GBR On Top in Mexico City Mexico -- A1 Team Great Britain topped the time sheets in the second of today's two free practice sessions in Mexico City, as the eighth round of the 2007/08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport got underway at the ...
GBR On Top in Mexico City
Mexico -- A1 Team Great Britain topped the time sheets in the second of today's two free practice sessions in Mexico City, as the eighth round of the 2007/08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport got underway at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in warm and sunny weather conditions.
Great Britain's Oliver Jarvis, who took the British team's first A1GP victory at the Mexican circuit last year, was the man to beat this afternoon, clocking a 1m21.431s lap of the 4.08km circuit. Having set the pace early on in the hour, Jarvis improved on his lap time with 15 minutes of the session remaining, reclaiming the top spot and demoting current title leader Swizterland's Neel Jani to second.
The Swiss car was closely followed by Ireland's Adam Carroll in third, ending a strong day for the Irish squad, rookie Niall Quinn having posted the second fastest time this morning. Jeroen Bleekemolen was fourth quickest in the Dutch car this afternoon while South Africa's Adrian Zaugg finished the day fifth overall.
GBR's position was momentarily under threat by a late charge from New Zealand's Jonny Reid, however the Kiwi's time was deleted as he cut the tight chicane leading into the Peraltada corner, moving him down the order to sixth overall. Reid was not alone, many drivers committed the same offence throughout both practice sessions, causing their lap to be ruined and their time deleted.
This afternoon's session was incredibly close, with the top 14 drivers separated by just over a second. The track is renowned for its bumpy surface and turn four seemed to cause the most problems for the drivers today, many commenting on the bumps and rough surface making handling difficult.
GBR's Oliver Jarvis was delighted with his team's performance and is targeting a repeat performance of last year's Feature race win:
'I'm very happy to be back here in Mexico, where I got my first win last year. I'm slightly disappointed that it's not the same circuit layout -- I can understand the chicane being put in to slow you down but turn four is a bit of a disappointment to drive with the bad surface. It's still a very good track though and the surface will get better as the weekend goes on and more rubber gets laid down giving us more grip. I'm delighted to be at the top of the times. We're very close to Switzerland but that's to be expected, Neel Jani's having a great time at the moment - his confidence is very high and they've got the car sorted and I think it's going to be very close come qualifying tomorrow.'
Mexico's David Martinez set the fifth fastest time this morning while team-mate David Garza finished 19th overall this afternoon. Garza was disappointed but remains optimistic ahead of qualifying tomorrow:
'We struggled a lot with the car and the problems are really hurting us. It's really easy to lock the brakes and we're on the rev limiter in sixth gear the whole way down the long straight. That along with the altitude here is really a big problem for us. I hope the car for tomorrow will be better and I'll be working hard on the set up of the car tonight to try and make something work.'
A1 Team Italy led the way in the opening free practice session this morning, with A1GP new boy Davide Rigon making an instant impression, lapping the circuit nearly three tenths quicker than anyone else. Niall Quinn was second quickest for Ireland, which was his best showing in the three rookie sessions he has competed in this season. South Africa's Wesleigh Orr was third fastest ahead of French rookie Nicolas Prost.
This morning's session was the first time the A1GP drivers experienced the revised layout of the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, with the shorter version proving about three seconds quicker than last season's layout.
In addition to adding a chicane just before the final high-speed Peraltada corner to aid overtaking and improve safety, three corners will also be missed out in the middle of the course to keep the lap time and race lengths at roughly the same distance as last year's, using one of the alternate layouts of the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. Turn four has now become a left-hand turn instead of a right-hander and the track rejoins the original course at turn nine, making the circuit length 4.08km, instead of the 4.42km it was last season.