NICOLAS LAPIERRE/A1Team France grabbed the fastest time Saturday morning on the very last lap of the delayed hour-long A1GP Practice session at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. His fast time was 1:16.840, and was his second fastest time during the sunny session. It was a balmy 43 degrees F/6.1C. Last night after chequered flag it was 39F/3.9C. Friday night it snowed at Laguna.

Second was STEPHEN SIMPSON/A1Team South Africa, who had just turned the top time a minute before-1:16.847. It was Simpson's first time at the top this weekend. He had qualified fastest in the Monterrey Mexico round a fortnight ago, but that Saturday time was disqualified after Sunday Warm Up before the Sunday Sprint race.

ROBBIE KERR/A1Team Great Britain finished third with 1:18.873, after dogging SALVADOR DURAN/A1Team Mexico for much of the session. Duran and Kerr ran first and second in the last half of the practice.

Duran had been fastest for the longest in Practice, but was passed at the end by both Simpson and Kerr, and finished fourth. Fifth was RYAN BRISCOE/A1Team Australia. Earlier in the day Briscoe was chatted up by 2006 Rolex 24 Winner & 2003 IRL Champion, SCOTT DIXON and STEFAN JOHANSSON, who were here just for the day.

TOMAS ENGE/A1Team Czech Republic executed a spin, which almost was ballet. Coming down the Corkscrew, Enge spun full circle, kept it throttled and continued on. Poetry in motion. He finished sixth overall for the session. Enge's prior experience at Laguna includes twice with American Le Mans Series and testing a Champ Car with Dale Coyne Racing.

The overall times for all 22 drivers were faster than Friday.

Observers around the course say it's interesting to watch the various lines, and the difference between drivers with prior experience and first-timers. The Laguna veterans point and drive, while the Laguna rookies have their arms and steering wheels in full swing.

BRYAN HERTA/A1Team USA reached fifth fastest and finished eighth for the session.

Young GRAHAM RAHAL/A1Team Lebanon ran as high as second during the hour-long session, and finished tenth overall.

A1Team France has the inaugural A1GP Championship to lose. The team is 32 points ahead of second place A1Team Switzerland. GIORGIO MONDINI/A1Team Switzerland didn't have such a good session, running in twenty-first place.

PATRICK CARPENTIER/A1Team Canada went from last to fast Saturday morning. He led the charts for a while early on in the session, and finished seventh. Friday Carpentier had been last, running on wet tires. The amiable French-Canadian was saving his slick tires for the Saturday sessions. Carpentier has prior experience at Laguna, in Toyota Atlantics and Champ Car including two victories.

The Saturday morning schedule was revised after Friday night's thunder and lightning storm, which also brought hail and snow. Yes, there was snow at Laguna Seca - the first in anyone's memory - and it was still on the ground in the paddock Saturday morning when the teams started arriving. One of the teams had a small but tastefully decorated snowman guarding the shipping containers. There was enough snow piled up by the A1GP Catering Chalet that the South African lads had an impromptu snowball fight Saturday morning. One team member had never actually experienced snow before in his long and storied life.

The Saturday schedule delay wasn't due to actual track conditions - the 2.238-mile road course was fine. It was the off-course runoff areas, which were saturated. Any car off course would be going for a swim, and there was no water rescue equipment on site.

The most popular words this weekend ... "Event Schedule Subject to Change."

 

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