Ireland Makes Satisfactory Start in China Dublin - A1 Team Ireland made a satisfactory start to the second event in the 2008/9 season at Chengdu, China today where Niall Quinn and Adam Carroll worked through a busy programme on...
Ireland Makes Satisfactory Start in China
Dublin - A1 Team Ireland made a satisfactory start to the second event in the 2008/9 season at Chengdu, China today where Niall Quinn and Adam Carroll worked through a busy programme on the series' first acquaintance with the Sichuan Province venue.
Niall Quinn began the team's on track activities with two half hour sessions on the 3.367km Chengdu circuit, the Co. Meath driver completing 26 laps to establish baseline data from which the team could work from.
With grip very much at a premium on the extremely dusty and dirty track surface, Niall initially found that the car was too stiffly sprung for the conditions but following a change to softer springs for the second session the Motorsport Ireland Young Racing Driver of the Year was able to run more consistently.
Adam Carroll took over the driver's seat in the Powered by Ferrari car for the second hour of practice, the Portadown racer completing 24 laps despite a 20-minute delay caused by the need to replace a faulty radiator. After some swift work by the A1 Team Ireland crew, Adam was returned to the track in time for some extended five-lap runs at the end of the session during which he recorded ninth fastest time of the day with an identical time to Team USA driver Marco Andretti.
"It was a difficult if, on the whole, unspectacular day," said Team Principal Mark Gallagher afterwards. "The team did well to change the radiator and get Adam back out in time for some late laps in the session and set a useful baseline for tomorrow final practice and qualifying sessions.
"The track was so lacking in grip early on that what was most important was keeping the car off the walls and out of the gravel traps. We've got some good running and, while we've ended the day eight tenths of a second off the fastest time, we're confident that we know where we can make up most of that.
"Adam's session started well and he got some strong runs in at the end so we're confident we can carry the form of Zandvoort qualifying and Silverstone testing into the rest of the weekend.
"There was so little grip early on for Niall that it was tough to learn anything meaningful but towards the end, after the spring change, he started to make real progress. His last lap was his fastest and he made a very useful contribution.
Team Technical Director Gerry Hughes was frustrated with the interruption to the team's progress caused by the radiator failure but was satisfied with the way the team reacted to the problem.
"It was a day not entirely without incident but all in all we can be satisfied that we've got a reasonable amount of track time and have established a clear direction to progress for the rest of the weekend," he said.
"A water radiator developed a fault but the crew replaced it really quickly and Adam was able to get back out for some late runs by which time the tyres were past their best. While the time sheet doesn't look too impressive we're confident that, given the difficulties we had, we're still on target for a strong weekend."
Adam Carroll - Session 2, Position 9, 1m17.183s: "The track was very dirty and slippery and it was tough to pick a line and balance the car. Hopefully that will all become easier when the circuit rubbers in and gets some grip
"The circuit has lots of second and third gear corners and is actually quite difficult so it's going to be a challenging weekend. I don't think the balance of the car is too far away and it was important here to get as much track time as possible."
Niall Quinn - Session 1, Position 11, 1m18.486s: "The car was really stiff to begin with and just very hard to drive on a track that was incredibly dusty and slippery. There's very little run off at many of the corners so it was vital that I didn't go off and I was happy with the run I had in the second half of the session."
Tomorrow's programme begins with one hour of practice at 11am local time, 3am Irish time while qualifying gets under way at 2.15pm local, 6.15am Irish time.