Canada just out of top ten
3 February 2007 – James Hinchcliffe bounced back from a frustrating Friday with A1 Team Canada to enjoy a more competitive qualifying run Saturday prior to Round 7 of the 2006-07 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport at the Eastern Creek International Raceway, Australia.
Making his debut at the 3.93km Sydney circuit this weekend, Hinchcliffe stuck 22 more laps under his belt in Saturday morning's final practice session, posting the 12th fastest lap time, before heading into the afternoon's four-lap qualifying shoot-out. Eighth quickest on his first run on fresh rubber, the 20-year-old from Toronto encouragingly backed that up with the sixth fastest time of the second session on used tires.
James' fastest lap, a 1m18.651s came on his third run, where he was again sixth fastest from the 22 competing nations, before setting his second best time on his final attempt, a 1m19.088s, both hot laps being produced on new tires. Posting an aggregate time of 2m37.739s, Hinchcliffe narrowly missed out on the top-ten for the first time in his rookie season, the Canadian placing 11th on the grid for Sunday morning's 20-minute Sprint race, the results of which then determining the grid order for the afternoon's 70-minute Feature event. Pole position went to current A1GP points leaders, A1 Team Germany, with Niko Hülkenberg joined on the front-row by New Zealand's Jonny Reid.
"It's frustrating to miss out on a top-ten start but I know the car's quick so hopefully I can pick them off one at a time when we go racing tomorrow," commented Hinchcliffe. "We could well have been fifth on the grid if it hadn't been for the fact I was slowed by the Brazilian car in the second sector of my fourth and final qualifying run. I was a tenth up in the first and third sectors but the middle bit cost us as I caught Brazil on their in-lap. I guess you have to have a bit of luck sometimes when you're out there with this qualifying format. If I can keep my nose clean Sunday then hopefully we'll finish strong and come away with a haul of points to boost our top-ten A1GP standing."