Neel Jani takes Pole for A1 Team Switzerland

Sat, 19 November 2005, 12:34

After an exciting afternoon’s qualifying which saw the last three sessions declared wet as the black clouds rolled in and heavy rain fell on the Sepang International Circuit, A1 Team Switzerland has taken its first pole position at the Malaysia A1 Grand Prix of Nations, Sepang International Circuit, 2005 presented by Astro.

Neel Jani said: ‘It was very difficult on track today as there was rain on some corners and not on others. I thought I would have been able to go faster in the second session but there was drizzle in some parts of the track. It is very difficult to make a tyre choice in those conditions. It is very difficult to read the weather here and it could start to rain in the race, but we did get the chance to try a dry set-up in the damp conditions to see how the car reacts.’

Commenting on the rolling start in the Sprint race, Jani said: ‘In the first race it is easy to tell who is professional or not. The first race is really about looking after the car and getting a good grid position. Tomorrow I have some professional drivers around me so it should be ok.’

Twenty-four A1 Teams took to the track in the first session, all recording lap times within 2.506 seconds of each other. As the rain started to fall in the second session, lap times increased and as conditions worsened, session three became a wash out. Only three teams, those from the Czech Republic, Mexico and Lebanon braved the treacherous track to complete their flying lap. The rain eased slightly as session four began and 18 A1 Teams chose to complete the session although with slower lap times, the table remained unchanged from the first two sessions.

Alexandre Premat, who will take second position on the Sprint race grid said: ‘The second session was good, although I think we decided to go out too late, and it made it difficult behind so many cars and the track was getting wetter. We have learnt a lot about how to prepare the car in the different conditions and I hope to win tomorrow. If it rains tomorrow it will be very difficult as vision behind another car is very bad.’

A1 Team Ireland achieved their best qualifying result to date, putting them third on the Sprint race grid. Driver, Ralph Firman said: ‘I’ve had a really good weekend. We were very strong, and although we didn’t have the best lap in the first session we had a good lap in the second session. It’s hard to tell what will happen tomorrow as we don’t know what the weather conditions will be. It is a wide circuit and there will be good overtaking possibilities. For those that look after the tyres through the race there will be chances to overtake near the end. Being in the top three is good and we have a great opportunity and chance of winning a race tomorrow.’

A1 Team Malaysia, who also put in their best ever qualifying result are the only team that will take advantage of A1 Grand Prix’s unique rule which allows them to swap drivers between qualifying and the two races. While Alex Yoong qualified in seventh position, Fairuz Fauzy will drive in tomorrow’s Sprint Race and Alex in the Feature Race.

Qualifiying results
1 Switzerland Neel Jani 3.48.962
2 France Alexandre Premat 3.49.868
3 Ireland Ralph Firman 3.49.969
4 Great Britain Robbie Kerr 3.49.972
5 New Zealand Matt Halliday 3.50.569
6 Netherlands Jos Verstappen 3.51.036
7 Malaysia Alex Yoong 3.51.199
8 Brazil Nelson Piquet Jr 3.51.398
9 Portugal Alvaro Parente 3.51.547
10 Italy Enrico Toccacelo 3.51.894
11 Indonesia Ananda Mikola 3.51.996
12 USA Bryan Herta 3.52.013
13 South Africa Stephen Simpson 3.52.118
14 Pakistan Adam Khan 3.52.200
15 India Armaan Ebrahim 3.52.829
16 Germany Timo Scheider 3.53.267
17 Mexico Luis Diaz 3.53.656
18 Czech Republic Tomas Enge 3.53.766
19 Japan Hayanari Shimoda 3.53.948
20 Austria Mathias Lauda 3.54.989
21 China Tengyi Jiang 3.56.047
22 Canada Sean McIntosh 4.00.397
23 Lebanon Khalil Beschir 4.17.659
24 Australia Will Davison 4.17.860

Press release

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