Neel Jani is aiming to celebrate his 23rd birthday in style this weekend, by claiming Team Switzerland's second victory of the 2006-07 A1GP season.

After twice finishing fifth in Indonesia earlier this year, the ex-GP2 star clocked the 11th-quickest time in opening practice today, following on from Sebastien Buemi's strong performance during the morning rookie session when the Formula 3 Euroseries ace lapped consistently inside the top six.

"I like the combination of slow, medium and quick corners," Jani commented afterwards. "At first I had to acclimatise myself again to the A1GP conditions - it's so different compared to the Champcar I drove in Houston earlier this week. The reactions are so different that I was wondering if the car had any grip here, but slowly I got back to grips with it again.

"We had a pretty normal working session taking advantage of the information gathered this morning by Sebastien. We've got to continue working towards the right set-ups for a good qualifying tomorrow on the challenging and technical track. It will be an interesting race."

Team Switzerland finished as runner-up in the nations' standings in the series' inaugural campaign from 2005-06. Although it is currently lying only ninth in the title chase, the squad did receive a boost with Jani's return in Beijing, since when he has notched up a win and fourth place last time out in Sepang.

What's more, the Indonesian weekend is set to be a spectacular event with plenty of spectator support. Led by local star Ananda Mikola, children from Citaringgul School in Bogor, West Java visited the track on the first day with engraved balloons and paid a visit to Jani where they sang him happy birthday.

The Swiss team also announced that rookie driver Marcel Fassler and his wife Isabelle are celebrating the birth of their third daughter.

 

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