Although their number one driver is currently unavailable to race for them in the A1 Grand Prix season opener at Zandvoort due to other racing commitments, Team Canada appear to have found an admirable replacement for Sean McIntosh after James Hinchcliffe topped free practice.

With McIntosh currently at Le Mans for the latest round of the World Series by Renault, Champ Car Atlantic driver Hinchcliffe wasted little time in pitching for a more permanent slot in the front running team by securing the fastest time of the day in testing around the Dutch circuit.

Benefiting from taking part in the two rookie sessions that preceded free practice, Hinchcliffe surged to the top of the timesheets once again, having already proved a surprise pace setter in the pre-season test at Silverstone in his first outing in the car, crucially quicker than last year's Sentul winner McIntosh.

Edging out the sister car of Darren Manning in the Team Great Britain entry, 19-year-old Hinchcliffe was delighted to have ended his first day as the driver to beat.

"The team did a phenomenal job today, they gave me a great race car and I'm just excited to be here racing for A1 Team Canada for the first time," he said. "Zandvoort's an awesome track and the number of fans here today for a Friday practice session is just incredible!

"I'm still learning little nuisances with the car and the track's still new to me but to get a car capable of going fastest on my competitive debut is a great testament to the team."

 

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