Loic Duval proved he is a fast learner after he dominated proceedings during practice for round eight of the A1 Grand Prix Championship, Team France topping all three of the day's sessions, although concerns have since been made about the state of the circuit.

Making the most of his rookie status, Duval overcame a myriad of red flag periods - including one following an incident between himself and Karl Reindler -, to finish five tenths up on Richard Lyons, the Irishman coming to the fore in the third session of the day.

"This morning I spent learning the track and this afternoon unfortunately we had some mechanical problems at the beginning and many red flags, but the car is quite good," he said. "I didn't do a really, really good lap but the time looks fine so it was okay.

"Now we have to take care about the German, South African and New Zealand teams, but everything is all right. Durban looks a really nice track and it was good fun to drive today."

The final session however was ended early after kerbs at one of the chicanes began lifting up and affecting the low-slung single-seaters as they powered round the tricky South African street circuit. Organisers however are confident the issues, which were blamed on support racers clipping and lifting them up, will be resolved ahead of qualifying.

Nico Hulkenberg took Germany to third fastest, the championship leaders barely suffering from the lack of a rookie driver to provide additional data, while the teenager seemed hardly flustered by his lack of experience around the specialist circuit.

Even better for the nation, Germany's nearest championship rivals, New Zealand, endured a tough day, the decision to drop Jonny Reid in favour of Matt Halliday so far failing to pay dividends as they languish down in 13th place.

Fourth, fifth and sixth were occupied by regular front runners Czech Republic, Netherlands and Switzerland, Neel Jani returning to the latter seat after injuring his hand ahead of the previous round in Eastern Creek.

Ananda Mikola was an impressive seventh fastest for Indonesia, just ahead of Narain Karthikeyan, who marked his return to the Indian seat with eighth fastest, even if he had been the closest competition for France for the majority of the day.

Eastern Creek hero Ho-Pin Tung was ninth fastest for China having also starred in the rookie sessions, while Adrian Zaugg's tenth fastest time disguised the fact the South African had only a day before been on the other side of the world testing for Arden International during GP2 testing in France.

Elsewhere, Bruno Junqueira made his debut for Brazil to set the eleventh fastest time, just ahead of Alvaro Parente who was allowed extra running in light of Portugal's return to competition this weekend.

Further back, Malaysia, Mexico, Canada and Great Britain were surprisingly off the pace, Alex Yoong, Salvador Duran, James Hinchcliffe and Robbie Kerr all down in 14th, 18th, 19th and 21st respectively, behind newcomers Jonathan Summerton for USA in 15th and even Lebanon's Allam Khodir in 20th.



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