Zandvoort: Team New Zealand qualifying report

BLACK BEAUTY ON FRONT ROW AT ZANDVOORT New Zealand will start from second place for the season opening round of the A1GP after an outstanding debut qualifying effort from driver Earl Bamber. Host nation The Netherlands won Pole Position...

BLACK BEAUTY ON FRONT ROW AT ZANDVOORT

New Zealand will start from second place for the season opening round of the A1GP after an outstanding debut qualifying effort from driver Earl Bamber.

Host nation The Netherlands won Pole Position and will start alongside New Zealand after a strong performance from the start of the weekend.

Bamber set New Zealand's time of 1.24.529 mid way through the one hour qualifying session, but in the closing moments it appeared his time may be challenged. However a late charge from Team Ireland was not enough, and he managed to hold on to his front row place by just three one-hundreds of a second.

Steering Black Beauty in his first race weekend for A1 Team New Zealand, Bamber will line up for tomorrow's races against some considerably more experienced drivers. The new 'Powered by Ferrari' A1GP racer's 600 horsepower is something Bamber has adapted well to, given some of his rivals have raced all year long in GP2 and other powerful 'formula' classes.

Qualifying was run in dry conditions after a wet start to the weekend in the first of the two practise sessions. The Wanganui teen survived a minor 'half spin' at the start of the morning's second practise session. Despite not damaging his car, he lost valuable dry laps on the challenging Zandvoort circuit compared with his rivals.

A total of fifteen cars took to the track for qualifying, however an additional two cars are in the final stages of being built and are expected to line up on the grid for Sunday's racing.

Qualifying times in the new cars were three seconds faster around Zandvoort than the previous A1GP car.

With the introduction of the new 'Powered by Ferrari' A1GP cars being later than originally planned, the qualifying format for Zandvoort is slightly different from what will be used for the remainder of the A1GP season. Instead of the normal four sessions of fifteen minutes, a single one hour session with an unlimited number of laps was available to the teams. The result of Sunday's first Sprint Race will determine the grid positions for the afternoon's Feature Race.

The compulsory pit stop has also been dropped from the Sprint Race to allow teams more time to fettle their cars, however the two compulsory Feature Race pitstops will remain.

Heavy rain is expected for Sunday's racing, so teams will have an added challenge in their race debut of the new A1GP car.

Earl Bamber, Driver

"The result's a bit of a surprise, but I'm absolutely stoked"

"We lost a lot of time in dry practise after my small spin, and only got three laps in"

"I ran old tyres for a long time in qualifying to look after tyres, then we bolted on two new sets later to do the time"

"A1GP's a big step up from what I've been racing in the past"

Colin Giltrap, A1 Team.NZL Seat Holder

"What an unbelievable result for the team!"

"I was a bit worried for a while but Earl slowly built up to it"

[Earl was] "cool calm and collected, I'm very impressed"

John Sears, Team Manager

"We're very pleased and maybe even slightly surprised with the team's qualifying result"

-credit: new zealand

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Series A1GP
Drivers Earl Bamber