California, USA -- A1 Team Mexico snatched its first pole position in the closing minutes of qualifying today, unsettling Series' leaders France, out to claim the World Championship title this weekend. Lapierre's job will now be slightly tougher...
California, USA -- A1 Team Mexico snatched its first pole position in the closing minutes of qualifying today, unsettling Series' leaders France, out to claim the World Championship title this weekend. Lapierre's job will now be slightly tougher tomorrow despite his team's only rival A1 Team Switzerland, who had its second segment time disallowed for failure to comply with weighing procedures, sitting sixteenth on the grid.
While the battle for first is now a two horse race, competition is heating up for third place. Contenders A1 Team Malaysia, put in its best qualifying session ever, taking fourth place on the grid, behind A1 Team New Zealand, another possible for third place. Great Britain, Netherlands and Brazil, lying sixth, twelfth and nineteenth respectively, will also be putting the pressure on Malaysia as they fight for crucial, championship deciding points.
With Graham Rahal behind the wheel, A1 Team Lebanon also achieved its best ever qualifying results. On a track that boasts a straight named after his father, Rahal secured eleventh place on the grid, putting the team in a strong position to score its first ever points.
First time pole sitter Salvador Duran said: 'It has been great so far, everything went right. We have good competition from France, but I think we have a car to win, we have been fast in qualifying and we can be fast in the race. We have the car now, and we have the team, I think we have the best team in the Series now.'
Salvador is not intimidated by the more experienced drivers lining up behind him on the gird. 'It is very difficult to pass here, but I am racing with experienced drivers and it is easy to race with them. I hope to get into the turn one first, I'm confident that these guys have a lot of experience and I respect them. But I think I can be as quick as them.'
Asked if he was surprised to lose pole position in the last session, second place man Nicolas Lapierre said: 'Not really. My last lap was not that good. I made a mistake in the last corner which cost us pole. But we are here to win the championship, and we qualified in front of Switzerland which is the main thing. But I am disappointed to lose pole after leading in the first three sessions. As a driver, of course I want to win every race I take part in, so it will be a compromise between winning the race and getting the points to win the championship.'
Speaking about his qualifying session, Matt Halliday, third on the grid for A1 Team New Zealand said: 'The track is difficult in places, there is a bit of water on the kerbs but we have a good package and a good starting set up. We are looking for a good result tomorrow.'
Asked if having raced at the circuit in 2001 in the Indy Lights competition was an advantage, Matt commented: 'It is more important to have a good set up than know the circuit. We are a team here on our own, if we get lost on set up, we can't share data with another team.'