Following a lengthy Christmas break, A1GP returned to action for the latest round at Taupo, New Zealand with reigning champions Switzerland dominating both free practice sessions.

Alexandre Imperatori claimed the honours during the rookie session, before Neel Jani assumed duties in full free practice to go just over a tenth quicker than the impressive Daniel Morad in the Lebanon machine.

Remarkably, Jani enters the event just a week after being rushed into hospital with suspected meningitis, ruining his training regime and leaving him feeling drained. Nonetheless, the former Formula 1 test driver insists he is feeling confident behind the wheel.

"I do have more colour today," Jani continued, "so it looks as thought the warm weather is helping me as we don't have minus degrees like at home. I am feeling better every day and had no issues with driving today so I am very positive."

Behind Morad, John Martin lifted Australia towards the front of the field in third place, while newcomers Monaco were also positioned well in fourth in the hands of GP2 race winner Clivio Piccione.

Championship leaders Ireland were a satisfied fifth with Adam Carroll, not least because arch-rivals Portugal, New Zealand and France were just behind him in seventh, sixth and ninth respectively.

Netherlands' Robert Doornbos and South Africa's Adrian Zaugg completed the remaining top ten positions in eighth and tenth.

Elsewhere, Great Britain's debutant for this weekend, Dan Clarke, endured a difficult start to his weekend down in 16th position, although he was one of several drivers to struggle in the hot and dusty conditions. Returnee Salvador Duran, Narain Karthikeyan, Zaugg, Doornbos, Chris van der Drift, Martin and Fairuz Fauzy all experienced off track moments through the day.