WATTS ON THE FRONT ROW FOR A1 TEAM GBR IN MALAYSIA Sepang, Malaysia, Saturday 22 November 2008 -- A1 Team Great Britain will begin tomorrow's Feature race in Sepang, Malaysia from the front row for round three of the 2008/09 A1GP World Cup of ...
WATTS ON THE FRONT ROW FOR A1 TEAM GBR IN MALAYSIA
Sepang, Malaysia, Saturday 22 November 2008 -- A1 Team Great Britain will begin tomorrow's Feature race in Sepang, Malaysia from the front row for round three of the 2008/09 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport.
A brand new element to A1GP qualifying proved to be the deciding factor today in Sepang, Malaysia, as teams fought it out for grid places for tomorrow's Sprint and Feature races for round three of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport. A1 Team Great Britain's Danny Watts put in another fantastic performance, setting himself up for a front row start in the Feature race by setting the second quickest lap. He will begin from the third row in the Sprint race.
Ahead of this weekend's qualifying, organisers announced a new twist to proceedings, designed to add an extra strategical ingredient to qualifying. Each team now has the ability to use their PowerBoost button for one entire lap of their four qualifying segments, which adds 60bhp to the new A1GP Powered by Ferrari cars. It is up to the teams to decide which of the laps to use the extra power on, with the first two used for Sprint qualifying and the second two to determine the Feature race grid.
As it turned out, GBR saved its PowerBoost for Feature qualifying, while four of the top five teams in Sprint race qualifying opted to use theirs in the second segment, giving them around a two second advantage to a lap. Danny set his quickest lap time of 1:49.076 in the second of the two sessions, which was the sixth fastest time overall, putting him on the third row of the grid for the Sprint race. However, the team takes confidence from the fact that GBR was the second fastest car minus the PowerBoost in the session.
In a thrilling qualifying session for the Feature race, Danny set a fastest lap of 1:47.340 in the second segment as he hit the track on fresh rubber and with his PowerBoost facility in action. Despite feeling like he did not complete a clean lap, Danny powered across the line to take the second fastest time, just two tenths of a second behind Ireland, who will be in pole position for the Feature.
Danny Watts: "It was a good session and we have proved we have the pace. My lap in the Sprint race qualifying felt really good so I was a bit disappointed to be sixth, although at that point I didn't know who had used the PowerBoost. My Feature qualifying lap was not very good at all and in fact I apologized to the team as I crossed the line for a poor effort. To find I was second was great -- I think the PowerBoost bailed me out on the straights! We should have been a lot quicker though and that gives me confidence. Tomorrow is going to be a big day and that's where it all matters. We have the pace and we're focused now on race day."
Katie Clements, Team Principal: "It's been a pretty exciting afternoon and this new PowerBoost rule has really shaken up the grid. I am very pleased with the team's performance and the pace that we have shown. Tomorrow is going to be a hard day for Danny and the other drivers dealing with this extreme heat and humidity in a very long race. I am very hopeful based on today's showing that we can secure some strong results."
A1GP Round 3 Sprint Race Qualifying
1. Switzerland 1:47.154
2. France +0.593
3. New Zealand +0.625
6. Great Britain +1.922
A1GP Round 3 Feature Race Qualifying
1. Ireland 1:47.124
2. Great Britain +0.216
3. Lebanon +0.521
Sunday's 25-minute Sprint race will start at 1100 local time (0300 GMT) with the 70-minute Feature race beginning at 1500 local time (0700 GMT). Sky Sports will broadcast all the live action from Sepang, Malaysia from 0530 on Sunday 23 November (Sky Sports 1).