Robert Wickens left the championship protagonists trailing in his wheeltracks as he remained cool in the Durban heat to become A1GP's youngest ever pole-sitter.

The 18-year-old Canadian rookie has already displayed flashes of brilliance during A1GP's third season, but his sprint race qualifying performance in South Africa must surely go down as his finest moment to-date, as he soaked up the pressure and stayed clam amidst all the drama to pip Brazil's Bruno Junqueira to the top of the pile by a mere 18 thousandths of a second.

The result was also a real fillip for a squad whose rookie driver Daniel Morad had crashed heavily during Friday practice, necessitating substantial repairs to the car.

"We had a really good run in qualifying," the Toronto native enthused of taking the maple leaf nation's maiden pole in the World Cup of Motorsport at its 57th attempt. "The car was really solid underneath me and I was able to put in a pretty good lap. It's Canada's best qualifying ever, so I'm excited to get them their first pole and their second front row start."

Junqueira produced an impressive improvement on his morning practice pace, when the Champ Car ace had lapped just 12th-fastest, to claim the outside front row starting spot on only his seventh start for A1 Team Brazil. Just behind, championship leader New Zealand's Jonny Reid - who brought out the red flags with an early spin, hampering a number of other drivers' efforts - and Great Britain's Oliver Jarvis locked out the second row of the grid.

Final practice pace-setter Neel Jani ultimately wound up just over three tenths of a second adrift of the outright pace in fifth, and is joined on row three by fellow title contender Germany, in the hands of Michael Ammerm?ller once more.

Fellow practice star Jeroen Bleekemolen ended up a solid seventh in the bright orange Dutch machine, with Malaysia's Fairuz Fauzy, Indian Narain Karthikeyan and Portuguese newcomer Filipe Albuquerque rounding out the top ten.

Teams missing from the front spots to which they are more usually accustomed included Ireland, for whom Adam Carroll cruised to a halt early on in the first qualifying segment with a fuel pump problem. Reid's spin shortly afterwards meant only six nations - Germany, India, Pakistan, Australia, Lebanon and Indonesia - succeeded in setting a time as the session was red-flagged with three minutes remaining. The start of the Q2 was subsequently slightly delayed to allow for the track to be cleared.

Carroll will consequently begin the sprint outing from plum last, whilst even unluckier was home hero and championship challenger South Africa's Adrian Zaugg, who pushed too hard and spun in turn three, meaning he failed to set a representative lap time.

Joint championship leader France is also well down the field in 17th spot, after Loic Duval - who flew in specially all the way from Japan for the meeting - was hindered by yellow flags

To see the sprint race qualifying times in full, click here

 

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