Taupo: Team Switzerland Friday notes

Two fastest times for Switzerland in New Zealand Convincing performance by recovered Neel Jani and rookie Alex Imperatori For Team Switzerland, the A1GP race weekend at the other side of the world has got off to a good start. Neel Jani seems...

Two fastest times for Switzerland in New Zealand

Convincing performance by recovered Neel Jani and rookie Alex Imperatori

For Team Switzerland, the A1GP race weekend at the other side of the world has got off to a good start. Neel Jani seems to have beaten the virus infection that had put him almost out of contention for one week. This became clearly visible by his fastest time in first practice of the World Cup of Motorsport at Taupo in New Zealand.

Jani's performance is all the more remarkable, as he had to abort his efforts in the one hour session on Friday after only 14 laps because the gearbox didn't work as it should. "We don't think it is a major problem", said team principal Max Welti. "We stopped running after 25 minutes in order to avoid a costly gearbox failure."

Although most other drivers had more than twice as much time to practice, Neel Jani's lap time remained unbeaten. "We will see on Saturday what this 1:15.971 is worth", said Welti. "Possibly, some teams have been sandbagging a little bit." Jani himself doesn't consider his lap time as his maximum either: "I think that there are at least two seconds to be found": Jani's record from last year (1:14.679) is likely to be beaten, not in the least because of the new, considerably faster cars, the "A1GP powered by Ferrari".

Neel Jani is optimistic concerning his health condition. "Halfway through last week, I still thought that it would be impossible for me to race in New Zealand. I had 40 degrees of fever, had balance problems and difficulties with my eyesight and with breathing. Still on Monday, I could only sit or stand up for an hour. Since I arrived in New Zealand, I am feeling better day after day, probably also thanks to the warm weather", the 25-year old from Berne said.

In case Jani shouldn't have recovered in time, the Swiss team would have had an apt replacement driver, Alexandre Imperatori. The soon-to-be 22-year old from Fribourg once more proved his skills by setting the fastest time in the rookie practice session on Friday morning. "Alex has done a good job here, too", said Max Welti. "He looked focussed and coped well with the pressure we had put on him deliberately. His job of not damaging the car and still be as quick as possible is by no means easy."

-credit: switzerland

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Series A1GP
Drivers Neel Jani , Max Welti , Alexandre Imperatori