Ireland Makes Solid Start in Malaysia Dublin, 21st Nov 2008; Two weeks after a superb performance in China netted them 2nd place in the championship standings, A1 Team Ireland began preparations for round three of the 2008/9 A1GP...
Ireland Makes Solid Start in Malaysia
Dublin, 21st Nov 2008; Two weeks after a superb performance in China netted them 2nd place in the championship standings, A1 Team Ireland began preparations for round three of the 2008/9 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport season at Sepang, Malaysia today where Adam Carroll and Niall Quinn completed a combined total of 23 laps of the fast and challenging 5.54km venue during practice.
Nominated race driver Adam Carroll ended the second session in seventh place after 16 solid laps during which he ran through a number of set up options ahead of Saturday's qualifying session and Sunday's Sprint and Feature races.
Earlier, Niall Quinn had got the Irish team's on track activities off to a good start with seventh fastest time in the first of two half hour rookie sessions. However, the Co Meath driver struck problems in the second session and failed to compete a lap.
A serious hydraulic leak necessitated the removal of the rear end of the car which took up the entire second half of the session and the Motorsport Ireland Young Racing Driver of the Year slipped down the timesheet as the track grip improved.
Carroll took over the Powered by Ferrari car for the second hour of practice, the Portadown racer making a number of alterations to set up during the session and he emerged with fastest time through the second sector of the lap.
"It's been a good start to the weekend and we're all confident that we've found the right direction on set up for tomorrow and Sunday," said Team Principal Mark Gallagher afterwards.
"While we're not fastest, we're not overly concerned because our lap times were improving all the time and the set up changes we made were all in the right direction.
"Niall drove well and had a good start in the first rookie session before a hydraulic problem intervened ahead of rookie two. The team solved the problem but it was time consuming and by the time it was sorted Niall's chances of making an improvement were gone".
Team Technical Director Gerry Hughes was satisfied with the team's start to the weekend.
"We made good progress throughout and Adam is happy with the way the car is handling so we have to be relatively content at this stage," he said.
"There is minimal grip from the tyres at this circuit which may be a factor of the heat and the fact that the circuit is still 'green' but it meant we have had to revise our expectations of the ultimate lap time.
"Still, we made some changes during the second session to the rear of the car which gave Adam more confidence and our sector times indicate that we are competitive with the leading runners.
"Niall's first session was very good and it was frustrating that a relatively small problem curtailed our running on a Friday. These are minor issues, but they cost valuable track time and we can only hope that that they remain a Friday problem."
Adam Carroll - Session 2, Position 7, 1m50.559s: "That was a pretty good session. Gerry came up with some very good solutions to improve the car's behaviour and I ended the session with a car that I feel I can really push in qualifying tomorrow.
"There's way less grip out there than we might have expected and it's odd to see how much everyone is struggling for ultimate performance. Getting the tyres to work is a real challenge but we'll keep focused on improving and hope to continue the good form we showed in Chengdu."
Niall Quinn - Session 1, Position 13, 1m53.676s: I enjoyed the first session which was my first time on the Sepang circuit and I was happy to have many more experienced 'race' drivers behind me.
The second half of the session was a write off, unfortunately but at least the team caught the problem early and could get it solved in time for Adam's run."
Tomorrow's programme begins with one hour of practice at 11am local time, 3am Irish time while qualifying gets under way at 2.15pm local, 6.15am Irish time.