Durban: Jonathan Summerton Saturday notes

DURBAN, South Africa-The hot Durban sun made sure the night's rain didn't play a factor in Friday's practice sessions for the eighth race of the A1GP season. However, the tight confines of the Durban Street Circuit which leave little margin for ...

DURBAN, South Africa-The hot Durban sun made sure the night's rain didn't play a factor in Friday's practice sessions for the eighth race of the A1GP season. However, the tight confines of the Durban Street Circuit which leave little margin for error made a marked impact as the day was punctuated by red flags.

A1 TEAM USA's new feature driver, Jonathan Summerton, finished the first part of the rookie session in 4th place with a 1:21.557, despite an incident in which the car bottomed hard over a series of bumps and took off both the front wing end-plates. In the second portion of the rookie practice, Summerton was denied a top 3 result after a red flag forced him to abandon his flying lap. 7th place was the eventual result on 1:21.097.

Several cars again found the wall in Practice 2, bringing out a number of red flags.

Summerton continued to work through mechanical and aerodynamic changes, without putting so much as a scratch on the car. The afternoon session was cut short, though, when a small section of track kerbing at turn 7 began to break up. The organizers repairing the area as a result, TEAM USA ended in 15th place during the second practice session with a 1:20.288.

"The track is pretty slick and bumpier than I expected," said Summerton. "The Rookie session went well. It was a pity about the red flag that cost me my best time. I think missing the red flags might be a key for qualifying. The team has made me very comfortable in the car for my first race weekend, and I'm happy I can drive a race distance with no problems on Sunday. Overall it was a very productive day. We got through a lot of changes. I'm looking forward to qualifying tomorrow."

"Motor racing is mostly a game of patience", comments A1 TEAM USA Owner Rick Weidinger. "With Jonathan, our perspective is that every lap in the We The People car is additional seat time that we can continue to improve upon until we revisit the podium. Long term gains take patience."

A1 TEAM USA Quicker At Every Turn,Improving Steadily through Qualifying, Resulting in Twelfth Place for Sprint

After yet another red-flag-filled day, A1 TEAM USA again emerged unscathed and geared up for what promises to be a thrilling race in the streets of Durban on Sunday.

TEAM USA progressed through a tremendous number of changes throughout the day--once again scanning the aerodynamic and mechanical landscape, looking for the sweet spot of the We The People car. In the morning's practice session, Driver Jonathan Summerton worked diligently through the changes, posting great times in Sectors 1, 2, and 3, but never putting all three sectors together for a blinding lap. At the end of the session, TEAM USA was in 13th place.

"Clearly Jonathan was at the very top of the charts in each individual sector of the street circuit. His only challenge now is to put all the sectors together in one great lap", said A1 TEAM USA owner Rick Weidinger following P3.

For the qualifying session, TEAM USA went early in Q1 to be sure of a clear track and jumped strongly to the top of the time sheets. Summerton sat in P1 for a while, but started to slide as the later runners attacked, eventually finishing P11.

The second qualifying segment was run on used tires, yielding less grip, and making a fast time more difficult. Summerton, however, pushed hard throughout the segment, setting a 1:18.779-5th fastest of Q2. Following a 1:18.646 in Q3, TEAM USA sat 8th overall on combined times and after the team made final setup adjustments for the all-important Q4, Summerton delivered with his best lap of 1:18.542 for P9 in the final segment. This put TEAM USA in the 12th spot in the qualifying round.

"This morning's session was productive. We had some problems, tested a few things, and got it all worked out in the end," said Summerton. "As far as qualifying, I was happy that I improved in every segment. It was hard to adjust to the one single lap qualifying. You always feel like you left a little on the table. I think we have a good car for the race tomorrow. There are plenty of chances to pass around here, and I'm really looking forward to it."

"This was Jonathan's first qualifying session in the We The People car. Securing 12th place on the grid for the sprint race is an good start," said Weidinger. "We will go to work tomorrow with the major objective of moving up the grid, and securing championship points. Last year in Durban, only nine cars finished the Feature Race. Our focus on Sunday will be to race smart and finish first."

-credit: js

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Series A1GP
Drivers Jonathan Summerton , Rick Weidinger