A1 Team Netherlands set the pace in the second of Friday's two free practice sessions in South Africa as round seven of the 2007/08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport season got underway around the streets of Durban in hot and humid weather conditions.

Jeroen Bleekemolen recorded the best lap time of the day, a 1 minute 18.738 seconds, around the 3.28 km circuit, just over half a second off Brazil's lap record.

"It was a lot of fun to drive here. I love street circuits so it's been going really well. I won last year in Monaco with the Porsche Supercup and I won with A1GP in Beijing so I just like racing on these tracks," said Jeroen.

"We have been struggling a lot with the car the last few races and it's going much better on street circuits, as it did in the past with Jos Verstaapen, so I think we have a much better set up for that and it looks like we have a good chance for this weekend. We just need to work on the normal circuit set up."

Germany's Michael Ammerm?ller, who was an impressive 1.3 seconds quicker than the rest of the field at the end of the rookie practice session this morning, meanwhile clocked the second fastest time of the day.

"The technicians from David Sears Motorsport worked on the mechanical set-up," Ammerm?ller summarised. "The direction in which we worked before lunch was very good. We reduced a tendency to oversteer and improved the traction. We tried something different in the afternoon, but then went back to the set-up that we'd used this morning."

Great Britain's Oliver Jarvis, who hasn't driven an A1GP car since December 2007, and USA's Jonathan Summerton were on good form this afternoon, setting the third and fifth fastest lap times. This was particularly impressive as both nations did not have the benefit of this morning's rookie session. Switzerland's Neel Jani was sandwiched between GBR and USA in fourth.

"I think it was a very productive session. We were steady at the start and made good progress throughout to finish P3," said Jarvis.

"It's obviously not exactly where we wanted to be, but we've got Germany in front who did the rookie session, and the Netherlands who raced here last year. So if we can keep progressing at the rate we are then I'm sure we'll be in good shape for qualifying."

Home nation South Africa's Adrian Zaugg pleased his local fans by setting the sixth fastest time of the day despite limited track time, closely followed by Australia's John Martin in seventh.

"We had problems with rebalancing the tyres today so we just tried to do one lap at the end which wasn't too bad under the circumstances, so we're looking alright," explained Zaugg.

"It's very competitive and A1GP is getting more and more competitive with each season and I think the times will stay pretty close all weekend. I'm pretty confident - we'll see after qualifying on Saturday afternoon but I think we should be in good shape."

Title leaders A1 Team New Zealand and France had a tough time around the streets of Durban, finishing the session 11th and 15th respectively.

Canada's Robert Wickens also had a difficult day and only managed 10 minutes of track time and completed four laps in this afternoon's session, as the team had to repair damage sustained to the car during this morning's rookie session, when new boy Daniel Morad, the youngest driver to sign-on this season, was behind the wheel.

With concrete walls surrounding the perimeter of the tight and twisty street circuit, some of the teams and drivers ran into trouble with session-stopping incidents. A1 Team Mexico's David Garza had a big accident this morning, hitting the wall as he exited turn six. Garza was unhurt but the car was so badly damaged that the Mexican team had to sit out the second session and spend the afternoon setting up one of A1GP's spare cars for qualifying.

On Saturday morning there will be a final free practice session, with qualifying, even more important on a street circuit, starting at 14.15 hours local time.

 

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