New Zealand A1 GP ace starts from the outside of the front row of the grid after just being pipped in the final session by German Nico Hulkenberg.
February 25, 2007. Team New Zealand driver Matt Halliday lost pole starting position for today’s A1 GP Sprint Race in Durban, South Africa, after Germany’s Nico Hulkenberg produced a searing time in the fourth segment of qualifying.
A1 GP drivers set times in four separate qualifying segments and grid positions are decided by taking an aggregate of their times.
It was Halliday's first qualifying session since the season-opener at Zandvoort in Holland.
At the Beijing (China) round where he also drove Black Beauty, qualifying was abandoned.
“We made some progress but it was down to me to come back into qualifying,” he said on Saturday. “In Beijing there was no qualifying so my last one was Zandvoort and today I was a little bit apprehensive at the start, maybe a little bit too cautious.
“In the last session I had traffic which was bad luck, but on a street circuit you have this happen and I have to be reasonably happy with the result.”
Halliday, who has replaced Jonny Reid in Black Beauty for the South African race, said he had had a tough start to his A1GP campaign.
“(I) missed all the testing and just turning up at Zandvoort where I wasn't quite prepared enough” made for a rocky start.
“Jonny has done a good job, but I know what I can do and I didn't get the chance because he was doing a good job (with strong results in the past three races, Reid has taken New Zealand into second on points – Ed. ).
“I just needed to wait, but it was unfortunate as I didn't expect to wait for five months to get back into the car. I think this shows everyone I can do the job. It was frustrating to just miss the pole.”
Pole-winner Hulkenberg said the battle with Halliday in the final qualifying segment was “quite tough.”
“It was the most important and I had to set a good lap time.
“To make a fast lap is always a compromise between pushing and driving safely. A street circuit (like Durban) is something special and not easy.”
Frenchman Loic Duval qualified third, ahead of Switzerland’s Neel Jani, Dutchman Jeroen Bleekemolen and Mexico’s Salvador Duran.
Photo caption: A1 GP qualifying press conference in Durban. Left to right: Frenchman Loic Duval, German Nico Hulkenberg and New Zealand's Matt Halliday.