A1 Team Ireland pit crew repair damage mid-session -Firman qualifies 8th after qualifying accident

A1 Team Ireland pit crew repair damage mid-session -Firman qualifies 8th after qualifying accident

12.03.2006: A1 Team Ireland pit crew repair damage mid-session -Firman qualifies 8th after qualifying accident

Laguna Seca, USA, 11th March 2006: A1 Team Ireland will start tomorrow's USA A1 Grand Prix from 8th place on the grid after Ralph Firman suffered an accident on his third qualifying run, damaging the front left hand suspension. Highly competitive over the first two qualifying runs when he was 2nd fastest overall, Ralph caught a puddle on the inside of Turn 4 and went off the track, breaking the front left hand steering arm and damaging the lower wishbone.

He was able to return to the pits where the mechanics repaired the damage in just over 15 minutes and Ralph completed a fourth qualifying run, setting his fastest time of the day. Ralph's practice session this morning was also affected by suspension problems, the upper left rear wishbone and track control arm assembly suffering from a manufacturing fault. This was spotted after practice and the assembly replaced in time for qualifying.

Ralph Firman, Driver; Position 8th, Time 2m32.098s; "The car was very good over the first two qualifying runs and we were in a very competitive position. Unfortunately on the third run I caught a puddle just where the kerbing meets the track at Turn 4 and went off, bounced across the grass and hit the barrier a glancing blow. It's a shame and I am sorry for the team who did a great job repairing the damage and getting me out again. At least I know that we have a competitive car for tomorrow's race."

Andy Miller, Technical Director; "Initially we were very relieved to find out what the problem was this morning, which apparently is a suspension defect A1GP has come across before, so to recover from that and be highly competitive at the start of qualifying was very satisfying. Unfortunately a potential front row qualifying time was crashed away on the third run and it wasn't possible to fully recover. A tough day for us really."

Mark Gallagher, Team Principal; "We had a front row qualifying opportunity today but the off on the third run meant we lost the momentum and couldn't set an aggregate time with two final runs in the 1m15s bracket. Ralph is disappointed, as is the whole team, but once again the pit crew did a superb job to repair the damage and get the car out again."

www.a1teamireland.ie

- Tara O'Connor, Team A1 Ireland -

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12.03.2006 / MaP

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