PROMISING START FOR NEW-LOOK ARDEN DUO
Arden International begins its 2011 season this weekend, with the opening rounds of the GP2 Asia Series at the Yas Marina circuit, Abu Dhabi. The team got off to a flying start this morning, when Czech recruit Josef Kral set the pace in free practice, and the 20-year-old backed this up by qualifying an in-touch eighth for the feature race.
Team-mate Jolyon Palmer will line up 18th, but this is a very closely matched field and the young Englishman outpaced several more experienced rivals. Palmer has graduated to GP2 after finishing second in last year's FIA F2 Championship and this is his first race weekend at this level.
"This morning's practice session went well -- the car felt perfect as soon as I hit the track. We clearly did a good job during the recent test days, because we were well prepared for this weekend. In qualifying, though, I just wasn't able to put a really good lap together because I became caught in traffic. That was the biggest problem, but the main thing is that the car felt good. Hopefully I'll be in strong in the race, but no one knows what might happen because we haven't previously raced on these tyres. We did some long-distance simulations during the test, though, which gave us some ideas, so I hope things will be all right. I need to make a good start tomorrow, move forward and score some points -- that's the goal."
"Practice was difficult this morning. The track has changed since we tested so I had to find my feet again. It wasn't the end of the world to be 14th, but I hoped to build on that during qualifying. Things didn't go as well as I'd expected, though, because I was struggling with the brakes and couldn't conjure a good lap. We'll now work hard to improve the car for the race and hopefully move forward from there."