Danny Watts got behind the wheel of an A1GP machine in anger for the first time during rookie practice ahead of this weekend's Chinese outing in Zhuhai, and immediately impressed by lapping less than a tenth of a second shy of the leading pace.

The former Formula Renault UK Champion and British F3 and Porsche Carrera Cup race-winner may have piloted the A1GP biofuel-powered car in the off-season as part of the nation vs nation series' Think Greener Racing campaign, but this weekend marks his first truly competitive outing. The 27-year-old made sure he didn't disappoint by producing consistently fast lap times and excellent feedback for the British squad.

"Having only experienced the biofuel-powered development car for A1GP, for me it was a fantastic feeling to be a rookie driver for my own nation," Watts enthused. "Out on the circuit the car felt easy to drive and was consistent. There was one small area where we had to find a little bit more with the car, but overall it was competitive. Ultimately I'm pleased that I was inside the top four on my first outing."

There were rather more mixed fortunes for regular Team GB star Oliver Jarvis, who returned to the car for the afternoon session but could only manage the 13th-best time, more than a second adrift of the front-runners. No longer being eligible for the rookie session, the double race-winner was not able to get to grips with the new-to-A1GP circuit in the morning, putting him on the back foot later on as he was unable to make the most of the new tyres at the start of the session.

"It was a disappointing session," Jarvis admitted, "as P13 obviously isn't where we want to be. We had a few issues with the car, and though our old tyre pace towards the end of the session wasn't so bad, we really need to work on the car set-up on new tyres.

"We'll sit down, look at the data and keep working hard overnight to improve before tomorrow. However we've been in this position before in Zandvoort and we came out ok there with a win!"

"Danny did a fantastic job this morning," added team manager Katie Clements, "giving the team valuable feedback and putting in some consistently fast laps. In the second session, Olly was unable to make the most out of the new rubber at the start since he hadn't had the benefit of the earlier rookie session to learn the track, and unfortunately we experienced a few issues with the car throughout the session. However, the team will work through these and come back tomorrow with a confident approach ahead of qualifying."

 

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