Nelson Piquet Jr made a solid start to the A1GP weekend at Estoril, as he finished inside the top five of both official practice sessions for the lastest round of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport.

Ahead of the weekend, the teams benefited from two extra forty-minute practice sessions which allowed a number of teams to run their second car for the first time. In very wet weather conditions, reserve driver Tuka Rocha took the wheel for the first of these sessions to shake down the car. He was only able to complete nine laps due to a red flag and preparation work that needed to be done to the car, but still finished 14th in the standings on his first outing in the A1 car.

"It was great to drive the car this morning," he said. "I did a shakedown on the new car and then bedded in the brakes. Because we were working on this and also there was a red flag I didn't get to do too many laps but I hope I did a good job for the team and I am happy I got the chance to drive."

Piquet Jr took over driving duties for the second session, during which he completed 14 laps and recorded the fastest time, more than half a second quicker than second-placed Portugal before the teams prepared from the two official sessions.

Piquet was immediately on the pace, and topped the timesheets from 15 minutes into the first session until the half-way mark, before he eventually wound up fifth. After delay for heavy rain, Piquet then went on to set the second quickest time in free practice two.

"It was good overall although it was not easy to set-up the car today," he said. "The track was always changing, whether it was drying out or getting wetter, and that makes it difficult. We also had a lot of red flags that interrupted the sessions. I am learning a few thing on the car for the rain and I think we need to work a bit tonight and see tomorrow if we have a dry session."

Team principal Emerson Fittipaldi said he was pleased with the opening showing from the team and said he was confident for Saturday's qualifying session.

"I am very happy with today because we have been consistently in the top three," he said. "I always think it is important to be consistent in different conditions and we have had everything today, dry, wet and intermediate wet conditions and have remained fast. Nelson has been very good, especially as he has not raced here before. It's all looking good for qualifying tomorrow. They say it will be dry for the afternoon, but who knows what will happen!"



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