Tuka Rocha and Xandi Negrão were in action today at the Brno circuit in the Czech Republic for the opening practice sessions of this weekend's second round of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport.
Xandi Negrão had his first taste of A1GP when he participated in the rookie practice session today, which comprised two segments of 25 minutes. The 20-year-old spent the first segment familiarising himself with the car and doing some basic brake work. In the second segment, Xandi put in a good lap, and looked set to record some further strong lap times. Unfortunately he was not able to complete his programme and demonstrate this as, ten minutes before the end of the session, a running mistake from the team meant that Xandi had to stop out on track, missing the remainder of the practice.
For this afternoon's one-hour second practice session Tuka Rocha, A1 Team Brasil's race driver for the weekend, returned to the cockpit. He elected to run the session on old tyres, and preserve his new sets for the all-important qualifying session tomorrow. Tuka undertook general development work on the car as well as completing some successful pitstop practice with the team.
Tuka will drive in the final one-hour practice session tomorrow morning, before heading out for the afternoon's qualifying.
Tuka Rocha: "I think things are going to plan for us. We ran the whole session on old tyres and I think we set as good times as possible with them. I'm not sure yet of the potential when we put new tyres on because nearly three seconds is a big gap to the fastest guy today, but in Zandvoort there was a difference of two to three seconds on the new tyres, so I think it will make a big difference. We will be running the same kind of programme tomorrow morning and saving the tyres for qualifying. Also today we did some pitstop practices during the session which went extremely well and the team did a fantastic job."
Xandi Negrão: "I enjoyed myself today. It was my first time in the A1 car and my first time on this track so I started out just by learning the circuit and getting used to car. I struggled a bit on my first outing because I was still learning the corners but, after a few laps, I started to push a bit more. Unfortunately I couldn't finish the session because there was a problem with the car but I'm happy to do what I did. I hope that I helped a little bit and I can't wait to come back and join the team again soon."
A1 Team Canada had a subdued start to Round 2 of the 2006-07 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, hosted at the Auto Motodrom, Bruno in the Czech Republic, 6th-8th October, as Vancouver's Sean McIntosh (21) and Toronto's James Hinchcliffe (19) both spent time behind the wheel of A1 Team Canada's entry in Friday practice.
Making his A1GP return, having led the Canadian team to victory in his last start in Indonesia (Round 8) in the inaugural season of the nation versus nation series, Sean McIntosh's run in the hour-long practice session yielded little in terms of outright pace but allowed the World Series by Renault front-runner the opportunity to dial back into the 550bhp V8-powered A1GP car.
James Hinchcliffe was left a little frustrated with his outing in the earlier rookie session. The Champ Car Atlantic Championship race winner, who made his competitive debut for A1 Team Canada in last weekend's opening round in Holland, placing 8th and 13th respectively in the Sprint and Feature races, reveled in the sweeping layout of the 14 turn, 5.41km Brno circuit but didn't quite find a workable set-up to propel the Canadian entry further up the running order before handing over to McIntosh.
Sean McIntosh: "We set our fastest lap time pretty late in the session. Friday's one of those days where you have the chance to see where you're at and go from there. We've got some things to work on, I haven't been here before where as some of the other drivers have and they set their quick times on new tires earlier in the session than I was able to. We just need to get our heads down and work on improving things on the car for tomorrow."
James Hinchcliffe: "It was a bit of a disappointing session it's safe to say. Obviously we weren't quite up to speed and there were a few issues with the car. When you go out right away and the car's not there it's really hard to find the time in the session. I'm hoping Sean will be able to be more competitive in the second run to move the team on ahead of tomorrow's qualifying. I really like the track here at Brno unfortunately it just wasn't suiting us in that session."
On the technical 5.41-km Brno circuit, A1 Team France set the third fastest time in practice today ahead of Round 2 of the 2006/2007 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport on Sunday. Having already raced on this track in the F3 Euroseries in 2004, the 22-year-old French driver, Nicolas Lapierre, from Thonon-les-Bains, worked steadily on the car's balance and set-up. He completed 22 laps with a fastest lap of 1.47.552.
In the "Rookie Session", Loic Duval, driver of the FFSA French Team, was able to put in consistent times, finishing 1st overall at the end of Official Practice 1, setting a lap of 1.47.893. During this opening session of the weekend, his main tasks were to carry out standard checks and analyse the levels of performance and handling of the car. Preparations for qualifying and the races will continue on Saturday.