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Zandvoort: Friday Quotes

NEWS STORY
29/09/2006

Team Brazil

The crowds poured through the gates and into the grandstands and open paddock as the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport began its 2006/07 season today at the Circuit Park Zandvoort, the Netherlands.

A1 Team Brasil was in action for today's practice sessions, with both of its weekend nominated drivers taking their turn in the car. Rookie Ruben Carrapatoso completed two separate 25-minute sessions, finishing an impressive sixth in the first segment. Tuka Rocha (right), who will be contesting the two races on Sunday, returned to the cockpit for the final one-hour session of the day, and completed his planned programme of acquainting himself with the legendary Dutch circuit.

The action will resume tomorrow morning with Tuka taking advantage of the final one-hour practice session before tackling the four-part qualifying session in the afternoon. As per last season, qualifying positions will be decided by combining the two fastest times of a possible four flying laps from each driver.

Unfortunately, Team Principal Emerson Fittipaldi has so far been unable to make it to Zandvoort due to a family illness, and Team Brasil would like to send its best wishes to the family.

Tuka Rocha: "I haven't been to Zandvoort before so today's practice session was all about learning the track. I really like the circuit here, it's very challenging and I think tomorrow will be very competitive. We had a few problems with the car, just little things that are new for this season, so those things need sorting out. To be tenth without pushing so much is not bad and towards the end of the session our splits were very similar to Canada, who was fastest, so I think tomorrow the times will reflect our level of performance more."

Ruben Carrapatoso: "It was okay for me in the rookie practice. I've driven here once before about five years ago, and I really enjoy the track, it's so fast. For half of the first session I was doing some work with the brakes which didn't involve going for times, but the rest of that session felt good. We made a lot of changes to the set-up in the break, which took quite a long time, and we only went out with less than ten minutes to go in the second session. I took it quite easy, just working on set-up and keeping the tyres safe. I didn't want to lose a set of tyres by pushing very hard and I wanted to be able to give some good feedback to the engineers which would help the team. I'm glad I was able to be a part of this first weekend and now I will be supporting Tuka from the pitwall."

Team Canada

A1 Team Canada set the benchmark in practice today ahead of Round 1 of the 2006-07 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport on Sunday, 1st October, as Toronto's James Hinchcliffe (19) belied his rookie status to lead the field of 23 nations with a fastest lap of 1m28.994s around the 4.18km Circuit Park Zandvoort.

Making his race debut for A1 Team Canada this weekend, following two promising tests behind the wheel of the 550bhp V8-powered A1GP car, James was immediately a front-runner in the rookie session which preceded official practice. Fifth fastest over the course of two twenty-five minute runs, James' form was merely an indication of what was to come as he took to the track for official practice later in the day.

The Canadian, who tasted victory in Portland earlier this year on his way to a 10th place finish in the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Championship driving for Forsythe Racing, made the most of a fresh set of Cooper tires to post the only sub-1m29s lap of the session on just his fourth lap out of the pits. His benchmark time of 1m28.994s stood throughout the hour long practice run and while former Indy Racing League driver, A1 Team Great Britain's Darren Manning, came close he couldn't beat the Toronto teenager's debut time.

James Hinchcliffe: "The team did a phenomenal job today, they gave me a great race car and I'm just excited to be here racing for A1 Team Canada for the first time. Zandvoort's an awesome track and the number of fans here today for a Friday practice session is just incredible! I'm still learning little nuisances with the car and the track's still new to me but to get a car capable of going fastest on my competitive debut is a great testament to the team."

A1 Team Canada Consultant, 1964 Formula One World Champion, John Surtees: "It's a tremendous boost for James to set the fastest Friday time on his very first A1GP race weekend. The whole A1 Team Canada crew did a fantastic job and it bodes well heading into qualifying."


Team France

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