A1 Team South Africa secured the early bragging rights ahead of the new season after setting the pace during the opening day of pre-season testing at Silverstone yesterday [Tuesday].

Adrian Zaugg posted the quickest lap of the day for the South Africans but also knocked two thousandths of a second off the lap record for an A1GP car at the Northamptonshire circuit.

Nicolas Lapierre, who won a total of six races in the series opening season that was won by A1 Team France was second quickest. However, in this team it was a story of the old and the new - with Nicolas Prost having his first outing in the car watched by father Alain. Having impressed during the session, Prost Jr will now act as rookie driver for the French team this season.

At the end of day one of a two day test, which saw all 22 A1GP teams starting their preparations for the 2007/08 season, the other teams at the top of the time sheets were 'locals' A1 Team Great Britain and A1 Team Ireland. For Great Britain it was Oliver Jarvis at the wheel, having the distinction of giving the team its maiden victory in Mexico last year, while it was a newcomer to the series, Adam Carroll, who set the time for Ireland.

While South Africa was competitive in the morning, it was not until the dying minutes of the afternoon session that Zaugg was able to put in his quick lap.

"We were working on the car throughout the day," he said. "I thought we could be up there in the top six, as we were just concentrating on the set-up and trying to improve from run to run. Then we fitted new tyres, tried a few laps and this was a pretty good start. Our rookie, Wesleigh Orr, has quite a lot less experience so we gave him as much running as we could."

Having lost the title to Germany for season two, season three is where France plan to get back on top.

"We did a good job today and it is better to be up here than at the back, but this is just a testing session," Lapierre said. "We are just working out the set-up for the races and giving some more experience to the young drivers to get ready for the first race as well. Both of our young drivers are doing Formula 3, so it is a big jump to come here. I help them as much as I can because at the end it is a team job so it is better if they are fast. I think the team is a bit better than last year, they are pushing hard and want to get the title back."

Although slightly disappointed not to finish up on top, home driver Jarvis admitted it was important to look at the bigger picture.

"When I set the time I realised it probably was not quick enough, as I expected the track to maybe get a little bit quicker," he said. "Unfortunately I had a bit of traffic in sector three, but I think probably every driver out there can say the same thing. We are happy with the day. Oliver Turvey, our rookie driver, drove the car in the morning. We worked with him a bit, and in the afternoon I took over. I think we made some progress in the afternoon and the test is a good gauge for the rest of the season.

"It is important to work towards Zandvoort and try and find a good set-up. I don't think being top of the times is all important, but it is nice to be up the front. It is nice to be in the top three, but I think tomorrow will be a different day altogether. I think it will be much stronger so if we end up at the top of the times tomorrow I shall be a much happier person."



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