Loic Duval re-confirmed his status as the form man of the weekend during A1GP's visit to Taupo in New Zealand for round five of the 2007/08 nation vs nation campaign, by vaulting to pole position for the feature race to keep France's growing championship challenge firmly on-track.

Having led the way for the majority of practice despite being unable to run during the rookie session, Duval went on to line up third for the sprint race before blowing the opposition out of the water in qualifying for the longer feature outing, seeing off Germany's Christian Vietoris by the narrow margin of three hundredths of a second.

"The first part of qualifying was ok because I was first in the first segment," the 25-year-old from Chartres commented, "but the set-up of the car wasn't really as good as this morning. It was quite difficult to find a good set-up, which is why I just took pole for the feature race.

"The average of today is not too bad though - first and third - and at the end of the weekend the most important thing is the number of points we can score."

The teams continued to play a waiting game due to the dusty track surface, finally taking to the circuit with just over two minutes of the final qualifying segment remaining. If Duval read the conditions best, Vietoris was not far off, backing up his fourth position on the sprint race grid with a strong run to secure the outside front row slot for the feature, as he bids to emulate the success of compatriot Michael Ammermuller who finally ended reigning series champions' Germany's long victory drought last time out in Zhuhai.

"It is a big problem," the 18-year-old remarked of the conditions, "because you don't know what to expect at the next corner. Today it was ok, but yesterday it was a lot worse and nearly everybody went off the track at some point."

Current championship leader Neel Jani for Team Switzerland improved considerably on his sprint race qualifying effort to seal third on the grid, closely followed by Canada's Robert Wickens. Home favourite and sprint race pole-sitter Jonny Reid took fifth behind the wheel of Black Beauty, with Portugal's Joao Urbano producing a superb effort to round out the top half dozen.

The leading ten contenders were completed by sprint race front row man Adrian Zaugg for South Africa, the Netherlands' Jeroen Bleekemolen, Robbie Kerr leaping up four positions in the Great Britain entry and the USA's Jonathan Summerton in the 'We The People' car.

Sunday's sprint race will begin at 11am local time, with the 70-minute feature event due to get underway at 3pm.

 

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