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South Africa takes pole at Zandvoort

NEWS STORY
30/09/2006

A1 Team South Africa has secured pole position for the Sprint race at the opening round of the 2006/07 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport at Zandvoort, just 0.1 seconds faster than A1 Teams Mexico and France. Under blue skies and blazing sunshine, South African Adrian Zaugg recorded the best aggregate over four thrilling 15 minute qualifying sessions in which Mexico, the USA and South Africa all traded fastest times.

Nineteen-year-old Zaugg snatched pole position from Mexican Salvador Duran in the final session of the afternoon when he blitzed round the 4.18km Zandvoort circuit in a blistering 1:27.349secs. Zaugg, who participated in yesterday's rookie practice sessions, was thrilled to put his home country back in the sporting spotlight, "I am just so happy for the team and everyone supporting us at home in South Africa. I never expected to do so well and it's emotional for both me and the team. I'm pleased to see A1 Team South Africa on pole for tomorrow and happy to have achieved this much so far." The young Capetonian is clearly relishing his opportunity to lead the field, "I've never done a rolling start before, but it's similar to starts behind the safety car so I know what to expect and know that I'll cope with it."

A1 Team Mexico's Salvador Duran set the early pace with the fastest time in the first session of the day and continued to perform consistently throughout the afternoon, also setting the second fastest time of the final 15 minutes. However the Mexican was ultimately denied by Zaugg's lightning pace in the final minutes of qualifying. "I am delighted with this result," Duran commented. "We have a strong team in place, with a good set of people, who want Mexico to lead the way. I know that we can go quicker and we need to keep pushing and work hard, to keep in front tomorrow."

In a hint of the high level of competition expected in this year's championship, A1 Team France's Nicolas Lapierre was just 0.05 seconds slower than Duran. Lapierre, who was quickest during the morning's practice session, was pleased with his afternoon's performance, "It was definitely a good qualifying session. I really felt the pressure because the track was getting faster and faster. It's a great start for the team and puts us in a good position for tomorrow."

A1GP newcomers Singapore and Greece continued their steady improvement in qualifying. Respective drivers Christian Murchison and Takis Kaitazis shaved almost two seconds from their previous best lap times over the four sessions and will start the Sprint race in 20th and 21st positions. A1 Team Greece's last flying lap was however interrupted when he was forced to lift off to avoid A1 Team Pakistan's Nur Ali who had spun into the middle of the track.

Local hero Jeroen Bleekemolen participated in his first-ever qualifying session in front of the thousands of passionate Dutch fans who had flocked to the circuit on the shores of the North Sea to see their national racing team in action. Bleekemolen recorded the second-fastest time in the second segment and will start the Sprint race in ninth position.

To check out our Zandvoort Saturday gallery, click here

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