Team Malaysia celebrated its first A1 Grand Prix pole position at the season finale in China, after Alex Yoong turned the four-part session on its head to overhaul pacesetter Darren Manning on his last lap.

After the team had continued preparations for the final two races of year with eighth place in the third free practice session, Yoong crept up on the Team GB driver before mugging him after the chequered flag had fallen at the Shanghai International Circuit.

While Manning used his new tyres early in the four sessions of qualifying, Yoong saved his two sets of fresh rubber for the third and final sessions. The Malaysian posted the second fastest time in the first segment of qualifying, and backed that up with a fourth fastest time in the second part. After the third segment, the best two times placed Malaysia second fastest, and the final flying lap proved better still, a 1min 51.846secs effort lifting Yoong in top spot.

"I'm delighted with our performance today," the driver said, "We've been on the pace every lap, every session and it's really a credit to everyone in our team for the efforts that they have put in to making A1 Team Malaysia the success that is has become.

"We made a couple of small improvements from yesterday, and it's been a great day for Team Malaysia. The team is brand new, and was only put together for A1GP, so it has been a big effort for a lot of people. This will mean a lot to the people in Malaysia, which, like China, does not have a motorsport background.

"Starting on the front row will give us a really good chance of a strong points finish and a podium finish is within our grasp too, so everything is looking good for tomorrow. I'm very happy and definitely looking forward to taking the green flag for the sprint race already."

Team principal Jack Cunningham was equally pleased the entire squad's hard work had been rewarded before the season was over.

"It's great to see the team reap the benefits of their strong work, determination and dedication," he said, "You can't get better than that in qualifying - it's very important to start from as far towards the front as possible tomorrow, and we couldn't get further forward than the number one spot!

"Alex has driven well in every session and proved his status as a top-class racing driver, but I want to pay tribute to the whole technical team of A1 Team Malaysia who must take the credit for this result - from our technical director and chief engineer to our mechanics and our driver. They have worked very very well together.

"However, we must keep our feet on the ground. We will enjoy the next few hours as we take in the importance of this result, but then we will get down to the hard work of preparing to build on this pole position for a strong performance tomorrow."

 

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