Neel Jani put Switzerland back in the driving seat for the 2007/08 A1GP crown by claiming pole position for the feature race in Durban, as title rivals France and South Africa once again suffered with distinctly below-par performances.

Jani, who just pipped Great Britain's Oliver Jarvis to take provisional pole in the third qualifying segment, bettered his time again in Q4 to secure the top spot for the 70-minute outing. The result marked the 24-year-old's fourth pole of the campaign for the Swiss squad, and with the destiny of the title hanging in the balance as the World Cup of Motorsport races towards its final rounds, he knows it could not have come at a more significant moment.

"It was a tough qualifying session," the former GP2 race-winner acknowledged after adding pole to his fifth spot for the shorter sprint race. "Missing the first segment because of the red flags, I really had to push in the second one for the sprint grid.

"Adrian [Zaugg - South Africa] spun in front of me and I didn't know where to go, so I had to brake to avoid him which cost me a lot of time. I'm still fifth, though, so I'm happy with that. Then in segments three and four I was quickest and we improved the car a little bit, but I had to really push a lot and it was still very close at the end."

The man who forced Jani to push so hard was earlier sprint qualifying star Robert Wickens, who secured his second front row starting slot of the weekend in the Canadian entry, with New Zealand's Jonny Reid and Jarvis repeating their Q1 and Q2 feat to annex the second row of the grid. Jarvis became the first driver to break the Durban lap record, whilst Reid's showing was particularly impressive given he had never raced on a street circuit prior to this weekend.

Sprint race front row man Bruno Junqueira took fifth place for Brazil, ahead of the Netherlands' Jeroen Bleekemolen, Germany's Michael Ammerm?ller and France's Loic Duval, who again failed to trouble the front-runners as France endeavours to pull out all the stops in a bid to preserve its title hopes. Promising Portuguese rookie Filipe Albuquerque and Australian John Martin complete the top ten.

For fans' favourite Adrian Zaugg, though, there was only further ill-fortune. Following on from the South African's spin that consigned him to the rear of the pack for the sprint race, traffic then hampered his feature qualifying efforts, leaving the 21-year-old an unrepresentative and frustrated 15th on the grid in front of his home crowd.

"We were one of the teams to get caught out at the third turn in the second segment," Zaugg reflected ruefully. "I don't know what changed, but for sure it was more slippery out there than it had been in free practice, and then in the third segment I got held up by New Zealand I think.

"I wanted to push for it in the last segment, but we had a problem with the pick-up of the engine so we didn't even go for a lap. I think it will be difficult to improve or even get points in the sprint race, but definitely in the feature I think we should be able to get some points."

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

 

Comments

Loading Comments...