Team USA and Team Czech Republic will both have new faces in unfamiliar roles as the A1 Grand Prix Series rolls into South Africa this weekend, with Jonathan Summerton promoted to a race role for the former and Filip Salaquarda taking up rookie duties for the Europeans.

After a stellar performance in rookie practice at Eastern Creek last time out, Summerton will step into the cockpit more usually occupied by Phil Giebler this season, while F3000 Masters regular Salaquarda will make his debut in support of Czech favourite Tomas Enge as the series returns to the streets of Durban for its eighth round of the season.

Having already represented the USA as a rookie in both the Netherlands and the Czech Republic at the end of last season, Summerton made the most of a wet track in Australia to finish P1 in opening practice, posting the best time among and 18-car field that, despite being made up of 'rookies', included several regular race drivers. As a result of that performance, Rick Weidinger's team opted to run the youngster in all sessions in South Africa.

"We made the commitment to develop Jonathan during several A1GP races this season, and his performance in Australia showed that our investment in him has the potential to pay big dividends," Weidinger explained, "We are really excited about getting Jonathan in the car for the race in Durban. We are due for another podium finish and we hope to see Jonathan up there representing Team USA on Sunday."

Salaquarda, meanwhile, will make his A1GP debut in the weekend's opening rookie session, filling a seat previously occupied by the unavailable Jarek Janis, Jan Charouz and Tomas Kostka, while the Czech team understandably concentrates on Enge as race driver.

"We have drafted Filip in at the last moment because we did not want to miss the rookie session," team boss Antonin Charouz explained, "We changed the engine and other parts and they need to be run in. Lap times will not be our focus and we just want to give him an easy opportunity to sample the car because our other drivers - Jarek and Erik Janis, Jan Charouz and Tomas Kostka - are unfortunately not available this weekend for various other commitments.

"We are going to Durban in a positive frame of mind, as Tomas raced very well there last year and we believe that we are on the top of our qualifying problems. However, only the weekend itself will show if our adjustment was the right one."

 

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