Dubai - A1 Team Switzerland has taken pole position for tomorrow's Sprint race at the Dubai Autodrome which threatens to end France's eight race dominance on the top of the podium. After securing pole for the Sprint race at the A1 Grand Prix of Nations, Malaysia but just missing out on a win after a 15-lap battle with France, driver Neel Jani is keen to turn things around this weekend. 'We finally got the car as we wanted today and I didn't make any mistakes. We got it all together for qualifying. However, I was on pole in Malaysia but it didn't work out so I'll have to wait and see how it works out in the race tomorrow.' Asked if he thought he could win the sprint race tomorrow, Jani said 'I hope I'm able to give myself a birthday present but for sure it will be very difficult,' he said.
The result came as Switzerland put in the fastest lap time of the session in the fourth segment (1.45.926) after an exciting start to the afternoon's track action. The Mexican car left the track and crashed heavily just minutes into the first segment causing a red flag which meant only A1 Teams USA, India, Australia and Lebanon finished their flying lap. The bad luck continued into segment two for France who failed to record a flying lap time after brake problems saw them go wide and leave the track. However with the skill and determination shown over the season to date, France fought back securing second place on the grid. A1 Team France driver, Nicolas Lapierre said: 'It was very difficult today. The first session was red flagged and we had problems with the brakes in the second after the drive shaft broke this morning. Then we had to put in two safe laps in qualifying segments three and four. It wasn't a great time, but at least we are starting on the first row. I'm quite happy, but I have to make no mistakes tomorrow and there will be a lot of pressure. I'm a little disappointed really, as we could have been faster.'
The close times seen in the morning's official practice sessions continued into the afternoon with A1 Team Ireland taking third place on the grid with a lead of just one hundredth of a second on A1 Team Brazil. A1 Team Ireland driver, Ralph Firman said: 'We've had a good couple of days and have progressed well. I was very disappointed with the first session, as we weren't able to go out. We are near the front for the sprint race at least. The first session was very slippery, but by the end it was fine. Hopefully we will be quick in the race tomorrow.'
A1 Grand Prix reached another milestone today when its 3.4 litre V8 power unit notched up 100,000 mile without a single engine failure. It was A1 Team South Africa's Stephen Simpson who broke through the 100,000 barrier in this morning's third official practice session.
The Sprint race will be contested over 50 miles lasting up to 30 minutes in duration. With a rolling start at 13.30 local time, tomorrow's race will be run over 15 laps of the 5.39km Dubai Autodrome. The outcome of the race determines the grid position for the Feature race which will start at 15.00 local time with a standing start. The Feature race will be run over 100 miles (30 laps) lasting up to 60 minutes in duration.
Due to a breach of technical regulations A1 Team Brazil was excluded from today's official practice session.