Robert Wickens picked up from where he left off by proving right on the leading pace in Chinese practice today, as Canada showed its Malaysian performance was no flash in the pan.

Fresh off the back of his rostrum finish on his A1GP racing debut at Sepang three weeks ago - a result that helped propel the Maple Leaf entry out of nowhere into twelfth spot in the nations' title chase - Wickens lapped second-quickest in both the morning rookie and afternoon sessions on the series' first visit to Zhuhai, despite a driveshaft issue and puncture meaning it was not the easiest of days for the 18-year-old.

"I think in general the results of day were ok," the Toronto native reflected. "The only problem is we never really got to work on the car on old tyres - which is crucial for the race - and in the official practice we had a puncture which put an early end to the day. It was frustrating because there was a half hour left in the session, but we'll figure it out.

"It's a little frustrating as we're an hour behind and potentially a set of tyres behind everybody else, but hopefully we can figure something out without wasting another set tomorrow. It's going to be tough, but the team will be able to rebound!"

Though Wickens lapped the 4.3km Zhuhai International Circuit less than a tenth shy of rookie pace-setter Michael Ammermuller early on, he would slip back to almost half a second adrift of Ireland's Adam Carroll in the afternoon after only managing to complete ten laps due to the puncture, but key team members remained unconcerned.

"We've hit the ground running," team manager Simon Cayzer asserted. "The starting set-up was pretty good and the work the team put in preparing for here has been good, but it was a day of mixed emotions really. We look quite good on the timing sheets but we've lost track time, so we still have quite a bit of work we'd like to get through and a couple of problems with the car we'd like to iron out.

"We need to be a little bit creative with our plan for tomorrow so we don't hurt ourselves in qualifying and our overall strategy for the weekend. We're feeling relatively confident as we had the benefit of running Robert in both sessions, though, so hopefully we're on target for a good result this weekend!"

"Robert did a great job under difficult circumstances, first with the driveshaft issue and then with the puncture during practice," added Mark Gallagher, whose Status Grand Prix operation runs both A1 Team Canada and A1 Team Ireland. "It's very satisfying to see Canada right up there with its stable mate Ireland; hopefully this bodes well for the rest of the weekend!"

 

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