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A1GP Switzerland Secures Double Pole at Sepang

Malaysia - Switzerland's Neel Jani put in a sensational performance during qualifying for the A1GP Sepang, Malaysia this afternoon to take pole position for tomorrow's Sprint and Feature race. The Swiss star will start the Sprint race from P1 tomorrow morning for the third consecutive season at Sepang and he will lead the drivers off the grid for A1GP's 50th ever race tomorrow afternoon.

Sprint race qualifying
Neel Jani continued his magnificent form around the Sepang circuit, setting the quickest lap during the first qualifying segment and going on to better it in the second to snatch pole position for the Sprint race from A1 Team France, demoting Loic Duval to second on the grid.

Great Britain's Oliver Jarvis and German rookie Michael Ammermüller will line up alongside each other on the second row of the Sprint race grid, followed by Canada's Robert Wickens and championship leader New Zealand's Jonny Reid in fifth and sixth place respectively.

Feature race qualifying
Having secured pole position for the Sprint race, Jani stamped his authority on the weekend by going on to also take pole for the Feature race, recording an outstanding lap of 1m47.648s in the closing minutes of the session, almost a second quicker than GBR's Oliver Jarvis who will line up alongside him on the front row.

Germany's Michael Ammermüller and Frenchman Loic Duval qualified in third and fourth position respectively while the Netherlands' Jeroen Bleekemolen will start the Feature race from fifth on the grid. Brazilian rookie Sergio Jimenez will line up alongside the Dutchman in sixth place on the third row.

After a challenging session, home nation Malaysia's Alex Yoong will start the Sprint race from 19th position and the Feature race from 15th.

Neel Jani was delighted with his final flying lap in the Swiss car and is aiming to convert his team's double pole into a double victory tomorrow:

'I thought that my 48.4 which I did on old tyres might already be enough for pole position. So on my last round I just went out and thought just go easy, don't push too much or break too late, and suddenly there was a 47.7 so maybe that was the solution! James, my engineer, and the team adjusted the car for each segment - we made some little adjustments on the tyres with ride heights and each time I went out the car was better and everything was just perfect. I hope we do tomorrow what we didn't do the last two years - get both race wins.'

The 23-year-old driver was also keen to recognise the contribution of Swiss rookie Rahel Frey, who took part in the first practice session at Sepang on Friday morning:

'My set up was not so far from what she (Rahel) figured out more or less so I have to thank her for that. It's a team effort with the rookie session and you have to go step by step.'

French driver Loic Duval knows the Sepang circuit well but struggled with the balance of the car during today's qualifying session:

'I've raced here before in a different category so it wasn't so difficult for me to learn the track. The braking points are a bit different in an A1GP car obviously but anyway it was enough to be at the front this weekend. We had quite a bit of understeer during the first three qualifying segments, so we tried something different in the last one to try to take pole, but then I suffered from big oversteer so it wasn't good actually. We're not quick enough to beat Neel this weekend in qualifying anyway.'

Great Britain's Oliver Jarvis, who will start the Sprint race from third on the grid and the Feature race from second, commented:

'We put on a new set of tyres for Qualifying 1 and the difference was amazing. Unfortunately it just caught me out as the car had a lot of oversteer. I turned into the double right hander and the car turned in immediately and I clipped the curb and nearly went off. So we didn't really set a competitive time in Q1 which meant we had to take Qualifying 2 quite cautiously. I think it would have been possible to get pole for the Sprint but we didn't have the pace for a 1.47, so congratulations to Neel and the team, they did a fantastic job to take pole in both.'

Tomorrow's Sprint race at Sepang, Malaysia will start at 11.00 local time and the 70-minute Feature race will start at 15:00.

