Team Netherlands set the pace in free practice ahead of the new A1GP season, with Jeroen Bleekemolen smashing the lap record as the Powered by Ferrari era kicked off.

Bleekemolen posted a time of 1min 25.387secs at the wheel of the bright orange car to finish ahead of Swiss driver Neel Jani, who was appearing in the car for the first time after the defending champions secured a car at the eleventh hour to allow them to race in the opening rounds. Adam Carroll took third for Ireland ahead of American Charlie Kimball.

The day started dry, with Clivio Piccione becoming the first driver to hit the track for the new Team Monaco entry. However, half an hour into the session, a sudden downpour left teams to return to the garages before cars started to head back on track to evaluate the conditions.

It wasn't long before the session was stopped when John Martin went off into the barriers in the Team Australia car, with a second red flag following when Team Korea's Jin-Woo Hwang beached his car in the gravel.

When conditions were wet, Italian Fabio Onidi led the way, nearly two seconds quicker than anyone else but when the circuit dried, it was Bleekemolen who jumped to the head of the field.

"It went really well, we had dry running as well as running in the wet," he said. "We were fastest in the dry and second fastest in the wet so we are looking good."

Jani was second while Carroll was third despite an encounter with the local wildlife.

"I was on my out lap when I noticed a fox at the side of the circuit, he didn't seem too bothered about the cars as he strolled out into the middle of the circuit so I had to chase him off, which was quite interesting!" he said. "But it was good. We got a few laps in the dry to get our eye in so we didn't really push too much as we wanted to get a few for the circuit. It then started raining quite heavily but once we got the wet tyres on the car was great. I really enjoyed that session in the wet and the balance felt good."

Behind Carroll and Kimball, Fairuz Fauzy was fifth, with Piccione rounding out the top six.

With their cars only arriving at the circuit this morning, Brazil, China, France and Portugal failed to set a time as they work on preparing their cars for qualifying.



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