Round five of the 2008-09 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport got underway in Gauteng with A1 Team Lebanon enjoying a rare moment in the limelight, as Daniel Morad posted the best time of the day.
A1 Team France set the early pace, with Nicolas Prost making the most of being able to run in the rookie session, before Morad posted a 1min 30.816secs lap to end the day quickest overall in the hot Kyalami sunshine.
Some 16 years after his father won at the same venue, Prost was the first to turn a wheel. The 27-year old was the first to go faster than the lap record set by Mauro Baldi in a Ferrari 333SP in 1998, and over three seconds quicker than the time - a 1min 36.390secs - set by Nigel Mansell in an 'old' F1 car in 1993.
The second car out on track was A1 Team Germany, getting its first running of the season with Michael Ammermüller behind the wheel, but it was Prost who ended the rookie session quickest with a time of 1min 33.149secs.
“The track is very nice,” the Frenchman said, “It's pretty hilly and it's a bit old–style, which is nice, with quick corners. It's going to be tough with a lot of competition here but, in the rookie session, the car was very good. We made a few bad changes let's say, and I was not that good, but I'm sure it will be okay tomorrow.”
Reigning champion Switzerland was first out on track in the final practice of the day, but it was Lebanon's Morad who emerged quickest, recording a lap 0.496secs faster than anyone else in the final minutes of the session.
“We seemed to get on the pace pretty quickly and it was fine,” Morad commented, “We kind of put a lot of thought into this one, just to see how quick we can get off the start and it was good. The thing I could really feel in the car was that the tyres are a lot better. I think, when we were running in Malaysia, the track felt really greasy and the tyres weren't giving that much grip in the hot conditions, but, in the cooler conditions, it seems to be quite good.”
Commenting on what preparation he had done before arriving in South Africa, the Canadian-based driver admitted that, other than learning the way the corners went, he had not been able to do much.
"I have been playing on my own simulator," he revealed, "I built a simulator up at home, but it's not that accurate because I went ten seconds slower here. I knew the direction of the track though, and I knew it was going to be challenging because of the elevation. I have to say that I really like this circuit. It reminds me of one back home in Canada. That is also an old F1 circuit like this, so a lot of the features are the same and I really like it.”
Local driver Adrian Zaugg ended the day sixth fastest with a time of 1min 31.881secs.