Sprint race qualifying results - A1GP Sepang, Malaysia (round 3 of 10)

POS

A1 TEAM

DRIVER

 TIME S1

 TIME S2

 TIME

GAP FIRST

1

SWITZERLAND

Neel JANI

01:49.003

01:48.630

01:48.630

 

2

FRANCE

Loic DUVAL

01:49.072

01:48.845

01:48.845

+0.215

3

GREAT BRITAIN

Oliver JARVIS

01:50.677

01:48.864

01:48.864

+0.234

4

GERMANY

Michael AMMERMÜLLER

01:49.976

01:49.219

01:49.219

+0.589

5

CANADA

Robert WICKENS

01:50.560

01:49.252

01:49.252

+0.622

6

NEW ZEALAND

Jonny REID

01:50.677

01:49.330

01:49.330

+0.700

7

BRAZIL

Sergio JIMENEZ

01:50.326

01:49.376

01:49.376

+0.746

8

SOUTH AFRICA

Adrian ZAUGG

01:50.362

01:49.525

01:49.525

+0.895

9

CHINA

Congfu CHENG

01:50.601

01:49.535

01:49.535

+0.905

10

NETHERLANDS

Jeroen BLEEKEMOLEN

01:49.874

01:49.677

01:49.677

+1.047

11

USA

Jonathan SUMMERTON

01:52.872

01:49.758

01:49.758

+1.128

12

AUSTRALIA

Ian DYK

01:51.732

01:49.898

01:49.898

+1.268

13

IRELAND

Adam CARROLL

02:06.063

01:49.915

01:49.915

+1.285

14

INDIA

Narain KARTHIKEYAN

01:50.700

01:50.226

01:50.226

+1.596

15

PORTUGAL

Joao URBANO

01:51.452

01:50.329

01:50.329

+1.699

16

MEXICO

Michel JOURDAIN

01:52.834

01:50.364

01:50.364

+1.734

17

CZECH REPUBLIC

Erik JANIS

01:52.597

01:50.401

01:50.401

+1.771

18

ITALY

Enrico TOCCACELO

01:51.239

01:50.546

01:50.546

+1.916

19

MALAYSIA

Alex YOONG

01:52.415

01:50.653

01:50.653

+2.023

20

LEBANON

Chris ALAJAJIAN

01:50.871

01:50.775

01:50.775

+2.145

21

INDONESIA

Satrio HERMANTO

01:52.614

01:51.618

01:51.618

+2.988

22

PAKISTAN

Adam KHAN

02:28.584

01:51.819

01:51.819

+3.189

Feature race qualifying results - A1GP Sepang, Malaysia (round 3 of 10)

POS

A1 TEAM

A1 DRIVER

 TIME S1

 TIME S2

 TIME

GAP FIRST

1

SWITZERLAND

Neel JANI

01:48.425

01:47.648

01:47.648

 

