Ireland Dominate Taupo Qualifying Taupo, New Zealand -- A1 Team Ireland's Adam Carroll dominated qualifying to put the Celtic Tiger on pole position for both of tomorrow's races in Taupo, New Zealand. Carroll initially took control of Sprint...
Ireland Dominate Taupo Qualifying
Taupo, New Zealand -- A1 Team Ireland's Adam Carroll dominated qualifying to put the Celtic Tiger on pole position for both of tomorrow's races in Taupo, New Zealand.
Carroll initially took control of Sprint race qualifying, posting a time of 1 minute 15.197 seconds round the 2.06-mile circuit.
With so many incidents interrupting every session so far this weekend and no PowerBoost being available in qualifying for this event, the pressure was on for the drivers not to make any mistakes in each of their four flying laps this afternoon. In the blistering heat, China and Australia were first to emerge on track but it wasn't until the final moments of the first qualifying segment that the real action began with Switzerland's Neel Jani posting the quickest time of 1m 15.202s, only to be beaten by Ireland a few seconds later by 0.005-seconds.
Ireland then never looked like being beaten with Carroll going quicker with a 1m 14.507s in the final seconds. The Netherlands and Portugal both made improvements in the second qualifying segment to put Robert Doornbos alongside Carroll on the front row, and Portugal's Filipe Albuquerque in third for tomorrow's standing start Sprint race. Local favourite, New Zealand's Chris van der Drift, made a big improvement posting a 1m 15.457s to put him sixth on the grid, 1.684-seconds faster than his earlier effort.
Perhaps not suprisingly the top three also qualified in the same positions for the Feature race. As the chequered flag came out only six cars had recorded a time making it an exciting final minute in the first segment of Feature race qualifying. Ireland powered across the line to go quickest with a 1m 14.589 with Portugal second and Australia's John Martin putting in a great drive to move Jackeroo up to third.
Carroll went even quicker in the final segment to post a 1m 14.411-second lap, the fastest time an A1GP car has ever lapped Taupo Motorsports Park. The Netherlands and Portugal once again found more time in the dying seconds to replicate the top three starting positions from the Sprint race.
After running off the track in the first Feature qualfying segment, USA's Marco Andretti resisted the pressure and made up for his mistake by posting a 1m 15.527s, good enough for eigth. New Zealand improved again in the final segmant of the day putting Black Beauty tenth on the grid for tomorrow's Feature race, but with some ground to make up in front of the cheering home fans. Lebanon's Daniel Morad also put in a good performance to record two top ten starts for tomorrow.
Double pole-sitter, Ireland's Adam Carroll, commented: "I got four good clean laps in and we were quick. It was a good run. I put the new tyres on but you don't really know what the grip levels are going to be or where you are going to be. You have just got to push hard and hope you are going to be at the front and put a nice tidy lap in at the end. It is a tricky circuit to put in a nice quick lap with no mistakes.
"The circuit just doesn't have much grip so when you try hard you can have a spin or run wide, things like that. That is what practice is for, you push hard just to find where everything is. When it comes to the new tyres you just have to be smooth -- you have still got to push a hundred per cent but you have got to put it all together."
The Netherland's Robert Doornbos said: "We have been working on finding a decent set up we are happy with. We had some minor problems with brake failure yesterday but this morning we had a good programme. We wanted to see the car on new tyres to get a good idea for qualifying. This practice went well so I had a good feeling for qualifying. In the sessions I pushed as I really wanted a TW Steel watch -- now look at Adam as he has two and is showing off! I have to get a watch tomorrow..
"It is great to be back with A1 Team Netherlands and to get them a good result. I have promised our seat holder Jan Lammers, who is not here, to put the car on the podium like in China so we are going in a good way."
New Zealand's Chris van der Drift said: "It could have gone a lot better for sure, and it was difficult in the first run as I lost out when Adrian Zaugg went off, I think in turn four. I was right behind him so I came to the end of that run, and I had to take the second set of tyres for the second run. It sort of went like that. In Q4 I couldn't put it all together, ran wide in turn five and that sort of mucked up my lap there.
"Okay the races are long tomorrow and I think it is about being consistent and staying on the track as offline it is very slippery.
"It is about being consistent and stable throughout the races. We have got a standing start in the Sprint race and a pit stop too, so that will juggle things up and it should be an exciting race."
In a change to normal proceedings both of tomorrow's races will begin with a standing start.
"A standing start is always tricky as these cars are quite difficult to get off the line and I haven't really done a good start yet," said Carroll, "so I have just got to concentrate on doing that tomorrow to get off the line and into turn one first, but I wouldn't have minded a rolling start at all."