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New Zealand takes pole in Brno

NEWS STORY
07/10/2006

A1 Team New Zealand has secured pole position for tomorrow's Sprint race at Brno in dominant style. Kiwi driver Jonny Reid (right) was fastest in all four qualifying segments to secure the first spot on the grid with an aggregate time 0.4secs faster than A1 Team Germany.

New Zealand set the early pace in the first three 15 minute sessions, but a flying lap by Nico Hülkenberg in the final segment looked set to hand the aggregate pole to the Germans. Reid however held his nerve to complete a flying lap just seconds before the chequered flag to seize the top spot, the team's first-ever A1GP pole position.

The pole came after the New Zealand car completed just five laps in the morning's free practice session. Reid commented, "We had picked up some rear suspension damage in Zandvoort last week and the rear wishbone seemed to give way today; luckily in practice, not qualifying! It must have been when we were fighting hard with Brazil on the last corner. It was a really intense run out there this afternoon - we were waiting and waiting from the start of the session but I knew that if I got within two tenths of my best time on that lap, we'd be pretty hard to beat. Everyone in the team did a great job and we're looking forward to tomorrow."

Rising star Hülkenberg, the winner of last week's Feature race, pushed Reid hard throughout the afternoon, but was ultimately denied by the New Zealander's last-gasp hot lap. Nineteen-year old Hülkenberg was disappointed not to secure the pole, but hopeful of improving tomorrow, "I was pushing but just not hard enough. It's now up to me for the races."

A1 Team Malaysia will start the Sprint race from third following Alex Yoong's flying lap at the end of qualifying. The ex-Formula 1 driver posted a time just 0.187secs slower than Reid in the last segment to jump ahead of A1 Teams Great Britain and China. Yoong was pleased with his team's progress over the weekend, "The last race was hard for me and we were struggling a bit yesterday too. There are new people on the team, but we are getting there. It's a great circuit and I enjoy the challenge; it's unique with so many medium speed corners but hardly any short or long so you have to drive with a different style - very different from Zandvoort."

A1 Teams Great Britain and China secured fourth and fifth spots on the grid respectively, with Canadian rookie James Hinchcliffe a surprise sixth. A1 Team Lebanon's Graham Rahal, son of American racing legend Bobby Rahal, was not able to repeat his earlier practice pace, which catapulted him to the top of the times. The Lebanese pilot will start the Sprint race from 13th on the grid.

Note: Team Great Britain's fastest time has been disallowed after post-qualifying scrutineering checks confirmed the British car contravened Article 3.4 of the A1GP Technical Regulations.

The Article states that the overall width of the car, including complete wheels, must not exceed 1930mm. The British car was found to be 4mm over the permitted limit.

The Stewards decided to disallow the team's fastest time set in the fourth segment of qualifying resulting in a new aggregate time of 3.32.787. As a result of this decision, A1 Team Great Britain will start tomorrow's Sprint Race from 10th on the grid.

To check out our Brno Saturday gallery, click here

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