In his first event in an A1 Grand Prix car, Darren Manning very nearly landed pole position for the season finale in China, but admits to making a small error that ultimately saw Alex Yoong steal top spot for Malaysia.

Manning, standing in the for the World Series-bound Robbie Kerr, was on a charge right from the start of qualifying, taking eight-tenths of a second out of the competition on his first run. He maintained provisional pole for the next two sessions without improving his best time, but Yoong stole in to pip him with a rapid lap of his own in part four. Manning improved his time on his final run, but the aggregate system favoured Yoong, who posted two laps under the 1min 52secs barrier.

"I thought it was all over after I was quickest in the first session, but this qualifying system is different, and it isn't over until the last car crosses the line," Manning admitted, "The car was good, although I would have liked to make some changes in the qualifying session. But it's difficult when you're fast and you're trying to hold onto a pole rather than challenging.

"We left the car the same throughout the session, and I think I probably could have just nipped Alex on that last run, but I didn't quite put the perfect lap together. I made a small mistake just before the back straight, and lost too much speed. The back straight is very long here and I lost a lot of time. Without that, I think I would have been even closer to him.

"However, it's still a really good result for Team Great Britain. I'm happy with the front row, and I can race from there. We wanted to be in a position that we could win the race from, so I think we should be alright."

Despite his optimism, Manning admitted that there were still some hurdles to be overcome.

"I haven't done a standing start for a quite a while because I've been racing in America, but I've been practicing and it's been going well," he revealed, "Rolling starts should be fine - and especially restarts - because I'm used to them. Hopefully, when that green flag drops in the sprint race, I can get in front pretty early."

 

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