Portimao: Series qualifying report

Liuzzi Claims Italy's First Pole Position in Portugal Algarve, Portugal -- Round Six of the 2008/09 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport continued this afternoon with Vitantonio Liuzzi claiming Italy's first ever A1GP pole position for tomorrow's ...

Liuzzi Claims Italy's First Pole Position in Portugal

Algarve, Portugal -- Round Six of the 2008/09 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport continued this afternoon with Vitantonio Liuzzi claiming Italy's first ever A1GP pole position for tomorrow's Vodafone A1GP Algarve, Portugal Sprint race. Robert Doornbos took his first pole position for A1 Team Netherlands in Feature race qualifying.

With the title battle heating up the pressure is mounting on the top title contenders, but only a few minutes into the first qualifying segment the red flag was out as China's Ho-Pin Tung spun and got stuck out on track. As the clock continued to tick down the green flags were waved but, with only a couple of minutes remaining, seven teams did not have time to record a lap. These included the two championship rivals, Switzerland and Ireland. The second qualifying segment began but Switzerland were in even more trouble as the engine died and left Jani stranded out on track, unable to set a time and bringing out a second red flag. As the teams lined up at the end of the pit lane, there was drama for Brazil's Felipe Guimaraes who struggled to get his car going, so hampering a number of teams exiting the pits as he got his car going again.

Despite both segments of Sprint race qualifying being interrupted by red flags, Liuzzi timed his run to perfection. Making full use of the one PowerBoost lap available to him he claimed pole position for A1 Team Italy on his A1GP debut with a time of 1-minute 30.875-seconds. The Netherlands kept its practice form together in qualifying with Robert Doornbos second on the grid for the Sprint, while A1 Team Ireland's Adam Carroll kept his championship hopes alive by making up for a problematic day yesterday to start third.

In Feature race qualifying the field had its first full 10-minute run without any interruptions and Doornbos was straight on the pace to post the provisional pole position time. The Swiss mechanics worked frantically to get Jani back out on track for the final qualifying segment of the day, with the championship leader, the Netherlands, Ireland and Portugal, having PowerBoost available for their final runs of the day.

Doornbos went one grid position better in Feature qualifying to claim his first pole position of the series with a 1-minute 30.415-second lap, and is determined to take a win on his final outing for the team this season.

Irelandwill line up alongside him on the front row after another good performance from Adam Carroll, while South Africa's Adrian Zaugg scored the team's best qualifying result of the season to start fourth.

Not one to falter under pressure, Jani put in a great lap to take third for the Feature race. After a disastrous Sprint race qualifying, the Swiss driver could be in a vulnerable position as both the Netherlands and Ireland look extremely strong heading into tomorrow's races when the excitement in Portugal looks set to continue.

Italy's Vitantonio Liuzzi said: "We got a bit warm after the red flag because the time was passing by in the first qualifying session. After we saw the green flag, we were just trying to get the right spot and it worked out really well I think."

"It was an exciting day," said the Netherlands' Robert Doornbos. "In the Sprint qualifying we were aiming for the P1 spot. We were P1 and I thought that was quite easy because I didn't use PowerBoost, but then we heard that Antonio (Liuzzi) was on PowerBoost. I thought he would pass me but still second was a good result. Then we went all out for the Feature race, because that is a race the Netherlands hasn't won yet this season so is the target for this weekend. I wanted to be sure that I would get a lap in so I kept asking my engineer if there was traffic. He said no but then Lebanon came out into turn one, and we touched wheels. I passed him on the outside, and I was four tenths off in the first sector so I was shouting on the radio, but my engineer did a good job in calming me down and I tried to finish the lap. The car has been really good and I still managed to put in a good time and it was the longest ten seconds of my life waiting in the pit lane for Adam (Carroll) to finish but luckily we held onto pole."

Ireland's Adam Carroll said: "We decided not to finish the lap (in Q1) as there was just so much traffic in front so we just decided to save the tyres. It's not always nice when you don't get a lap in but that's the way it goes, you just forget about it and move onto the next one.

"I don't actually know what goes on during qualifying. I don't really watch it as I'm concentrating on what I'm doing, but we will have to beat everybody to win this championship. It's going to be a tough race tomorrow and it should be good for everybody to watch."

Portugal's Filipe Albuquerque who will start fifth and seventh for his home event tomorrow commented: "We were pretty strong yesterday and this morning but basically on the new tyres we were not fast enough. In Feature qualifying I was on the limit and made a small mistake and then the tyres were dirty for the rest of the lap."

-credit: a1gp

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Series A1GP
Drivers Robert Doornbos , Adam Carroll , Vitantonio Liuzzi , Ho-Pin Tung , Adrian Zaugg , Filipe Albuquerque , Felipe Guimaraes