Feature race starting at 3 pm in Beijing (2 am EST Sunday).