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Sepang: Saturday Quotes

NEWS STORY
24/11/2007

Brazil

A1 Team Brasil scored its best combined qualifying result of the season today as Sergio Jimenez put the A1GP car in seventh and sixth places respectively for tomorrow's sprint and feature races. Qualifying was held in exceedingly hot and humid conditions at the Sepang Circuit in Malaysia for the third round of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport.

The team continued to demonstrate its consistency and performance improvements in this morning's practice, with Sergio completing 18 laps of testing, finishing the session in eighth place. His time was less than a second from session leaders Team Switzerland, who later went on to blitz feature race qualifying with Neel Jani putting the Swiss car on pole by almost a second.

In segment one of qualifying for the sprint race, Sergio set a lap time of 1:50.326, putting himself in provisional fifth, despite suffering from understeer. The team worked hard to improve the car for the second segment, and Sergio set a time a second faster. However, the rest of the field were also working furiously, and Sergio's lap put him in seventh fastest overall, putting him on the fourth row for tomorrow's sprint race.

For tomorrow afternoon's feature race, Sergio will line up on the third row of the grid after setting an impressive time of 1:49.110 in segment four of qualifying. His previous time in segment three time of 1:50.000 was encouraging as the 23-year-old ran on old tyres.

Sergio Jimenez: "We expected something to need changing after the first qualifying for the sprint race and we were right as we suffered a lot of understeer in the first session. We made some big changes and improved the lap time by a second so we have to be happy with that. We should really be a couple of places higher, but seventh is not bad. In first qualifying for the feature race, we started very good on old tyres and improved the car a lot. Unfortunately I made a mistake on the middle sector of that lap, but the first sector was the fastest of the session. We put new tyres on for the final qualifying and the balance changed a bit. I had oversteer in three turns, so I think I could have been fourth, but we know we have a good car for the race and I'm confident we can get a podium here."

Emerson Fittipaldi, Team Principal: "I am pleased that we are showing an improved performance and consistency. I'm very happy with Sergio's last lap because he had oversteer and still set an impressive lap time. He should be in the top four but because of the time he lost due to that, I am happy to start from sixth. Sergio is getting more confident, is learning about the car and is working well with the engineers and the team. We have a good synergy and I'm looking forward to two positive races tomorrow."

Canada

Robert Wickens marked his first competitive weekend in the 2007-08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport by capturing A1 Team Canada's highest grid placing of the season courtesy of a fifth place start for Sunday's Sprint race at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia. The 18-year-old Toronto rookie followed his sterling performance in Sprint qualifying with 12th on the grid for the later Feature race putting Canada firmly in contention for two strong points scoring finishes on Sunday.

Sampling A1GP's unique qualifying format for the first time at the 5.54km Sepang track, Wickens used two brand new sets of tires for his first two runs, the fastest lap used to set the grid for the Sprint race. Despite being blocked on his first tour, a 1m49.252s lap on his second attempt was quick enough to land Canada its highest start position of the season with fifth overall. Feature qualifying was marred by a slight off at Turn 14 on the final run on fresh tires but Wickens posted the 12th quickest time, with a 1m49.642s, for a sixth row grid slot from the field of 22 nations.

"Qualifying for the Sprint race went well," said Wickens afterwards. "That said, the South African car almost stopped in front of me on my first run and that held me up. I am frustrated not to have qualified better for the Feature race, I had a little off and that ruined my final lap which was disappointing. I think we made good progress yesterday and again today so now we just have to concentrate on getting the finish in the points for the Sprint race and making up ground in the Feature. I think we're in quite good shape!"

France

A1 Team France's weekend got off to a good start on the Sepang circuit and the team confirmed its promising form today during qualifying for Sunday's sprint and long races. Loc Duval will start from second and fourth positions, which boosts his chances of making a fighting return to the championship with a couple of podium finishes.

During the first two segments of qualifying to determine the sprint race grid, A1 Team France was the only one able to provide serious opposition to pole position setter, the Swiss Team. Loc finished only 2/10s behind Neel Jani and will be on the front row tomorrow.

In the next two segments, which determine the grid for the long race, the team went for bust. After setting the second time once again the French engineers decided to change the set-up to gain that little extra pace. Unfortunately, its bet did not pay off and Loc could only set the fourth-quickest time.

However, these solid performances bode well for the rest of the weekend after which A1 Team France intends to have moved up in the overall classification.

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