2

GREAT BRITAIN

Oliver JARVIS

01:49.324

01:48.608

01:48.608

+0.960

3

GERMANY

Michael AMMERMÜLLER

01:49.293

01:48.736

01:48.736

+1.088

4

FRANCE

Loic DUVAL

01:48.807

01:48.905

01:48.807

+1.159

5

NETHERLANDS

Jeroen BLEEKEMOLEN

01:49.694

01:49.021

01:49.021

+1.373

6

BRAZIL

Sergio JIMENEZ

01:50.000

01:49.110

01:49.110

+1.462

7

IRELAND

Adam CARROLL

01:49.248

01:50.081

01:49.248

+1.600

8

CHINA

Congfu CHENG

01:49.644

01:49.308

01:49.308

+1.660

9

SOUTH AFRICA

Adrian ZAUGG

01:49.637

01:49.324

01:49.324

+1.676

10

NEW ZEALAND

Jonny REID

01:49.600

01:49.353

01:49.353

+1.705

11

INDIA

Narain KARTHIKEYAN

01:49.797

01:49.543

01:49.543

+1.895

12

CANADA

Robert WICKENS

01:49.642

01:49.726

01:49.642

+1.994

13

USA

Jonathan SUMMERTON

01:49.818

01:49.937

01:49.818

+2.170

14

AUSTRALIA

Ian DYK

01:50.912

01:49.868

01:49.868

+2.220

15

MALAYSIA

Alex YOONG

01:50.102

01:49.997

01:49.997

+2.349

16

CZECH REPUBLIC

Erik JANIS

01:50.020

01:50.617

01:50.020

+2.372

17

PORTUGAL

Joao URBANO

01:50.163

01:50.109

01:50.109

+2.461

18

ITALY

Enrico TOCCACELO

01:50.408

01:50.193

01:50.193

+2.545

19

INDONESIA

Satrio HERMANTO

01:51.335

01:50.651

01:50.651

+3.003

20

MEXICO

Michel JOURDAIN

01:50.869

01:51.067

01:50.869

+3.221

21

PAKISTAN

Adam KHAN

01:51.670

01:50.871

01:50.871

+3.223

22

LEBANON

Chris ALAJAJIAN

01:50.178*

01:51.161

01:51.161

+3.513

* A1 Team Lebanon will start tomorrow's Feature race from the back of the grid after having its lap time from the third qualifying session disqualified when the car was found to be under the minimum weight at the end of that segment.

 

Great Britain Tops Friday Practice as Lap Times Tumble

Malaysia - A1 Team Great Britain dominated today's free practice sessions at Sepang circuit in hot and humid conditions, as round three of the 2007/08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport season kicked off in Malaysia.

23-year-old Oliver Jarvis set the pace, clocking an outstanding lap of 1m49.459s on worn tyres around the 5.54km circuit, slashing New Zealand's lap record of 1m53.343s which was set by Jonny Reid at last year's A1GP Sepang event in November 2006.

Jarvis was pleased with his team's start to the weekend but is adamant there is still work to be done and is targeting a strong qualifying performance tomorrow afternoon:

'It was a reasonable day. I would've liked a bit more pace early on in the session with the new tyres but I'm very happy with the lap time set at the end - for the age of the tyres it was fairly fantastic. But tomorrow's when it really counts and the guys will sit down tonight and analyse the data and hopefully we'll come back even stronger tomorrow.'

Switzerland's Neel Jani, whose driving style suits the smooth and flowing Sepang circuit, finished the day second fastest, just under half a second off the British car. Jani took over from Rahel Frey who was in the Swiss car this morning for the rookie session. Frey set the 13th quickest time and became the fifth female to drive an A1GP car during a race weekend.

France's Loic Duval set the third fastest time of the day while the fourth spot was taken by current championship leader New Zealand's Jonny Reid, closely followed by China and defending champion Germany in fifth and sixth place respectively.

Home nation Malaysia's Alex Yoong had a difficult session this afternoon and was not able to improve on 17th place due to the session being yellow flagged when Pakistan's Adam Khan spun off towards the end of the hour.

Commenting on his performance today and his team's chances this weekend, Yoong said:

'We're losing quite a bit of time through the middle sector - the medium and high speed corners are where we're struggling a bit. I was pleasantly surprised to see how much grip there is out there and they've done a good job resurfacing it - it doesn't feel at all like the track we had last year. We made a couple of changes to the car during the session in the right direction but there's still a lot of work to be done overnight. I don't think today's time is truly representative of where we are and we should be able to improve that quite a bit tomorrow. There are still a couple of things we can improve on the car for sure. I am feeling more confident since Brno but I'm not going to count my chickens before they've hatched and we've got to keep pushing and hopefully keep improving throughout the weekend.'

