Two fastest times for A1 Team Switzerland in New Zealand

Two fastest times for A1 Team Switzerland in New Zealand

23.01.2009: Convincing performance by recovered Neel Jani and rookie Alex Imperatori For Team Switzerland, the A1GP race weekend at the other side of the world has got off to a good start. Neel Jani seems to have beaten the virus infection that had put

Convincing performance by recovered Neel Jani and rookie Alex Imperatori

For Team Switzerland, the A1GP race weekend at the other side of the world has got off to a good start. Neel Jani seems to have beaten the virus infection that had put him almost out of contention for one week. This became clearly visible by his fastest time in first practice of the World Cup of Motorsport at Taupo in New Zealand.

Jani's performance is all the more remarkable, as he had to abort his efforts in the one hour session on Friday after only 14 laps because the gearbox didn't work as it should. "We don't think it is a major problem", said team principal Max Welti. "We stopped running after 25 minutes in order to avoid a costly gearbox failure."

Although most other drivers had more than twice as much time to practice, Neel Jani's lap time remained unbeaten. "We will see on Saturday what this 1:15.971 is worth", said Welti. "Possibly, some teams have been sandbagging a little bit." Jani himself doesn't consider his lap time as his maximum either: "I think that there are at least two seconds to be found": Jani's record from last year (1:14.679) is likely to be beaten, not in the least because of the new, considerably faster cars, the "A1GP powered by Ferrari".

Neel Jani is optimistic concerning his health condition. "Halfway through last week, I still thought that it would be impossible for me to race in New Zealand. I had 40 degrees of fever, had balance problems and difficulties with my eyesight and with breathing. Still on Monday, I could only sit or stand up for an hour. Since I arrived in New Zealand, I am feeling better day after day, probably also thanks to the warm weather", the 25-year old from Berne said.

In case Jani shouldn't have recovered in time, the Swiss team would have had an apt replacement driver, Alexandre Imperatori. The soon-to-be 22-year old from Fribourg once more proved his skills by setting the fastest time in the rookie practice session on Friday morning. "Alex has done a good job here, too", said Max Welti. "He looked focussed and coped well with the pressure we had put on him deliberately. His job of not damaging the car and still be as quick as possible is by no means easy."

Taupo (New Zealand). A1GP World Cup of Motorsport. Practice:
1. Switzerland (Neel Jani) 1:15.971 (165,8 km/h). 2. Lebanon (Daniel Morad) 0.135 seconds down. 3. Australia (John Martin) 0.323. 4. Monaco (Clivio Piccione) 0.487. 5. Ireland (Adam Carroll) 0.566. 6. New Zealand (Chris van der Drift) 0.590. 7. Portugal (Filipe Albuquerque ) 0.651. 8. Netherlands (Robert Doornbos) 0.655. 9. France (Loïc Duval) 0.753. 10. South Africa (Adrian Zaugg) 0.761. 11. India (Narain Karthikeyan) 0.865. 12. Italy (Edoardo Piscopo) 0.876. 13. USA (Marco Andretti) 0.971. 14. Mexico (Salvador Durán) 1.107. 15. Brazil (Felipe Guimarães) 1.249. 16. Great Britain (Dan Clarke) 1.338. 17. Malaysia (Fairuz Fauzy) 1.541. 18. China (Cheng Cong Fu) 1.656. 19. Indonesia (Satrio Hermanto) 2.358.

Rookies: 1. Switzerland (Alexandre Imperatori) 1:18.091. 2. France (Nicolas Prost) 0.186. 3. Lebanon (Morad) 0.244. 4. New Zealand (Van der Drift) 0.322. 5. Portugal (António Félix da Costa) 0.479. 6. Malaysia (Aaron Lim) 0.675. 7. Brazil (Guimarães) 0.805. 8. Great Britain (James Winslow) 1.089. 9. Netherlands (Dennis Retera) 1.122. 10. USA (J.R. Hildebrand) 1,127. -- 18 countries.

PROGRAMME. Saturday. 11.00 - 12.00 (Fri 23.00 - 24.00): practice. 14.15 - 15.10 (02.15 - 03.10): qualifying. -- Sunday. 11.00 - 11.30 (Sat 23.00 - 23.30): sprint. 15.00 - 16.10 (03.00 - 04.10): feature race.

A1GP World Cup of Motorsport. Standings after 6 of 18 rounds: 1. Ireland 43. 2. Portugal 35. 3. France 31. 4. New Zealand 31. 5. Malaysia 29. 6. Switzerland 28. 7. Netherlands 26. 8. Australia 22. 9. Great Britain 16. 10. USA 16. 11. South Africa 15. 12. Monaco 9. 13. Italy 4. 14. Brazil 4. 15. Korea 4. 16. China 4. 17. Lebanon 3. 18. India 1. 19. Indonesia 0. 20. Mexico 0.

TV: Schweizer Sportfernsehen SSF (STAR TV channel): Sunday, 20.00 - 22.00 CET. -- NT1: Sunday, 15.00. -- AB Moteurs: Saturday, 14.00 and Sunday, 14.00.

-  Michael Schneider -  photo A1 Team Switzerland


23.01.2009 / MaP

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