Bruno Junqueira will line up on the eighth row of the grid for tomorrow's A1GP World Cup of Motorsport sprint race at the Brands Hatch circuit in England. After a frantic day, which included changing the team's car between morning practice and qualifying, Bruno qualified in 16th position.
After struggling again in morning practice, following the pattern of results that has blighted the team throughout the 2006/07 season, A1GP officials agreed together with the Team Brasil engineering crew that a complete chassis change was required. The crew frantically prepared the car in the hours before this afternoon's qualifying, therefore Bruno headed into qualifying with no practice in a new car.
Despite this, Bruno set the 14th fastest time in the first segment of qualifying, and was up to 13th after segment two. He fell back to 14th after the third segment, although he did improve his overall combined time, and then headed out four minutes before the end of the final session to set his lap to determine his grid slot for tomorrow's sprint race. He set his fastest time of the weekend with a lap of 1:15.528 but, in an extremely competitive session, and with his limited time in the new car, it was only good enough for 16th spot.
The sprint race will begin tomorrow at 11am local time, with the feature race following on tomorrow afternoon at 3pm. The results of the sprint race will be used to set the grid for the feature race.
Bruno Junqueira: "The new car is better already I think. I was running a second faster than before. I haven't had a chance to test the car obviously, having gone straight into qualifying, but already I can feel that the balance is better. Unfortunately on my third qualifying lap I made a small mistake, and without that I think we could have been 11th or 12th, so we are improving."
Emerson Fittipaldi: "We have made a big improvement. Today we were one second from the quickest car whereas yesterday we were two seconds away. Bruno has to get used to the new car, he told me that he was too conservative on the two fastest corners, so we should go faster tomorrow. It's a shame we are starting from 16th, but we will have a good car for the race tomorrow."
A1 Team Canada hoped for more than a 14th place qualifying effort today as the Brands Hatch Circuit in England gets set to host the final round of the 2006-07 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport on Sunday, 29th April. Vancouver's Sean McIntosh, fresh off the back of his top-six race finish in China two weeks ago, was again behind the wheel but his successes were limited on Saturday with the Canadian entry struggling for pace around the 4.22km Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit.
An earlier indicator of the day's events came in the form of Saturday morning's hour-long practice session. McIntosh, who made his A1GP debut at Brands Hatch in the inaugural meeting in September 2005, posted the 14th fastest time, a 1m16.625s, from the field of 22 competing nations.
Qualifying, held under a brilliant clear blue sky, saw the 21-year-old post a 1m16.074s lap on new tires to start the four-segment session. Sean's second run, on used rubber, placed him 11th overall courtesy of a 1m16.007s tour. Fresh tires in the third segment again saw improvement with Sean recording a lap time of 1m15.593s before he followed that up with a faster fourth and final run, touring in 1m15.335s. Despite the progress made, the competition proved to be faster still with Canada sitting 14th on the timesheets with an aggregate time of 2m30.928s.
Great Britain's Robbie Kerr made A1GP history capturing the first pole position for a nation at their home event. Kerr's best of 2m28.899s pipped Germany's Nico Hülkenberg to the top spot on the grid for Sunday's Sprint race, the results of which then set the order for the afternoon's Feature race.
"We improved every session," said McIntosh after qualifying. "Unfortunately the speed just wasn't there. I can't look back and say I made mistakes at any point or anything like that. We just don't have the pace in the car so we'll have to keep working to see what we can improve. The Feature event is a long race and we know that anything can happen in A1GP. It would have been nice to have been up there in qualifying today but this is what we've been given so we have to go from there. I hear it might rain tomorrow which could help us out but it's disappointing to be so far back today. We're all competitive people here on the team so we're looking for better from our performances!"
A1 Team France qualified third for the sprint race with Loic Duval back at the wheel for the last round of this season.
Following a successful final practice session on Saturday morning where A1GP Team France was right on the pace the team went into qualifying in confident mood. Duval ended up third with an aggregate time of 2.29.378.
Loic Duval commented, "In the morning practice I felt comfortable in the car and on the track and well prepared for the qualifying session. I did not make any mistakes and some of the racers really know the track well and it has not prevented them making errors. It has taken me longer than I thought to fully understand how to get up to speed here on this tricky circuit. But I've found the groove now. We had a lot of oversteer and that prevented us pushing too hard towards the end of the session. Originally I had my sights set on pole, but it is not so bad and there will be a lot of work to do tomorrow to finish both races on the podium."