Official Practice Session 1 - Rookie drivers and developing nations only

POS

A1 TEAM

DRIVER

TIME S1

LAP S1

TIME S2

LAP S2

TIME

GAP FIRST

1

GREAT BRITAIN

Oliver JARVIS

01:52.868

8

01:52.013

5

01:52.013

 

2

BRAZIL

Sergio JIMENEZ

01:53.954

6

01:52.757

4

01:52.757

+0.744

3

AUSTRALIA

John MARTIN

01:54.539

6

01:52.806

5

01:52.806

+0.793

4

ITALY

Edoardo PISCOPO

01:54.777

9

01:53.161

10

01:53.161

+1.148

5

NEW ZEALAND

Earl BAMBER

01:56.046

7

01:53.682

9

01:53.682

+1.669

6

USA

Charlie KIMBALL

01:57.323

5

01:53.783

5

01:53.783

+1.770

7

CZECH REPUBLIC

Erik JANIS

01:55.705

6

01:53.787

5

01:53.787

+1.774

8

PORTUGAL

Joao URBANO

01:54.964

6

01:53.789

3

01:53.789

+1.776

9

MEXICO

Michel JOURDAIN

01:55.572

7

01:53.796

8

01:53.796

+1.783

10

IRELAND

Adam CARROLL

01:55.622

7

01:54.031

4

01:54.031

+2.018

11

SOUTH AFRICA

Wesleigh ORR

01:56.635

6

01:54.385

8

01:54.385

+2.372

12

CANADA

Robert WICKENS

01:56.187

5

01:54.695

2

01:54.695

+2.682

13

SWITZERLAND

Rahel FREY

01:58.848

6

01:55.102

6

01:55.102

+3.089

14

NETHERLANDS

Arie LUYENDYK

01:57.414

7

01:55.267

8

01:55.267

+3.254

15

MALAYSIA

Aaron LIM

01:55.278

7

01:55.387

6

01:55.278

+3.265

16

INDONESIA

Satrio HERMANTO

02:03.177

3

01:55.453

5

01:55.453

+3.440

17

INDIA

Parthiva SURESHWAREN

01:58.549

8

01:55.567

9

01:55.567

+3.554

18

CHINA

Marchy LEE

01:55.576

5

01:55.680

5

01:55.576

+3.563

19

GERMANY

Michael AMMERMÜLLER

 

0

01:57.400

3

01:57.400

+5.387

20

LEBANON

Chris ALAJAJIAN

01:57.684

5

 

0

01:57.684

+5.671

Official Practice session 2 (14.00 - 15.00)

POS

A1 TEAM

DRIVER

TIME

 GAP FIRST

 LAPS

1

GREAT BRITAIN

Oliver JARVIS

01:49.459

-

22

2

SWITZERLAND

Neel JANI

01:49.911

+0.452

18

3

FRANCE

Loic DUVAL

01:50.094

+0.635

17

4

NEW ZEALAND

Jonny REID

01:50.320

+0.861

17

5

CHINA

Congfu CHENG

01:50.471

+1.012

17

6

GERMANY

Michael AMMERMÜLLER

01:50.641

+1.182

19

7

BRAZIL

Sergio JIMENEZ

01:50.753

+1.294

14

8

CANADA

Robert WICKENS

01:50.909

+1.450

16

9

INDIA

Narain KARTHIKEYAN

01:50.989

+1.530

19

10

NETHERLANDS

Jeroen BLEEKEMOLEN

01:51.006

+1.547

19

11

SOUTH AFRICA

Adrian ZAUGG

01:51.010

+1.551

19

12

IRELAND

Adam CARROLL

01:51.174

+1.715

20

13

PORTUGAL

Joao URBANO

01:51.266

+1.807

22

14

USA

Jonathan SUMMERTON

01:51.304

+1.845

23

15

AUSTRALIA

Ian DYK

01:51.387

+1.928

20

16

ITALY

Enrico TOCCACELO

01:51.513

+2.054

21

17

MALAYSIA

Alex YOONG

01:51.668

+2.209

19

18

CZECH REPUBLIC

Erik JANIS

01:51.830

+2.371

21

19

LEBANON

Chris ALAJAJIAN

01:52.076

+2.617

16

20

MEXICO

Michel JOURDAIN

01:52.201

+2.742

17

21

INDONESIA

Satrio HERMANTO

01:52.926

+3.467

19

22

PAKISTAN

Adam KHAN

01:52.993

+3.534

17

 

A1GP Formula One Legend Fittipaldi To Return To The Track

London, Great Britain - Emerson Fittipaldi has vowed to come out of retirement to test the new Ferrari-powered A1GP World Cup of Motorsport car next season.

