Whilst admitting overtaking opportunities could be at a premium around the Zhuhai International Circuit this weekend, Lo?c Duval is nevertheless hopeful of picking up places as he believes the new-to-A1GP track could catch out the unwary come the races.

The French outfit did not do a lot of running on Friday, and so took advantage of Saturday morning's free practice session to make up some of the time lost and fine-tune its settings, with Duval proving immediately on the pace by leaping to the top of the timesheets.

Unfortunately, the 25-year-old would subsequently find himself hampered by a lack of grip in the first part of qualifying on new tyres, leaving him down in seventh spot on the grid, but a slight modification to the car's set-up between sessions hoisted the Japanese-domiciled ace up into fourth position for the feature race - and in with a great shout of picking up France's fourth podium of the 2007/08 campaign.

"The car's balance was good today," Duval confirmed, "although we were unable to get the best out of the new tyres in qualifying. It's rather disappointing as we could have done better, but nonetheless we're optimistic. We improved the set-up between the two sessions, and the car's handling was much better by the end of qualifying. What's more, our pace on worn tyres is very good.

"Our aim will be to score a few points in the first race and then aim for the rostrum in the feature event. Overtaking will be difficult as the track is very dirty off-line, but I think there'll be quite a few driver errors and we'll try and take advantage of them."

Sporting director Olivier Panis echoed his driver's comments, as inaugural A1GP champions France bid to close the gap on championship leaders Switzerland, who currently lie eight points clear in the nations' title chase, and for whom Neel Jani will begin both races from the front row of the grid.

"We were hoping for better things today," the former grand prix winner candidly admitted. "Given our performance yesterday and Lo?c's first place this morning, we reckoned a front row position in qualifying was on the cards. Unfortunately, the grip level was not what he anticipated when he put on new tyres.

"We're starting from a bit further back on the grid than we expected, but our pace on worn rubber means we will be lapping quickly in the race. We're confident for tomorrow."

 

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