Fans' favourite Great Britain dominated the opening day of practice for the final round of the 2006-07 A1GP campaign at Brands Hatch this weekend, as it seeks to become the first nation in the series' history to triumph on home soil.

Mexico feature race-winner Oliver Jarvis recorded the fastest lap of the day during the morning rookie session, more than a second-and-a-half beneath the existing circuit record and six tenths clear of closest rival Jonathan Summerton of Team USA.

"This morning we started on old tyres," the Japanese F3 ace commented. "Once I had done my duties the tyres were probably 25 laps old, so the time we did was very reasonable and very competitive. I think if we had done a bit more running in the second session we probably could have improved on that. Unfortunately I had to use another set of pads and the red flags ended the session early.

"Brands is very much like a street circuit in the sense that out the back if you make a mistake it is going to cost you - you are in the gravel or in the wall - so it is very difficult to find that limit and it is all about improving a little bit every lap and eventually the time will come."

Team-mate Robbie Kerr - who took his long-overdue and long-awaited maiden victory in A1GP in Shanghai two weeks ago - continued the squad's rich vein of form in the afternoon by maintaining a similar margin of dominance over second-placed India, represented by former grand prix star and current Williams test-driver Narain Karthikeyan. Unfortunately the session ended early for the ex-British F3 Champion after he took a trip into the gravel trap, unwittingly corroborating Jarvis' observations.

"We changed the car a little bit and we went back out there to try to see if it had improved," the 27-year-old remarked. "Unfortunately it went the other way and it just couldn't ride the bumps as well and sent the back around.

"It was quite good fun until we were in the gravel. It was a good session the whole way through and we had a good car from this morning. We tried a couple of things, some worked and some didn't and so we have just got to look at tomorrow, look at what is working and try to improve both driver and car. We will do that and then we will go quicker tomorrow."

Team GB seat holder Tony Clements was clearly pleased with the day's performance, and in a positive frame of mind heading into qualifying and the two races as the squad bids to wrest the eventual runner-up spot in the nations' standings away from New Zealand. Britain currently trails its Kiwi rival by 14 points, with 18 left to play for this weekend.

"We couldn't have gone into this session with a better record than we have had over the last three meetings," he said. "We had a second, a second, a first, a first and a second, and I think both the boys have demonstrated already that the car is set up well for Brands Hatch and they both know the track.

"Unless we have the sort of mishap we had at the inaugural race here, we are going to be up there and very competitive, and I think Robbie has demonstrated he is going to be knocking on the door."

Karthikyan, though, is determined to turn the tables on the British entry at a circuit he knows well.

"I did a lot of F3 races here," the Indian explained, "and I like the circuit. We still have to fine-tune the car a bit. We missed about 60 per cent of the second session because we had a puncture. Anyway Britain is very, very quick. I need to close the gap, but if we can do that we will be quick. The idea is to keep improving the car and I think we will be ok."

For the New Zealand entry, meanwhile, the day did not run quite so smoothly. The team missed the morning session as neither Jonny Reid nor Matt Halliday qualify as rookies, and its afternoon outing was cut short when the former hit the wall after coming off the track at Westfield, leaving the outfit down in an unrepresentative 20th position at the end of the day.

 

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