Difficult start to the season for A1 Team Canada
29 September 2007 – A1 Team Canada faces a challenging start to the 2007-08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport after a damp afternoon of qualifying at Circuit Park Zandvoort in The Netherlands. James Hinchcliffe, who made his A1GP debut for Canada at the corresponding meeting last season, qualified 21st for tomorrow morning's Round 1 Sprint race before going on to score a more encouraging 12th place grid slot for the later Feature race.
A1GP's 22 competing nations took to the 4.18km Zandvoort track for the first time this morning with overhead conditions far from ideal thanks to the inclement weather. Hinchcliffe was 13th fastest in first practice but the second session saw the 20-year-old Toronto racer caught out by the slippery conditions at Turn 4, the following impact with the tire barrier ending his practice prematurely.
Hinchcliffe was unfortunate to miss the first qualifying session as the team battled the clock to fix the rear-end damage to the car but he made it out into the second session meaning he had just one flying lap to set his position for the Sprint race. His time of 1m52.789s locked him into 21st on the grid directly behind A1 Team Malaysia's Alex Yoong, the former F1 racer in 20th with 2004 Indy 500 Champion Buddy Rice one spot up the order in 19th making his A1GP debut with A1 Team USA.
The final two qualifying sessions, to determine the grid order for the Feature race, proved to be more productive for Hinchcliffe. A run of 1m48.823s in the first session on a fresh set of tires was bettered by a 1m46.739s lap in the second, good for 12th on the Feature grid and a more promising indication of the pace of the Canadian entry as they target points tomorrow, the top-ten in both races scoring.
"Well we had a bit of a set-back in second practice," said Hinchcliffe. "I have to give a ton of credit to the guys on the team for getting the car fixed for qualifying. We missed the first run but mechanically everything worked fine for the rest of the session. I was down an hour and a bit of track time and we ran a little too safe in my first and only Sprint run but Feature qualifying went much better. Given the circumstances we're pretty optimistic and we're focusing on our race set-up now!"