Neel Jani plays street fighter on his first day at Taupo

Neel Jani plays street fighter on his first day at Taupo

18.01.2008: Neel Jani plays street fighter on his first day at Taupo

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Since their arrival in Taupo, Neel Jani and Tom Dillmann have acclimatized to the place and the track new to both drivers. Part of this process included a fishing trout fishing challenge on the magnificent Lake Taupo on Thursday morning as part of the buildup to this weekend’s A1GP.

In the Friday rookie sessions where Canada Robert Wickens was the fastest overall (1.17.070), Tom Dillmann completed 12 laps setting a time of 1.19.116. Switzerland A1GP team engineer James Robinson had a routine technical program to work through with Dillmann. In the first official practice session, Neel Jani put on a great show for the additional newcomer TV viewers that have recently joined through Swiss STAR TV now broadcasting SSF - Schweizer Sport Fernsehen - coverage. After a difficult session, Neel completed with a third fastest time (1.15.919), only 0.374’ behind fastest France’s Duval and the Irish team’s Adam Carroll who was second fastest.

Tom Dillmann says: "I had a good two sessions and also demonstrated consistent laps but I am not satisfied with the times for my first outing at Taupo Circuit. The main thing is to have worked well and delivered what the technical team expected of me. The track is narrow, tight and twisty. It reminds me of a karting track. I was only able to complete five full fast laps that we made good use of to check the brakes.

It was a good working session that allowed me to learn the track and find my pace again at the wheel of the car that I had not driven since the summer Silverstone session. The session was a lot of work, but everything went according to engineering plan. I hope this will provide good data to Neel for the rest of this week-end."

Preparations for qualifying and the races themselves continued during the official practice session under bright sun and hot temperatures with Neel Jani driving for the first time at Taupo. After a difficult start where the Swiss driver encountered a slow puncture on his rear left tyre, Jani’s concentration was not affected, and he made impressive progress with the car set-up, finishing third place overall with 1.15.919.

Neel Jani commented, "The track was new to me and I realize you have to be a street fighter to attack this track. It is not smooth or flowing at all. You must attack permanently. With the team we did a lot of work over my 19 afternoon laps. I used part of the session to learn the track and am pretty happy with the results. To my big surprise, I had a slow puncture on the left rear tyre as I started and was loosing a lot of air. Then I stopped to put some air, but it was not helpful. Nevertheless I got a good run on lap 11 and climbed to third position with 1.15.946.

Later, we used the third and fourth outing with the team and the engineers for other additional routine systems checks. I finished with an improved time of 1.15.919 but my slow puncture problem was not solved. It will be interesting for the rest of the weekend on the narrow track where everyone will be close together and overtaking conditions are difficult. We still have one session tomorrow morning before the qualifying session to continue improve the car. This track is really hard work!"

Max Welti, team principal, A1 Team Switzerland commented, "I am satisfied for our first day under these very hot conditions. The team did a good job, and I am pleased with the work that we achieved today with both drivers. Tom Dillmann worked well with our technicians during the session. Yellow flags and incidents with other cars made it difficult to run full laps in good conditions.

When Neel took over the work was impressive because of the slow puncture at the start of the session. He nevertheless was able to continue through the working program without losing confidence or focus; his times were very fast."

Follow the race on Schweizer Sportfernsehen (SSF)

Live streaming on http://www.a1gp.com/ then click on view live racing stats.

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A1 Team Switzerland

A1 Team Switzerland is the Swiss national team in motorsport, representing its country in the unique global A1 GP World Cup of Motorsport. A1 Team Switzerland is entering its third year of racing in the A1 GP series. After 11 events and 22 races around the world, A1 Team Switzerland finished the inaugural A1GP season as runners-up, winning from pole position in Dubai. In 2006-2007 they again won from the pole in Malaysia, on the way to securing another top eight championship finish.

The drivers racing for their country in 2007-2008 will be Neel Jani and Sébastien Buemi. The rookie drivers will be Marcel Fässler, Tom Dillmann and two female rookie drivers, Rahel Frey and Natacha Gachnang who participated successfully to a shootout event at Silverstone in September 2007. They will have the chance to represent their national team starting with the Brno Grand Prix, 2nd leg of the A1 GP Championship.

A1 Team Switzerland’s selected best results

Sprint race: 2 x 1st - Malaysia 2006/2007 (Neel Jani) and Dubai 2005/2006 (Neel Jani)

Feature race:3 x 2nd 2005/2006 South Africa (Neel Jani), Malaysia (Neel Jani), Portugal (Neel Jani)

Pole Position:Malaysia 2005/2006 and 2006/2007 (Neel Jani), Dubai 2005/2006 (Neel Jani)

2007 Podiums: Zandvoort (Neel Jani), Brno-CZ (Neel Jani)

 

- Agnes Carlier - photos A1GP

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18.01.2008 / MaP

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