New Zealand and Great Britain led the way in practice as A1GP makes its Mexico City bow this weekend, but with less than a second covering the top 14 competitors at the end of the opening day, the action looks set to be fast and furious.

Following Matt Halliday's outing in Durban, Jonny Reid reclaimed the wheel of the Kiwi entry in Mexico and the 23-year-old showed few signs of rustiness, clocking the fastest lap of the day in the closing minutes of practice session two.

"We just went out casually going through our normal programme making sure everything was right for the race," he commented afterwards. "Then we got on with the job and realised the car was not quite on the pace. We just tuned in and sorted the problem and got P1 - we were pretty pleased about that.

"The circuit is very challenging, especially in the final turn as there is no margin for error. You have to compromise entry speed and exit speed there. The final turn is a lot like the Parabolica at Monza, and that is a similar corner which I have driven before so I enjoy that.

"Also I think the S complex is very challenging with the high kerbs, as it is all about where you place the car. The bumps are another challenge, so it is all about positioning the car, getting the power down and putting a lap together."

The morning pace-setter, some six tenths of a second clear of any of his rivals, had been Team GB rookie ace Oliver Jarvis. The 23-year-old is appearing as the nominated race driver for the British squad for only the second time in his A1GP career, and is clearly intent on at least matching the runner-up spot he sealed in China at the end of last year.

"This was my first time at the circuit and also only the second time I shall be doing the whole weekend," remarked Jarvis, who will be competing in Japanese F3 for the crack TOM'S Toyota outfit in 2007. "I am looking forward to that. It is a fantastic track and I am delighted to be here.

"It is one of those circuits where you have got to get into the groove. It is flowing with a lot of corners that lead onto each other. It is quite bumpy and that does add another challenge. I will not say you can miss the bumps, but there are some better lines you can take through them to keep the car a little bit better settled.

"Fortunately I got to know the track well and made good progress in the rookie session. I made a few mistakes on the tyres but this was due to inexperience and I think we will be strong come qualifying. This is the first qualifying session for me, as we all missed out on this in Beijing, and hopefully I can do a strong job. I think we will have a good race pace and I think this is going to be a circuit where we probably can overtake as well."

The local Mexican entry, meanwhile, was piloted by rookie Sergio Perez in the morning session, and regular driver Salvador Duran in the afternoon. Both registered top ten times and are confident of a successful weekend.

"I am very optimistic about qualifying," stated Duran. "I had never been on the track before and I made a couple of mistakes at the end so I could have been a bit quicker. I don't think we will be on pole but I think we can be at the front - we have a good car; there are just a couple of small changes that we are already discussing. I think we are going to be okay so I am very happy."

"I really like being here at home and it is the first time I have driven here," added Perez. "All the support is incredible. It is a dream for me to be here. It was dirty this morning and it was only at the end that you could set a good time, but everybody was improving their times and I think it should be possible to improve our time too."

 

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