IMPROVED QUALIFYING POSITIONS FOR A1 TEAM MALAYSIA A1 Team Malaysia made their final preparations for tomorrow's two races in Taupo today, the fifth round of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport. The bright sunshine and high temperatures of opening...
IMPROVED QUALIFYING POSITIONS FOR A1 TEAM MALAYSIA
A1 Team Malaysia made their final preparations for tomorrow's two races in Taupo today, the fifth round of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport. The bright sunshine and high temperatures of opening day practice yesterday were replaced with strong winds and cooler temperatures that added to the excitement of qualifying for the large crowds attending this New Zealand event. A 9th place start for the Sprint race and 14th place for the main Feature race was the outcome of the qualifying session for A1 Team Malaysia this afternoon.
The morning practice was the Malaysian team's final hour of running ahead of the afternoon practice. The track demands high precision driving with the narrow band of asphalt edged by dusty runoffs and driver Alex Yoong used the session to fine-tune the car setup to cope with the 13 turns of this 3.5km circuit and perfect his racing lines for qualifying. The team worked on a programme of set up changes in their quest for optimising the car performance and had improved lap times over the course of the session. Finishing 16th after an hour, the team then began final preparations for qualifying.
The afternoon qualifying is split in to four segments with the best of two flying laps in the first two setting the grid for the Sprint race and the best of two flying laps from the second two determining their position for the main Feature race.
In the first segment Yoong posted 14th fastest time, and with an improvement on the second flying lap, he grabbed a top ten spot, lining up in ninth for the Sprint race.
The final two segments saw the majority of the field stay in their garages until late in the session, waiting for other cars to take to the circuit ahead of them and clean up a very dusty track. Malaysia was one of these teams, but as with all the others ran the risk of a busy track, and in the event this was one of the challenges faced by the team. After a difficult two laps Yoong finished with 14th fastest lap overall to line up in this position for the Feature race.
Yoong said after qualifying, "I'm disappointed that we didn't have two top ten starts. Our ninth for the Sprint race was okay and was on old tyres, so I thought we'd be on for another strong grid slot, but we just caught traffic and it compromised our laps each time. It is very tricky out on track, with the strong wind and a very dusty track, which makes it very slippery. We are certainly now in a good position for two points finishes tomorrow, but a podium is a taller challenge, especially at this track, which is nearly impossible to pass on. There could be quite a few cars falling foul of the conditions, so if we can keep it clean we should be able to benefit."
Jack Cunningham, Chief Executive, A1 Team Malaysia, adds, "With the top fifteen cars separated by only a second or so, we've two better start positions than at the last round, so we are now moving in the right direction. This track offers little opportunity to pass; however we're strong on race strategy and will look to use this to our advantage in the two races tomorrow. Our aim has to be points finishes and that is certainly an achievable goal for both races tomorrow."
The climax of the weekend tomorrow will feature the 20-minutes Sprint race that will start at 11.00am local time. The later 70-minutes Feature race includes two mandatory tyre-change pit stops that add to the excitement of the A1GP Series.