He may be competing in the A1 Grand Prix Championship for the first time and making his debut at the Shanghai circuit in China, but Darren Manning showed no signs of inexperience on the way to second fastest time in practice.

Without a championship drive since he was dropped from the Indy Racing League in 2005, Manning replaces Robbie Kerr for the final round of the championship and immediately established his place among the frontrunners with seventh fastest in the first session, despite having not driven the car in anger before.

The second session saw him improve even further by topping the timesheets for the majority of the hour before Team France's Nicholas Lapierre pipped him in the closing minutes, albeit by just a tenth.

Manning was delighted to have proved quick from the off. "It was good," he said. "I got up to speed pretty fast. Just changing a few things from Robbie's style of driving like brake balances. He probably drives a bit differently to how I drive. I was just getting used to the track and the car and how to brake, how to brake with the car into turns, how to put the power down and how much grip it's got at the end of the day.

"In the second session we changed a few things and got faster. The track's very nice - multiple lines through a lot of corners and a good mix of high and low speed corners and complexes. Racing should be good!"

John Surtees was also encouraged by his new signing. "The track here is one that requires a delicate balance between mechanical and aerodynamic grip with the fast straight and Darren's Indycar experience played a part in refining that this afternoon.

"His feedback on the car echoes Robbie's and we made more progress today bringing the car closer to Darren. I think he put in an extremely good performance and also importantly he enjoyed himself."

 

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