The all-conquering French team decided to let someone else have a shot at glory as the A1 Grand Prix weekend kicked off on the new Durban street circuit, with Indonesia's Ananda Mikola quick to take advantage.

The new Asian F3 champion took just ten tours of the seaside circuit, but posted a time good enough to keep his white Lola comfortably in front of the baying pack. Mikola's 1min 28.477secs effort came early in the day, but proved 0.156secs better than anyone else could manage.

Italian rookie Max Busnelli came closest of all on his debut, but had to watch for the more experienced Alvaro Parente, who pushed the Portuguese car close to second spot. Just 0.084secs split second and third, but the two Europeans enjoyed a half-second advantage over fourth-placed Robbie Kerr, who put Team GB into fourth, just ahead of a late challenge from Jos Verstappen's orange Team Netherlands car.

All this time, Alex Premat was keeping his powder dry - although there was no repeat of Thursday's heavy downpours in the South African capital. The Frenchman was joined on the sidelines by closest title rival Neel Jani for most of the session, before Team Switzerland cracked and sent the silver Lola out into the fray. Jani completed just five laps, good enough only for 17th, but should be able to raise his game when the action resumes.

Team Canada was the only other team to eschew track time, allowing Australia, hosts South Africa, Mexico, Brazil and the surprising Mathias Lauda, for Austria, to round out the top ten.

 

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