Neel Jani is confident he is still on course to resister at least one victory in Taupo this weekend, despite a rare error in qualifying that has left him outside the top ten on the starting grid for the sprint outing.

Team Switzerland currently head the championship standings by 19 points, but they will have their work cut out on race day if they are to preserve or even extend that advantage. Although Jani will begin third in the longer feature encounter, his two chief rivals, New Zealand and France, recorded a pole position apiece. The pressure, he acknowledged, is on.

"I made a huge mistake in turn one," the 24-year-old four-time A1GP race-winner admitted, "and lost a second in the first sector. It was basically a mistake from me - I just braked too late and it cost me everything. I pushed hard and it was just too much.

"Afterwards I just thought that I should have gone slower and I would have been fourth or fifth on the grid for sure and been happier, but then to still qualify third for the sprint race I got my head out of the sling.

"In race one it is about damage limitation and doing as well as we can, but we can attack for the feature race and go for the win. We have a big chance of that with the length of the race and the pit-stops."

Indeed, the Swiss outfit can take positives away from the fact that Jani had been on the leading pace throughout practice, comfortably setting the fourth-quickest time in the final session in the run-up to qualifying despite suffering a technical problem.

"By the time of the third practice, our tyre problems from yesterday had being identified and I was able to fight," the former GP2 and Champ Car ace confirmed. "We had three trips into the gravel - which is quite unusual for us - but between the strong winds and some set-up choices that didn't work, we managed to get it together. It is really easy to make mistakes on this track; there are heavy winds and it makes how much grip you find in the corners unpredictable.

"It looks like we have found the right balance on this challenging track, and I am convinced that the long feature race will be interesting and challenging for everyone and that something good can come out of it even with our starting positions."

"Neel had a few problems with the set-up in the third session," underlined team principal Max Welti, "but we have identified the problem from yesterday. It was a faulty oval rim that disrupted our work at the track. We need a good start and no mistakes for both races on this challenging track, in order to find a good pace for the two races and to finish in a good position."

 

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