Robbie Kerr made history for Team Great Britain in today's A1 Grand Prix series qualifying at Brands Hatch, as the young Briton took the first pole position for a home team in the history of the series. Kerr set a fast aggregate time of 2:28.899...
Robbie Kerr made history for Team Great Britain in today's A1 Grand Prix series qualifying at Brands Hatch, as the young Briton took the first pole position for a home team in the history of the series.
Kerr set a fast aggregate time of 2:28.899 around the classic circuit in the southeast of England, 0.129 seconds faster than the team's closest challenger, Team Germany.
"It's a third of the job done today," Kerr said. "We have got to focus now on getting the car ready for the two long races. We now have a good car beneath us, and it's looking after the tyres very well. We are looking forward to it and now we can be competitive here."
The first qualifying segment was marred by a lengthy stoppage after Team USA's Jonathan Summerton crashed heavily at the Hawthorn Bend, stopping the session. The teams did get a chance at a single flying lap at the end of the segment, but only France (Loic Duval) and German (Nico Hulkenberg) were able to squeak under the 1:15 mark, making the last three segments all the more critical.
And it was Kerr's performance in the third segment, with a time of 1:14.381 that made all the difference.
Hulkenberg brought Germany to the brink of a pole position, with a time of 1:14.430 in the final segment, but Great Britain was running close behind. The home crowd was on the edge as Kerr toured the runoff on his "out" lap, getting his tires dirty, but there was no denying glory to the British outfit as Kerr held the hot lap together, stopping the clock only 88 thousandths behind Germany.
"I thought I would try something new to get the tyres warm!" the pole-winner joked. "It was a heart-stopping moment, but we pulled it all back together. Got the tyres cleaned off as best we could for the start of the lap, and then just went out there and put a good solid lap together."
As it was, Hulkenberg and Germany had to settle for second on the grid, having trailed the British by 0.213 seconds in the critical third segment.
"The car was all right," the 19-year-old pilot rued his run. "I was just a bit too optimistic and too early on the power. I went on the kerb and the kerb pulls you out, so that was a mistake."
Duval took third for Team France, 0.356 seconds off the pace, with Team Italy's Enrico Toccacelo claiming fourth place after setting time in the 1:14.7s in both the second and third segments.
"It is not an easy track to learn, but unfortunately I think the car was not perfect today,' Duval recounted. "We had quite a big oversteer and didn't find the problem. At the end I knew it was important to push on the last qualifying lap. I was pushing, but maybe too much and had big oversteer."
India (Narain Karthikeyan), Malaysia (Alex Yoong), Switzerland (Sebastien Buemi) and Netherlands (Jeroen Bleekemolen) took the remaining top-eight positions on the grid.
The Sprint race, the penultimate race of the season, will start at 11 AM local time; the race results will, in turn, determine the starting grid for the afternoon's Feature race.