Neel Jani put Switzerland to the fore in the second free practice session for this weekend's A1GP curtain-raiser in Zandvoort, but Loic Duval kept the French entry well in the frame by lapping second-fastest as Canada suffered a heavy 'off'.

As rain clouds continued to dominate the skies over the Dutch circuit, times were only marginally quicker than in the first session, with Jani's best of 1m 45.090s still some 15 seconds shy of last year's lap record set in dry conditions. Particularly impressive is the fact the former GP2 front-runner had never competed at the sand dune-surrounded circuit prior to this weekend.

"It was a good session," the double A1GP winner confirmed. "We tried a lot of things and obviously it's my first time running at Zandvoort, so I'm still learning the track a bit. The car is not running bad but I think it will be very hard to get it together for this one lap if it's wet in qualifying, so a lot of it will come down to luck today."

Duval ended free practice just under four tenths of a second adrift, with Christian Vietoris maintaining his third position from the earlier session, though a further four tenths in arrears as the times remained rather spread out due to the inclement conditions.

"It's going well for the moment," commented Duval, "but we will see this afternoon if the track conditions are different. I did the rookie session here last year and I've done some Formula 3 races here too - it's a nice track but I would have preferred dry conditions obviously."

"It was quite a good morning for us," added Vietoris, "and we tried a few things. I'm quite happy now and looking forward to qualifying which won't be so easy in the rain, but I hope we can get on the front row."

Salvador Duran was another driver to confirm his earlier pace by lapping fourth-fastest for Team Mexico, with former GP2 star Adrian Zaugg - returning for the first time to the scene of his and South Africa's maiden A1GP success - fifth ahead of home favourite Jeroen Bleekemolen.

"I'm really happy to come back to A1GP and to be at the front," enthused Duran, "and I hope we can be quick in qualifying as well. I'm really excited because I was having some bad races in World Series, but I really expect to do well this weekend. The track conditions are pretty difficult but I'm looking forward to this afternoon."

There were further incidents as drivers came a cropper on the treacherous surface, and the session was red-flagged twice, the first time after Erik Janis' Czech Republic entry spun going into the Hogenholtz corner and the second for a spectacular-looking accident which befell Team Canada's James Hinchcliffe.

The 20-year-old hit a wet patch on the inside of turn four and understeered off-piste and over the grass about ten minutes into the session. As he crossed the grass he hit an access road, which launched him briefly up into the air. Upon landing he then spun backwards into the barrier.

However, the Champ Car Atlantic ace insisted the accident had looked far worse than it actually was, and was confident the necessary repairs would be made before qualifying this afternoon.

"The car had a lot of understeer when I went into the corner," he explained, "but it was my mistake and it got loose. I chose to take to the grass but I didn't see the access road and I got airborne.

"It was a bit of a hit before it landed, but it wasn't as bad as it looked - I came back unscathed. It was just a shame to create some extra work for all these Canada boys, but they will get it fixed, no problem. The car isn't too bad considering what it looked like; we'll be back on-track for this afternoon."

 

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