The 60-year-old A1 Team Brazil boss is so excited about A1GP’s involvement with Ferrari that he has confirmed he will get back behind the wheel to test the contemporary single-seater.

Following last week’s historic announcement that the Italian sports car manufacturer will supply all engines to A1GP from next season, Fittipaldi, who never drove for Ferrari in his Formula One career, will not race the car but instead will look to get behind the wheel at the earliest opportunity.

‘When I was told about the possibility of Ferrari coming on board I thought it was brilliant,’ Fittipaldi said.

‘The Ferrari name alone is incredible and people are going to give A1GP more respect and we are going to be much bigger. When Ferrari’s people visited us in Zandvoort they loved our A1GP weekend and they are very enthusiastic to get involved with A1GP.

‘Ferrari will help design a beautiful car. I always wanted to drive for Ferrari and now I can! I will at least test the car. I won’t race it, but I want to test the car. I’m very excited about it.

‘The partnership with Ferrari will make more drivers want to get involved in A1GP too. It will be an exciting formula for the racing.’

A1GP New Zealand Does The Double At Brno

Czech Republic - A1 Team New Zealand took its second victory of the day in this afternoon's thrilling Feature race at Brno in the Czech Republic, moving the team into the championship lead by one point. Jonny Reid crossed the line in first place from seventh on the grid, ahead of the Netherlands' Jeroen Bleekemolen and Switzerland's Neel Jani in second and third position respectively.

Another gripping start greeted the crowds at a chilly but sunny Brno as pole-sitter Bleekemolen and the cars of South Africa and Great Britain went three abreast into the first corner, the Dutchman making it stick to hold the lead ahead of Adrian Zaugg, Robbie Kerr and China's Congfu Cheng.

New Zealand's Reid moved up a place at the start and was all over the back of fifth-placed Jani in the Swiss car while further down the pack Ireland's Adam Carroll had made an incredible start from 18th on the grid, gaining six places to 12th by the end of lap one.

By lap five Bleekemolen had edged out a 3.5 second lead over Zaugg, who was holding up the pack as the Dutch car stormed into the distance. As the first mandatory pit stop window opened on lap eight, race leader Bleekemolen was the first man in for a fresh set of tyres, closely followed by South Africa, Great Britain and New Zealand. Reid's team did an awesome job in the pits, getting 'Black Beauty' out on track ahead of Zaugg and Kerr, who had been battling for second place.

As the pit stop window closed on lap 15 the top six settled behind the Netherlands to New Zealand, Switzerland, Great Britain, closely followed by China, France and Germany. Two laps later Kerr was forced to pit with a puncture, moving China up into fourth place as the British racer rejoined in 20th.

Second-placed Reid was on blistering form, closing in on Bleekemolen to within half a second by lap 25 when the Dutch driver pitted for his second obligatory stop. With eight laps to go the Kiwi had pulled out a 32 second lead when he came in for his second stop on lap 30. Having rejoined in the top spot after fast work in the pits, Reid eked out his advantage over Bleekemolen and Jani to over six seconds by the start of the final lap.

New Zealand went on to stamp its authority on the weekend by taking another commanding victory, followed home by the Netherlands and Switzerland in second and third place with China hot on its heels in fourth. Fifth position was taken by A1 Team France as Ireland crossed the line in an incredible sixth place, having started back in 18th. Brazil finished seventh while the final three point scoring positions were taken by Germany, India and Italy.

