NZL LIMITED IN QUALIFYING AT ALGARVE Qualifying proved to be an up-and-down affair for A1 Team New Zealand at the Algarve circuit in Portugal for Round Six of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport. Ultimately an accidental activation of Black...
NZL LIMITED IN QUALIFYING AT ALGARVE
Qualifying proved to be an up-and-down affair for A1 Team New Zealand at the Algarve circuit in Portugal for Round Six of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport.
Ultimately an accidental activation of Black Beauty's pit-lane speed limiter cost New Zealand a strong result in Qualifying for the Feature Race, after a solid start in Sprint Race Qualifying.
With four sessions of ten minutes duration to determine the grid for the Sprint and Feature Races, New Zealand looked to be well placed early on. The first two sessions which produce the grid for the Sprint Race were marred by red flags stopping the sessions mid way through. The result was a nail-biting run to the chequered flag, which saw New Zealand well placed in sixth position for the Sprint Race grid, and fourth of the cars that did not use their PowerBoost lap.
China was the first to bring out the red after a spin on their out lap in Q1. A1GP rules are such that the ten minute countdown continues to run in Qualifying even if the session is stopped by a red flag. By the time the Chinese car was cleared, there was just two minutes remaining on the clock in Q1.
New Zealand managed to start their flying lap with just a few seconds remaining, while seven cars did not get around the undulating circuit in time to even start a Qualifying lap. The net result was second place in the first session, with more expected from all teams in Q2.
The red flag came out again in Q2, this time after the championship leading Swiss car stopped on the circuit, causing the Swiss to miss setting a time in the Sprint Race Qualifying altogether.
Again with a massive queue of cars leaving the pit-lane, Earl Bamber put in a solid lap under pressure to record the sixth fastest lap time. Only two cars in front of Bamber including pole-sitter A1 Team Italy used their PowerBoost lap, leaving a showdown ahead in the Feature Race Qualifying sessions.
New Zealand's lap time recorded in Sprint Race Qualifying was 1.32.006, 1.131 seconds off the pole-position time set by Italy.
With drivers seeming to settle down for the Feature Race Qualifying, New Zealand made a couple of minor adjustments that improved Black Beauty further. In Q3, Bamber put in a time good enough for fourth place, with sixteen cars including New Zealand electing to keep their PowerBoost lap for the final Q4 session.
Having missed the first three Qualifying sessions, the Swiss car was now back on track, running early in Q4 to set a time good enough for third place on the Feature Race grid.
However disaster struck New Zealand early on its timed lap in Q4. Turning into the first corner of the lap, Bamber accidentally bumped the pit lane speed limiter button on his steering wheel, restricting Black Beauty to a speed of just 60km/h for a short while and costing vital seconds until the limiter was turned off.
With the speed limiter issue, New Zealand's lap time in Q4, which included the full lap PowerBoost ended up being 0.5 seconds slower than the time set in Q3. This put New Zealand a lowly eleventh on the grid for the Feature Race, a disappointing result considering the pace the team showed early in Qualifying. Australia will line up alongside New Zealand on the sixth row of the grid.
The Netherlands will start from Pole Position in the Feature Race, with Ireland alongside on the front row.
Highlights of Qualifying can be seen on TV3 at 3.40pm on Sunday, while coverage of both the Sprint and Feature Races starts on Monday morning at 12.55am.
Earl Bamber, Driver
"The guys have done a really great job with the setup on the car. We should have a fantastic race car."
"It was really annoying to bump the button that activates the pit lane limiter! I have to cross my arms to turn through the hairpin and must have caught the button with one of my gloves."
John Sears, Team Manager
"We had pace to be in the top four for sure, and should really have been fighting for Pole in the Feature Race."
-credit: new zealand