Portugal Sets Pace in Shanghai Shanghai, China -- A1 Team Portugal's Filipe Albuquerque was on superb form today, topping the time sheets in both of the official free practice sessions in Shanghai, as the penultimate round of the 2007/08 A1GP ...
Portugal Sets Pace in Shanghai
Shanghai, China -- A1 Team Portugal's Filipe Albuquerque was on superb form today, topping the time sheets in both of the official free practice sessions in Shanghai, as the penultimate round of the 2007/08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport got underway at the Shanghai International Circuit in cool and cloudy conditions.
Twenty-two year old Albuquerque, who scored an impressive first podium finish on his A1GP debut in Durban seven weeks ago, was the man to beat this afternoon, setting a time of 1m35.223s around the 4.6km Chinese circuit. Having set the pace early on in this morning's rookie driver and developing nations session, Portugal's Albuquerque improved on his lap time by over a second this afternoon, again in the opening minutes of the session, and held the top spot for the remainder of the hour.
The Portuguese car was closely followed by New Zealand's Jonny Reid, who won the Shanghai Feature race last year and has his sights firmly set on a repeat performance on Sunday. Filip Salaquarda, who represented his nation in Shanghai last year, was third quickest in the Czech car this afternoon while current title leader Switzerland's Neel Jani finished fourth fastest overall, just ahead of Germany's Michael Ammermuller in fifth.
Franck Montagny was impressive on his A1GP debut for France, clocking the fourth fastest time on only his second run in the French car and ending the afternoon seventh overall behind GBR's Robbie Kerr, admitted it had been a long time since he had driven a car like this and he just needed a bit more time to get used to it as he described it as 'quite nervous'.
Home nation China's Congfu (Franky) Cheng, who is not eligible to take part in the rookie sessions, finished the day ninth fastest behind USA's Jonathan Summerton.
The times have been close today, with just over a second separating the top 12 this afternoon, setting the scene for a tremendous qualifying session at the Shanghai International Circuit tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon.
Portuguese rookie Filipe Albuquerque, who was the man to beat today, is aiming for his first A1GP pole position tomorrow:
'It's always good to do as many laps as possible because I'm a rookie in this car. I'm still learning the skills to drive it and put it all together perfectly and the more laps I do the better I get. The pace of the car is getting good, especially with the new tyres and I think we are in the running for the pole. I would prefer it for sure, but it's not going to be as easy as it looks. I'm still working on the car but I'm not happy with the speed and I need a lot more. We will see but definitely we are on the front run to get to the pole.'
China's Congfu Cheng, who finished the day ninth overall, reflected on the first day of action in Shanghai and looked ahead to qualifying tomorrow:
'It's a pity that I didn't take part in the rookie session this morning because I would have had more laps to get used to the set up of the car and the new tyres and get more familiar with the circuit. I raced here last year though and I will be able to give more information to my team tonight and during practice tomorrow morning. The qualifying session tomorrow will be very competitive and I'm sure we will be able to improve on today.'