Local hero Erik Janis finished a solid 12th in his home race, having started 17th. GBR's Kerr had a disappointing race after being forced to pit three times, eventually crossing the line in 17th behind South Africa.

Jonny Reid was delighted with his team's performance today and can't wait for round three at Sepang in Malaysia:

'We're very pleased as a team. I couldn't have asked more from the boys in the pits. The car was well balanced and I was just happy to push 110 per cent all the time and average a very quick time and that brought us up behind Netherlands and again the pit stops again were great and I was able to pull a margin with some clear air at one point in the race so I'm really pleased.'

He continued:

'The car was good, I knew that and I was able to push. I was held up by the Netherlands and once I got some clear air I was able to put some good laps together and get a margin and it was big enough to jump them in the pits. The car was good everywhere and I was able to push 110 per cent. I had no problems with the car and was able to be very quick. I can't wait for Malaysia. The car's good, I'm feeling good. The warmer climates don't bother me at all so I'm looking forward to getting out there and getting into things.'

Second-placed Jeroen Bleekemolen said:

'Well because the wear on the tyres is so high here I thought he (Reid) is not going to stay out and I can make up ground on him so he can never overtake me, but then I was behind India for three laps which cost me about three to four seconds totally. He was definitely faster today but we had the pole position and we pulled away at the beginning so we could have won it if we didn't have traffic. Their car was a bit faster today than us but we had a chance. It's really difficult to overtake here. All the corners are pretty quick so when you come close to someone you can't always overtake. With India I caught them pretty quickly but then couldn't get passed and it's really difficult.'

Switzerland's Neel Jani, who was under pressure from A1 Team China but managed to hold position to cross the line third and join Reid and Bleekemolen on the podium at Brno, commented:

'At the end they were catching up massively. First I watched in the mirrors and I couldn't see any cars and the second lap I looked in the mirrors and he's all over me, so I had to be very careful not to make any mistakes at the end and luckily the race ended.'

China's Congfu Cheng, who had a difficult start to the season two weeks ago, was looking good for his first podium finish but eventually crossed the line a competitive fourth behind Jani:

'I am very happy and really thanks to the team because we had a terrible weekend in Zandvoort and to be able to come this high particularly in this race as well it's a great surprise and I'm really looking forward to the next race now. The team made a good strategy and we were quite competitive on old rubber and we knew that once we put on new tyres we would be even better. I thought if I am able to get two more laps I could put a bit more pressure onto Switzerland, but it was a great effort that they put in so congratulations to them. In China motor racing has just started, so to be able to finish that high at this level of competition is great.'

Irish rookie Adam Carroll, who had an incredible race to cross the line sixth having started 18th on the grid, said:

'It was a great race and I got a great first lap in and you know there is nothing to lose starting from 18th so you get stuck in, it's a long race. The pit stops went really well, the guys did a fantastic job and we were able to come through to sixth which was a very, very good result. There's a lot of support from back home and there's a great team atmosphere, so I'd like to thank everyone for doing a great job and giving me the opportunity to do this.'

New Zealand now leads the title challenge on 37 points, just ahead of South Africa on 36 and Great Britain on 31 as the series has a short break before heading to Sepang, Malaysia on 23-25 November 2007.

