A1 Team Canada consultant John Surtees reported satisfaction with the performance of Canadian youngsters James Hinchcliffe and Kevin Lacroix after the pair tested at Pembrey earlier this week.

Neither had driven anything as powerful as the 500bhp A1GP car, which ran in Team GB colours as Surtees' two teams came together to run an evaluation for drivers for both countries, and neither had been to the quirky Pembrey circuit before, with Hinchcliffe describing the visually simple layout as a challenge.

Although Team Canada still includes 2005-06 pilots Sean McIntosh and Patrick Carpentier in its plans for the second A1 campaign, both 19-year old Hinchcliffe and 17-year old Lacroix turned laps in the hope of impressing enough to be considered for a race drive, or at least a place in the 'rookies only' practice session that will precede each race.

Champ Car Atlantic frontrunner Hinchcliffe ran both days of the test, while Lacroix ran on Tuesday having been given 24 hours to shake-off any jet-lag having flown to the UK directly from his Star Mazda race in Salt Lake City.

"We tried to keep the pressure off of both drivers but, obviously, the responsibility and pressure was there as they're naturally competitors," Surtees said, "Both James and Kevin acquitted themselves very well.

"James obviously had the benefit of running both days, while I wanted to ensure Kevin had time to rest before making the leap into the A1GP car. Considering Kevin's experience, however, he did a very good job learning both the car and the circuit. Everything was completely foreign to him, but I was impressed with his feel for the car from the very start.

"James immediately showed his competitiveness and I thought he performed very well over the two days. His feedback was impressive and he responded well to changes we made to the car to test his ability. Most importantly, though, both drivers enjoyed themselves and left with smiles on their faces!"

Hinchcliffe admitted that the step up in power over his regular mount had been the biggest adjustment to make, but said that he enjoyed the test.

"It was a bit of a tall order to come drive a new car at a track I'd never seen before, but the team put together a great schedule and their professionalism made my job a bit easier," he commented, "The biggest thing was definitely the increase in power over what I'm used to. That, coupled with the hard compound tyre, means you really have to work for a good lap time. Pembrey's quite a technical circuit, which presented its own challenges, but, ultimately, the A1GP car is a fun car to drive!"

Lacroix, meanwhile, appeared frustrated at having to sit out the first day, while Hinchcliffe shared the car with Team GB try-out Oliver Jarvis, and admitted that he wished he had had more seat time.

"I wish the day had been longer!" he sighed, "There was a lot to learn, but I had a good couple of sessions, putting in around 50 laps - though I would have liked even more.

"The car has 350bhp more than the Star Mazda I'm racing at present, so it was a big difference in power and challenging to carry through the corners. I really enjoyed the opportunity to work with the team and, hopefully, I can do it again."

 

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