A1 Team Switzerland and driver Neel Jani will start Sunday's sprint race in Malaysia from pole position after a dominant display in qualifying at the Sepang circuit.

A1 returnee Jani was quickest in the first of four 15-minute qualifying segments around the Malaysian circuit and never relinquished top spot as some of his expected main rivals tripped over each other.

Jani could even afford to miss the fourth and final qualifying period, saving himself a set of new tyres in the process, and still comfortably outpace fellow front row qualifiers New Zealand.

New Zealand driver Jonny Reid, whose last front row A1GP start ended in a crash before the first corner, also missed the final qualifying session and, like Jani, saved a set of new tyres for race day.

One place behind Reid was the other driver involved in the start-line crash at Brno, Team Germany's Nico Hulkenberg. Hulkenberg, who threw away a potential feature race win in Beijing last time out, almost blotted his copybook once again in the first qualifying segment when he tipped Team Ireland's Michael Devaney into a spin, but managed to escape unscathed.

With rain threatening the Malaysian circuit in the latter stages of qualifying, the increase in wind speed didn't help the track conditions and left many teams frustrated in the final session. The conditions, coupled with the only red flag of the afternoon for Team Lebanon's Khalil Beschir's mechanical problem, made for a rather anti-climatic end to qualifying with Switzerland, New Zealand, Germany and fourth place qualifiers Great Britain all holding position in the final session.

Team GB's Robbie Kerr got back into the swing of things well after watching Oliver Jarvis' Beijing heroics but not even a last session flier could get him into the top three. However of the top four qualifiers only he and poleman Jani drove in the last A1 round at Sepang.

Team China's Frankie Cheng shook off his Beijing disappointment with a fine fifth place effort followed by Team Holland's Jeroen Bleekemolen and then home nation favourite Alex Yoong, who bucked the trend shown by the top six runners by setting his two fastest times in segments three and four.

Behind Yoong, South African teenager Adrian Zaugg, Team Canada returnee Sean McIntosh and Team France's Nicolas Lapierre rounded out the top ten with Lapierre struggling badly at a track where his nation triumphed last season.

Team USA's Phil Giebler will start Sunday's sprint race from eleventh place although had it not been for a session two altercation with Singapore's Christian Murchison that position could have been much higher while current points leaders Mexico will start 12th with driver Salvador Duran.

Of the rest, Ireland's Michael Devaney recovered well from failing to post a time in session one and will line-up 13th in his repaired car while Beijing feature race winner Enrico Toccacelo could only manage 20th fastest time in the Team Italy entry.

 

Comments

Loading Comments...