Feature race results

Pos

Driver

A1 Team

 Time

Gap First

1

Jonny REID

NEW ZEALAND

1:10:34.700

-

2

Jeroen BLEEKEMOLEN

NETHERLANDS

1:10:41.846

7.146

3

Neel JANI

SWITZERLAND

1:10:46.977

12.277

4

Congfu CHENG

CHINA

1:10:47.423

12.723

5

Nicolas LAPIERRE

FRANCE

1:10:54.139

19.439

6

Adam CARROLL

IRELAND

1:10:59.048

24.348

7

Sergio JIMENEZ

BRAZIL

1:11:04.325

29.625

8

Christian VIETORIS

GERMANY

1:11:12.649

37.949

9

Narain KARTHIKEYAN

INDIA

1:11:13.085

38.385

10

Enrico TOCCACELO

ITALY

1:11:24.106

49.406

11

James HINCHCLIFFE

CANADA

1:11:26.231

51.531

12

Erik JANIS

CZECH REPUBLIC

1:11:32.499

57.799

13

Ian DYK

AUSTRALIA

1:11:37.248

+1:02.548

14

Alex YOONG

MALAYSIA

1:11:37.938

+1:03.238

15

Buddy RICE

USA

1:11:57.490

+1:22.790

16

Adrian ZAUGG

SOUTH AFRICA

1:11:57.800

+1:23.100

17

Robbie KERR

GREAT BRITAIN

1:11:58.433

+1:23.733

18

Joao URBANO

PORTUGAL

1:11:59.618

+1:24.918

19

Satrio HERMANTO

INDONESIA

1:12:00.037

+1:25.337

20

Adam KHAN

PAKISTAN

1:12:06.215

+1:31.515

21

Khalil BESCHIR

LEBANON

1:11:06.771

1 Lap

22

Michel JOURDAIN

MEXICO

1:11:38.703

1 Lap

 2007/08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport points standings

Pos

 A1 Team

Points

1

NEW ZEALAND

37

2

SOUTH AFRICA

36

3

GREAT BRITAIN

31

4

NETHERLANDS

31

5

FRANCE

29

6

SWITZERLAND

29

7

IRELAND

23

8

MEXICO

17

9

GERMANY

14

10

CHINA

10

11

BRAZIL

4

12

INDIA

3

13

PORTUGAL

2

14

ITALY

1

15

CZECH REPUBLIC

1

Fastest lap: A1 Team China set the fastest lap in the Feature race, lapping Brno circuit in 1m47.610s with a speed of 180.8 kph on lap 29 of the 38 lap race.

Next race: A1GP Sepang, Malaysia, 23-25 November 2007

A1GP New Zealand Takes Sublime Sprint Race Win

Czech Republic - A1 Team New Zealand's Jonny Reid raced to a sensational victory at Brno this morning at round two of the 2007/08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport season in the Czech Republic, dominating from the first corner to the end of the 10 lap race. Great Britain's Robbie Kerr and Ireland's A1GP debutant Adam Carroll joined Reid on the podium in second and third position respectively.

Reid took the advantage from second on the grid on the run into the first corner of the Sprint race in perfect weather conditions, as pole-sitter South Africa fell back three places to fourth behind a thrilling scrap for second between A1 Team Great Britain and Ireland.

Kerr managed to hold off the Irish rookie but the pair continued to battle and make contact as Reid started to streak away in 'Black Beauty', edging out a two second lead by the end of lap three. The 23-year-old racer from Auckland was never under threat as the pack settled down behind him and concentrated on their own fights for on-track position.

Nicolas Lapierre made an incredible start in the French car, carving his way through the field from 10th place to sixth behind the Netherlands' Jeroen Bleekemolen on the opening lap. The Frenchman made several attempts to snatch fifth from the Dutch star but the pair remained in fifth and sixth position behind fourth-placed Adrian Zaugg when they crossed the line.

German rookie Christian Vietoris managed to hold off the more experienced Neel Jani in the Swiss car, taking seventh place and a valuable four points. Portugal's Joao Urbano and China's Congfu Cheng took the final points-paying positions, finishing ninth and tenth respectively.

Reid went on to win the 10 lap race by a commanding six seconds from second-placed Kerr, closely followed by Carroll in third, who was sensational in his maiden A1GP race.

Commenting on his fourth A1GP race win, Reid said:

'We made a good start, South Africa was slightly in front of me and then I just pulled in close and got a bit of draft and I was on a good line for the breaking area. South Africa had to defend from Great Britain and I was able to go right around the outside. The guys are working so hard this weekend and we've got to keep a good balance on the car. We are out there to win and we're looking forward to the Feature race for sure.'

