Brno: Friday practice report

Brno -- The second round of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport got underway today at the 5.41km Brno circuit, Czech Republic, with two 25-minute rookie sessions and the first of two official free practice hours. Twenty-three countries took to the...

Brno -- The second round of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport got underway today at the 5.41km Brno circuit, Czech Republic, with two 25-minute rookie sessions and the first of two official free practice hours.

Twenty-three countries took to the fast, flowing track through the Moravian forests in the south east of the country, but it was A1 Team Germany who shone on the opening day of competition. Nineteen-year old Nico Hulkenberg recorded the third-fastest time in the rookie practices, completing nine laps over the two sessions. The young German from the town of Emmerich, close to the Belgian border, stepped up a gear in the later practice hour as he set a scintillating time of 1:46.600 on only his second lap. Despite strong pressure from A1 Teams Switzerland and France, Hulkenberg's early rapid pace was not bettered and he finished the session on top, nearly one second faster than Swiss Sebastien Buemi.

Hulkenberg commented, "I didn't think that my lap was good, but then when I saw the time! It depends on the weather of course, but if it stays dry we could go even faster tomorrow."

A1 Team France once again demonstrated the pace that won them the 2005/06 championship title as rookie Loic Duval posted the fastest time in the rookie sessions and Nicolas Lapierre the third fastest in practice. Duval was pleased with his result, "Fortunately I know the track quite well as I competed in some races here a couple of years ago - it's a great circuit and I like it a lot," added the Frenchman, "We found a good set-up, so I hope that the weekend will end better than it ultimately did in the Netherlands."

Team principal Jean-Paul Driot confirmed his team would be aiming for a better result than last week's race, in which Lapierre retired 11 laps from the finish following a mechanical failure. "We had some bad luck in Zandvoort, which was disappointing, but the car is fast here as I think we have found a good set-up. We should be competitive and could be at the top end of the field if everything goes OK."

The Czech fans were not left disappointed however as lead driver Tomas Enge, the only Czech driver to have driven a Formula 1 car, secured the fourth fastest time in the practice session. "I'm really happy to be here for my home crowd," Enge commented, "It was a shame I couldn't have driven the car in Zandvoort, but I don't think that will be a disadvantage here. We have to find a set-up with a lot of downforce and grip for the car to go well into the medium-speed corners. The team fitted a new set of Cooper tyres for the last run and Janis did a great job earlier in the rookie sessions to prepare the car so, for the moment, we're happy with the progress we're making."

The racing action resumes tomorrow with a further free practice session and four 15 minute qualifying segments that will determine the grid for Sunday's Sprint race. The 70-minute Feature race grid will be decided using a unique points-scoring system where drivers are awarded points according to their qualifying and finish positions and fastest laps in the Sprint race.

-credit: a1gp

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Series A1GP
Drivers Nicolas Lapierre , Loic Duval , Sébastien Buemi , Nico Hulkenberg