Adam Carroll catapulted Ireland to the top of the timesheets ahead of A1GP's inaugural visit to Zhuhai, by blitzing the opposition in second practice to give his rivals quite a bit to think about before they head into qualifying on Saturday.

The series rookie - and GP2 race-winner - wound up almost a full half second clear of the equally impressive Robert Wickens, the young Ontarian clearly keen to build on the momentum garnered from both his and Canada's maiden rostrum finish in the nation vs nation championship last time out in Malaysia.

"Obviously it was only practice," remarked Carroll, whose third place in Brno has helped push the emerald green car up to seventh spot in the nations' title chase, "but it was a good way to start the weekend. We got a pretty good lap on new rubber, but I'm sure everyone's going to catch up tomorrow. I'm hoping we can carry the pace all the way through the weekend and get up the front and stay there.

"I've had some major issues with my seat and we've had to make seven so far. I find it quite hard to get comfortable in the car, but now I can really concentrate on driving the car rather than being in pain, so it should make a lot of difference."

Carroll had lapped fifth-quickest in the morning rookie-only session, behind defending champions' Germany's pace-setting Michael Ammermuller, Wickens, Brazilian Sergio Jimenez and Great Britain's Danny Watts, with the top twelve contenders all covered within the same second on the timing screens as they discovered the Zhuhai International Circuit for the first time in an A1GP machine.

"It's quite difficult to make a lot of time up in the high-speed corners," commented Ammermuller, who would end the day third overall, narrowly ahead of Dutch ace Jeroen Bleekemolen. "You just need to focus on late braking and getting on the power as early as possible on the exit to make sure you get a perfect lap.

"There are no big secrets at any of the corners. The track was getting quite dusty and dirty in the afternoon as some of the drivers spun off so the conditions were getting worse; that's why nobody was able to improve on the earlier times."

One driver not eligible for the morning rookie session, but on fine form in the afternoon, was home hero CongFu Cheng, who last drove at Zhuhai in 2002 in a Chinese Formula Renault outing. The 23-year-old ended up fifth-fastest, nine hundredths of a second clear of France's Loic Duval, who spun off halfway through the second hour.

"We were obviously at a bit of a disadvantage not being able to do any running in the rookie session this morning," Cheng acknowledged, "but we worked through the programme this afternoon and it worked out ok. There is quite a lot of pressure as it's my home event and I haven't raced here for seven years so I'm pleased to be on the pace today, but I'm sure everybody will catch up by tomorrow."

Narain Karthikeyan (India), Satrio Hermanto (Indonsia), Jimenez and Kiwi Jonny Reid rounded out the top ten.



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