Neel Jani among the victims of aborted qualifying

Neel Jani among the victims of aborted qualifying

21.02.2009: An almost perfect result: third and fifth grid positions at Kyalami In Kyalami (South Africa), Neel Jani was on his way to claiming pole position for the feature race of the A1GP series, when qualifying was stopped due to an accident of

An almost perfect result: third and fifth grid positions at Kyalami

In Kyalami (South Africa), Neel Jani was on his way to claiming pole position for the feature race of the A1GP series, when qualifying was stopped due to an accident of Brazilian driver Felipe Guimarães. Among the victims were a dozen more drivers who all had to refrain from their final attempt after the red flag. Given these circumstances, grid positions three (for the sprint race) and five (for the feature race) can be considered as an almost perfect result.

In qualifying, the Swiss car felt considerably better than in practice on Friday and Saturday morning. Jani was convinced to be a serious contender in the battle for pole position. As a result of the preliminary end of qualifying, the line-up on the starting grid for the feature race looks a little bit strange, at least on the first two rows of the grid: Monaco ahead of Malaysia, New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland, Ireland and Portugal.

The first three benefited from their relatively early final attempt and thus from the possibility of using the power boost button which releases some 60 additional horsepower for one full lap by pushing a button. In the four qualifying heats, the drivers can use this performance boost only for one single lap that they have to choose themselves.

For the sprint race, Jani will be starting from third position behind The Netherlands and Portugal. Like four other drivers, Dutch driver Jeroen Bleekemolen had decided to use the power boost for the sprint qualifying session already. Bleekemolen was the only driver who arrived in Kyalami with meaningful knowledge of the track: in November 2008, he had contested two races with a Shelby CanAm sports car at the circuit.

Neel Jani accepted his bad fortune unfazed.
"Of course, it is a pity that I couldn't make full use of the possibilities. However, that is not the end of the world. I am very confident for the races, because the car behaved really well on Saturday afternoon. We have solved the problem we had in qualifying in New Zealand. I was in the top three in all four sessions, even with used tyres and without using the power boost. And in Taupo, we have shown already how to win a race from fifth place on the grid."


Max Welti didn't rate the incident that might have cost the Swiss team pole position too highly either. "The positive feeling prevails. In both races, we will be starting ahead of our main rivals from Ireland. With great satisfaction, I have also been watching the co-operation between Neel and our engineer James Robinson in the past few days.

The two of them have solved the problems that occurred on the car during the practice session in a professional way and well in time. And again, Neel has proven to be a matured race driver. He remained totally focussed, even when under pressure."

Off the track, Formula 1 driver Felipe Massa caught a lot of attention. Ferrari had invited the Brazilian to South Africa, once again underlining its commitment to the World Cup of Motorsport. From this season onwards, all A1GP cars are featuring chassis and engines supplied by Ferrari.

Kyalami/Gauteng (South Africa). A1GP (World Cup of Motorsport). Starting grid positions for the sprint race
: 1 Netherlands (Jeroen Bleekemolen) 1:27.717 (174.9 km/h). 2 Portugal (Filipe Albuquerque) 0.355 seconds down 3 Switzerland (Neel Jani) 0.436. 4 Monaco (Clivio Piccione) 0.700. 5. India (Narain Karthikeyan) 0.714. 6 Ireland (Adam Carroll) 0.720. 7 France (Nicolas Prost) 0.814. 8 South Africa (Adrian Zaugg) 1.173. 9 Malaysia (Fairuz Fauzy) 1.187. 10 Italy (Edoardo Piscopo) 1.536. 11 Germany (Michael Ammermüller) 1.620. 12 New Zealand (Earl Bamber) 1.647. 13 Great Britain (Danny Watts) 1.850. 14 Brazil (Felipe Guimarães) 2.009. 15 China (Ho-Pin Tung) 2.041. 16 Mexico (Salvador Durán) 2.167. 17 USA (Marco Andretti) 2.199. 18 Lebanon (Daniel Morad) 2.419. 19 Australia (John Martin) 2.697. - Did not start: Indonesia (Zahir Ali).

Starting grid positions for the feature race:
1 Monaco 1:27.269 (175.8 km/h) 2. Malaysia 0.136 seconds down. 3 New Zealand 0.300. 4 Australia 1.170. 5 Switzerland 1.252. 6 Ireland 1,324. 7 Portugal 1.504. 8 Brazil 1.609. 9 Netherlands 1.657. 10 Great Britain 1,823. 11 France 1.886. 12 China 1.889. 13 Mexico 2.074. 14 USA 2.218. 15 Germany 2.296. 16 South Africa 2.615. 17 Italy 2.794. 18 India 3.236. - Did not start: Indonesia and Lebanon. - Note: 13 drivers, including Neel Jani, had to refrain from their second attempt and thus from using the power boost due to a red flag.

Practice before qualifying:
1. Netherlands 1:28.128 (174.0 km/h). 2. USA 0.290 seconds down. 3. Lebanon 0.387. 4. Portugal 0.490. 5. France 0.574. 6. Monaco 0.626 7. Switzerland 0.886. 8. Ireland 0.955. 9. Brazil 1.123. 10. Australia 1.167. 11. New Zealand 1.253. 12. South Africa 1.347. 13. Mexico 1.415. 14. India 1.685. 15. Germany 1.852. 16. China 1.866. 17. Italy 1.903. 18. Great Britain 2.122. - Did not start: Indonesia and Malaysia.

-- Sunday. 11.00 - 11.30 (10.00 - 10.30): sprint (standing start). 15.00 - 16.10 (14.00 - 15.10): feature race (standing start).

A1GP WORLD CUP OF MOTORSPORT. Standings after 8 of 18 rounds:
1. Ireland 65. 2. Switzerland 52. 3. Portugal 49. 4. France 41. 5. Netherlands 38. 6. New Zealand 35. 7. Malaysia 31. 8. Australia 30. 9. South Africa 17. 10. Great Britain 16. 11. USA 16. 12. Monaco 9. 13. Italy 9. 14. India 5. 15. Brazil 4. 16. Korea 4. 17. China 4. 18. Lebanon 3. 19. Indonesia 0. 20. Mexico 0.

Schweizer Sportfernsehen SSF (STAR TV channel): Sunday, 18.00 - 19.30 CET. -- NT1: Sunday, 15.00. -- AB Moteurs: Saturday, 14.00 and Sunday, 14.00. -- RaiSportPiù: Sunday, 16.00.

- Michael Schneider -   photos A1GP
More photos on under Photos-Ecards- A1GP Series and Photos Slideshows


21.02.2009 / MaP

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