A1 Team Monaco secured a third row starting slot for the first Sprint Race of the 2008/09 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport season today as Clivio Piccione powered to fifth place in Saturday’s qualifying session*.
A1 Team Monaco was the first car to leave the pit garages when conditions were reasonably dry at the start of the first morning practice session. However, as inclement weather drew in, the field experienced limited running as hazardous wet conditions caused a number of cars to spin and leave the tarmac.
Clivio kicked started the A1GP track activity once again later this morning when the team made its second outing for one final and extended, practice. It was solid session for the team, with Clivio maintaining consistent lap times and remaining in fifth position for most of the hour. At the end of the session, after Clivio had completed 21 laps with a fastest time of 1:26.856, Monaco was sixth fastest, with only three tenths of a second separating the team from third placed team Ireland.
Team Monaco mirrored its consistent performance in the afternoon during the new one-hour qualifying format (introduced for this weekend). The Monegasque squad maintained fifth place for most of the session, but after a number of Red Flag situations and continuous track improvement, the more experienced teams picked up the pace towards the middle of the session. Monaco dropped momentarily to ninth, but with only two minutes of the hour remaining Clivio set a fastest time of 1:25.118 and elevated the team back to its rightful place of fifth on the time sheet. Clivio will start the Sprint race on the third row of the grid for the team’s inaugural A1GP series race tomorrow.
Clivio Piccione: “The track was quite tricky at the start of the first practice session and conditions were very windy, so I only got two or three laps in the dry before it started raining. We did a few runs in the wet and the car was improving with each lap, so it was good to try runs in both dry and wet, slippery conditions. Overall our lap times in the morning were good and I was happy with the car. We went into Qualifying initially on an old set of tyres to get a base line set-up. The track was even windier than in the morning, so the car was a bit snappy. We put on our first set of tyres, but on my out lap there was a red flag, so I had to come back into the pits. We went out again and put in a reasonable lap time. The car suffered from bit of understeer on our next outing, so we made a few changes and finally put on our last set of tyres at the end of the session and the car really improved on the front. Unfortunately I had a bit of traffic on my flying lap, which is a shame as the performance and grip were there, but overall I am happy with the result; to be in fifth place for the start of our first race in the championship is a good result.”
Graham Taylor, Team Principal: "Team Monaco is testament to its staff’s professionalism, work ethic and commitment; to have brought this project to fruition and have the encouraging performance that we have showed during our first Qualifying session here in Zandvoort, in very tricky track conditions. Clivio clearly showed his abilities and whilst a number of other cars incurred problems, we incurred none. We managed to complete our planned programmes and are very encouraged by our performance today.”