Robbie Kerr put the pedal to the metal today at the Sentul circuit to score the first pole position for Team Great Britain in the inaugural season of the A1 Grand Prix series. "This was a great result," Kerr said. "I'm looking forward to ...
Robbie Kerr put the pedal to the metal today at the Sentul circuit to score the first pole position for Team Great Britain in the inaugural season of the A1 Grand Prix series.
"This was a great result," Kerr said. "I'm looking forward to tomorrow, I have a great opportunity. It's not easy though, it is a fast circuit and we will have to see what happens."
It's the first pole for Great Britain, which is in fourth place in the series standings at 58 points, just under half Team France's points total of 119. France has also taken three of the eight poles so far, with Brazil and Switzerland the only other teams to take the top qualifying spot prior to today.
And it was team strategy that won the day for the British team: only Great Britain and France chose to put on used tires for the first qualifying session, giving them fresh rubber for the critical second and third sessions.
"I started on old tires to learn a bit more about the circuit," Kerr explained. "Then we had two new sets of tires for the rest of qualifying which was fantastic. We made a slight change for the third session which was fantastic and again for the fourth session, even though it was damp."
Kerr improved steadily in each session -- except the fourth, which saw light rain dampening the circuit, and posted a time of 1:16.927 in the third session, to set an aggregate time of 2:34.257, a comfortable two tenths ahead of Alexandre Premat of Team France.
Premat spun off in the first session, and was a tenth quicker than Kerr in the second, but in the third session, driving cautiously to ensure a competitive aggregate time, a lap time of 1:17.261 was only third quickest, behind Great Britain and Mexico, and his chance of beating Kerr washed away with the raindrops in the final session.
"I could have easily have hit the wall, but some days are good and today I managed to miss it," Premat recounted. "So from then I needed to put in a few safe laps. We were going to go out on wet tires in the final session, but we saw Robbie out on dry tires, and there is good data to be learnt from experimenting with the tires."
Mexico, then, was third, Salvador Duran's aggregate time of 2:34.554 less than a tenth behind Premat, and the team will start from the second row alongside usual front-runner Neel Jani (Team Switzerland).
Sportscar specialist Hayanari Shimoda scored the best qualifying result for Team Japan so far this season, with a fifth place, just under a second adrift. Ex-F1 pilot Alex Yoong will start for Team Malaysia alongside Shimoda.
Ralph Firman (Ireland), Sean McIntosh (Canada), Stephen Simpson (South Africa) and Matt Halliday (New Zealand) fill out the top ten on the grid. Hometown hero Anand Mikola will have his work cut out for him tomorrow, though, as he will start from 17th, some 2.4 seconds behind Kerr's time.
Other notables were former F1 drivers Tomas Enge (Czech Republic) and Jos Verstappen (Netherlands) in 12th and 13th. F1/CART star Christian Fittipaldi, taking his first start in the A1GP series, and the first in an open-wheel race car since 2002, will start in 21st after spending the day familiarizing himself with the car.