Just one week after the 2006-2007 A1 Grand Prix season opener at Zandvoort the World Cup of Motorsport moved on to the Brno circuit in the Czech Republic for arguably the biggest single seater race in the history of the circuit.

Despite being totally different in heritage, character, layout and style to the coastal Dutch track the undulating 3.36-mile Brno circuit is another of Europe's non F1 gems, its multitude of long radius and invitingly wide turns surely pointing to another pair of cracking races on Sunday.

Sadly, unlike their Dutch counterparts, the Czech fans didn't turn out in great numbers to watch their nations' number one driver Tomas Enge qualify their national entry and the imposing grass banking were worryingly empty despite the fair autumnal weather.

One nation not concerned with the almost complete lack of spectators was New Zealand, who watched their driver Jonny Reid not only obliterate the Brno track record but also sweep all four official qualifying segments en-route to a popular and unexpected pole position.

Reid, who assumed driving duties for the New Zealand entry thanks to Zandvoort driver Matt Halliday's participation in this weekend's Bathurst 1000 touring car race in Australia, was faultless in all four 15 minute sessions, timing each one of his four flying laps perfectly and taking pole position for Sunday's ten lap sprint race by more than half a second.

It was Reid's times from segments three and four that would eventually count towards his grid position and while he could easily have rested on his laurels going into the final session, a 1min 45.013secs outright track record was eventually required by the Kiwi driver in order to secure top spot.

Reid's hand was forced by the sensational Team Germany driver Nico Hulkenberg who was second quickest in the three sessions in which he participated in and turned his own record lap of 1:45.025secs on his final flying lap with three minutes to go.

Although Hulkenberg's record would only stand for some 90 seconds Team Germany will be more than satisfied with an outside front row starting spot as they look to build on their early season points lead.

Disappointingly for the other 21 nations, David Sears' Supernova team, which runs the Germany and New Zealand entries, seems to have the secrets of the sweeping Brno circuit worked out. With Reid's aggregate qualifying advantage over Hulkenberg standing at half a second, the third placed nation, Team Malaysia with driver Alex Yoong, was a further half a second back.

Yoong, one of the most celebrated drivers in the series this year, has a point to prove against A1 GP's new crop of talent but could only manage third fastest time in each of the three sessions he competed in. Like Reid and Hulkenberg Yoong saved his two sets of fresh tyres for the final two segments and, also like Reid and Hulkenberg, chose to sit out the second segment altogether. Fast starts and aggressive opening laps have been Yoongs' hallmark in A1 GP thus far and he will be looking for another fast getaway on Sunday morning.

Team Great Britain's Robbie Kerr finished the final session in fourth position overall, a further four tenths slower than Yoong on aggregate times. As they did in Zandvoort, John Surtees' team waiting until the final moments of qualifying before going out on their qualifying runs, meaning Kerr always had the theoretical best track conditions but even so, Kerr wasn't a factor until he put new tyres on and it was only his 1min 45.449secs effort in session four that moved Team GB into a respectable position.

However Great Britain's car was found to be slightly wider than permitted at the end of qualifying and Kerr's session four time was disallowed, a penalty that dropped Kerr from fourth to tenth on the grid.

Great Britain's loss was China's gain as Frankie Chen gave the Chinese entry its best ever qualifying position. Fourth fastest in sessions two and three and sixth quickest in session four Chen was a revelation throughout the day, comfortably outpacing far more luminous drivers and teams.

Another driver defying the odds was James Hinchcliffe, who not only ousted 2005-2006 Team Canada A1 pilot Sean McIntosh for the Canadian drive on Friday but also then proceeded to place the Maple Leaf entry in fifth position on the revised grid. Significantly for Hinchcliffe he will start one place ahead of Phil Giebler in the Team USA entry.

Tomas Enge will start seventh for the home nation, getting up to speed in the final two sessions in the so far un-cooperate Czech machine and the always quotable talent will be hoping that more of his large legion of fans come out to cheer him on during the races. A1 GP has already shown itself to be a hard judge of venues that fail to draw a crowd and Enge will want to do all he can to make Brno a permanent fixture on the A1 calendar.

Alongside the Czech Republic on row four for the sprint race will be defending champions Team France. Driver Nicolas Lapierre featured well in the first two sessions but then frustratingly faded when the DAMS team put fresh tyres on the tricolour entry for the final two sessions.

Team Switzerland's Sebastien Buemi will start alongside Great Britain on row five while two of the starring nations from Zandvoort, Team Mexico and Team Netherlands, will start a distant eleventh and twelfth with drivers Salvador Duran and Jeroen Bleekemolen.

Graham Rahal placed the Team Lebanon entry a highly respectable 13th on the grid with A1 returnee Stephen Simpson disappointed only to be 14th fastest in a Team South Africa entry that won last Sunday's sprint race in the hands of Adrian Zaugg.

Brazilian driver Tuka Rocha was 15th fastest overall followed by Team Indonesia's Ananda Mikola, Team Italy's Pier Guidi Alessandro and Team Ireland's Michael Devaney.

India, Australia, Greece, Singapore and Pakistan complete the grid in that order.

 

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