Following Great Britain's winning start to the season at Zandvoort two weeks ago, Kerr was pleased to finish on the podium and pick up some more championship points for Team GBR. The 28-year-old said:

'I was on the tighter line going into the first corner which didn't give me the exit and allowed Adam to come round the outside. It was a brave move by Adam and he pulled it off well, but then going into the next corner I knew I had to get ahead. I knew the car had the front grip to do it and Adam tried to come back, but unfortunately for him we both ran out of room and I took position. It was a great first lap and great battling with Adam. I'm just looking forward to the Feature race now. We need to make a few improvements to the car but we know what we've got to do. We're fairly happy with where we are.'

Carroll, who suffered from damage sustained to the Irish charger during his first lap tussle with GBR's Robbie Kerr, was delighted to score A1 Team Ireland's first podium finish since the Portugal Feature race in season one:

'It was pretty good. I got a good tow off Jonny down into turn one on the PowerBoost. The guys held quite a tight line so with the slipstream I was able to pull out and actually get right up alongside Jonny. I went into turn one and Robbie was tight and I just went around the outside. I think that's when he hit the bump on the inside that forced the rear of the car out and he tapped me, and that's what put me a little bit wide.'

On whether this was just beginner's luck, Carroll commented:

'We're not going to need luck this year, we're going to do it on pace because the guys have done such a good job. They're working really hard and for the Feature race, even though we're starting down at the back, hopefully we will have the pace and we can come through to a good position.'

Canada's James Hinchcliffe was on fine form, quietly climbing from 20th on the grid and staying out of trouble to finish 12th behind Brazil's Sergio Jimenez.

It was a quiet race for home nation rookie driver Erik Janis who brought the Czech Republic car home in 18th position having started the 20 minute race in 21st.

Ian Dyk was forced to park the Australian car in the garage on lap three after it was hit by debris when A1 Team Lebanon ran wide directly in front of him. The car sustained considerable damage but A1 Team Australia are confident they will be able to repair it in time for the Feature race, which starts at 15:00 this afternoon.

Sprint race results

Pos

Driver

A1 Team

Time

Gap First

1

Jonny REID

NEW ZEALAND

18:11.609

-

2

Robbie KERR

GREAT BRITAIN

18:17.561

+5.952

3

Adam CARROLL

IRELAND

18:20.433

+8.824

4

Adrian ZAUGG

SOUTH AFRICA

18:21.878

+10.269

5

Jeroen BLEEKEMOLEN

NETHERLANDS

18:23.170

+11.561

6

Nicolas LAPIERRE

FRANCE

18:23.412

+11.803

7

Christian VIETORIS

GERMANY

18:24.809

+13.200

8

Neel JANI

SWITZERLAND

18:25.056

+13.447

9

Joao URBANO

PORTUGAL

18:30.179

+18.570

10

Congfu CHENG

CHINA

18:30.410

+18.801

11

Sergio JIMENEZ

BRAZIL

18:33.781

+22.172

12

James HINCHCLIFFE

CANADA

18:35.605

+23.996

13

Michel JOURDAIN

MEXICO

18:36.536

+24.927

14

Enrico TOCCACELO

ITALY

18:37.531

+25.922

15

Adam KHAN

PAKISTAN

18:40.372

+28.763

16

Buddy RICE

USA

18:42.685

+31.076

17

Alex YOONG

MALAYSIA

18:45.270

+33.661

18

Erik JANIS

CZECH REPUBLIC

18:46.324

+34.715

19

Satrio HERMANTO

INDONESIA

18:59.798

+48.189

20

Khalil BESCHIR

LEBANON

19:01.439

+49.830

21

Narain KARTHIKEYAN

INDIA

19:49.425

+1:37.816

22

Ian DYK

AUSTRALIA

3 laps

7 Laps

Fastest lap: A1 Team New Zealand set the fastest lap (1m48.438s) of the Sprint race on lap five.