Eastern Creek: Series qualifying report

France and New Zealand on Pole at Eastern Creek Australia -- A1 Team France put in a superb performance to qualify in pole position for tomorrow morning's Sprint race at the A1GP Sydney, Australia while the Feature race will be led off the grid...

France and New Zealand on Pole at Eastern Creek

Australia -- A1 Team France put in a superb performance to qualify in pole position for tomorrow morning's Sprint race at the A1GP Sydney, Australia while the Feature race will be led off the grid by championship leader New Zealand.

Sprint race qualifying

Loic Duval continued to impress the packed grandstands at Eastern Creek, clocking the fastest lap during the first 15-minute qualifying segment to take pole position for A1 Team France for tomorrow morning's Sprint race.

Switzerland's Neel Jani, who has been struggling with grip levels and tyre wear this weekend, returned to his usual fine form to set the second quickest time during Q2 and line the Swiss car up alongside Duval on the front row.

South Africa's Adrian Zaugg qualified in third position while current championship leader New Zealand's Jonny Reid will start the race from fourth place on row two. China's Congfu Cheng and USA's Jonathan Summerton will line up on the third row of the grid in fifth and sixth place respectively.

Feature race qualifying

Having completed qualifying for the Sprint race in cloudy and humid conditions, the drivers were greeted by sunshine and blue skies when they took to the track for Feature race qualifying five minutes later.

New Zealand's Jonny Reid put in a sensational performance to snatch pole position for the Feature race from title rival Switzerland's Neel Jani by 12 thousandths of a second. Reid was one of the first drivers on track in Q4 and set a time that claimed the first Feature Race pole of his A1GP career and his fourth pole position overall.

After failing to set a time in the first qualifying segment due to being held up by the Lebanese car spinning off at turn four, Great Britain's Robbie Kerr, who is without his race engineer this weekend, made a good recovery to qualify in third position for the Feature race. GBR race engineer James Goodfield suffered a broken leg on Friday night when he was hit by a tyre gun hose that became disconnected when the Portuguese crew in the next door garage were practicing their pit stops.

A1 Team China's Congfu Cheng, who is having a great weekend, will line up in fourth place on the second row. A year on from the team's first podium finish at Eastern Creek, China enjoyed one of its most competitive qualifying sessions to date, topping the time sheets in the third qualifying segment.

Sprint race pole-sitter France's Loic Duval took the fifth spot ahead of South Africa's Adrian Zaugg who will start from sixth.

After the end of the qualifying session, Canada's Robert Wickens had his best overall time removed as a penalty for failing to comply with blue flags. His actions resulted in him holding up Brazil's Sergio Jimenez who was on his Q3 flying lap. Canada will start the Feature race from the last row in 21st position.

Home nation A1 Team Australia's John Martin will start the Sprint race from ninth, the nation's best qualifying performance so far this season and first top ten start on home soil. Martin will start the Feature race from 14th.

After an encouraging start to the weekend, Lebanon will start both races from the back of the grid. Chris Alajajian ran wide and spun into the tyre wall on his out lap during the first qualifying segment and there was no time to repair the extensive damage sustained before the end of the session.

Season one champion France's Loic Duval, who has been on sensational form all weekend in what might be his last A1GP event this season, will start tomorrow's Sprint race from pole and the Feature race from fifth:

'The top step of the podium is our target. This is maybe my last weekend in A1GP so I would like to leave the series with a win. We are in the best position for the Sprint race which makes it easier for the start. I think we are quite competitive and we are always fighting from the front. If we can get a good start tomorrow morning it's going to be difficult for the other drivers to attack us.'

New Zealand's Jonny Reid, who is starting tomorrow's Feature race from pole position for the first time, said:

'We struggled to get a gap in qualifying one for the Sprint race and after that we changed our game plan and made sure we got clean, clear runs. The car's great and I'm extremely satisfied we've taken pole position. I was only able to qualify second here last year but this year we're on pole and I'm really pleased. Qualifying is one thing and racing is another but the car feels good and I'm confident with the team and I'm sure we can put in a strong performance tomorrow.'

Switzerland's Neel Jani, who will start the Sprint and Feature races from second on the grid, commented on his incredible return to form after a tough start to the weekend:

'Basically I was on average one and a half seconds slower than the guys next to me on every lap. We tried everything, we changed everything on the car and the mechanics had a long night session to see what the problem could be. The last thing we changed for qualifying was the tyres and my first lap on new tyres was two and a half seconds quicker than I ever was on the circuit so far. It was a shock to me in those first laps to feel that grip and how different the car was. In the end we still missed pole but we were close so it was a big change for me.'

-credit: a1gp.com

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About this article
Series A1GP
Drivers Robbie Kerr , Neel Jani , Robert Wickens , Adrian Zaugg , Loic Duval , Chris Alajajian , Jonny Reid , Congfu Cheng , John Martin , Sergio Jimenez