Team Monaco finished in the top 10 on the time sheets once again during official practice for round three of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport 2008/9 at the Sepang International Circuit this afternoon.
Whilst 17 rookie drivers took to the track to collect valuable data for other teams in the morning, Clivio Piccione went out immediately as the second practice session started at 14:00 (local time). He returned to the pits after one lap with a radio issue - the team could hear Clivio back in the garage, but the airwaves fell silent in the Team Monaco cockpit.
Despite being unable to hear the team for the entire practice running, Clivio focused on familiarising himself and the car with the 5.54 kilometres circuit, one of the longest on the A1GP calendar, in the extremely hot and humid conditions. The new team concentrated on car set-up in the short amount of track time it had today and Clivio honed his skills for the long sweeping corners in the A1GP Powered by Ferrari car.
Clivio set a fastest lap time of 1:50.618, crossing the finish line in ninth position at the end of the session with only a couple of hundredths of a second separating Teams Ireland, New Zealand and Monaco. It was Team GBR and defending 2007 Champions Switzerland who took the chequered flag in the top two positions today.
Clivio Piccione, Driver and Seat-Holder: “Sepang is an awesome track and I really enjoy it, but there are very high temperatures in the cock pit. We worked on set-up and made an improvement on the last lap. I was getting more and more comfortable in the car, getting to know the sweeping corners and trying to maximise our performance. We are quite confident and shall be starting on a good foot tomorrow. We know where we need to improve and I know where I need to push more.”
Graham Taylor, Team Principal: “Since our arrival in Malaysia the team has spent more time together improving the way we work. This includes pitstop practice, which is an area where we have been lacking in pace at the previous races. Only running for one practice session today is a handicap and it would be advantageous to have a rookie driver to allow us to catch up with some of the established teams. However, during the session Clivio was acclimatising to the circuit and the engineering staff worked on ironing out initial balance problems. Overall, we are pleased to be in the top ten once again, but are looking forward to more track time tomorrow.”