At round three of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport Powered by Ferrari, Team Monaco finished in 12th place in the Sprint race and was forced in to an early retirement from an incident filled Feature race at the Sepang International Circuit. Sunday’s results mean that Team Monaco now lies in 12th place in the championship with nine points and three Top Ten finishes.
The morning’s Sprint event saw the cars drive in formation towards the rolling start when an incident involving USA, Brazil and India brought out the red flag. A1 Team Monaco seat holder and driver Clivio Piccione, starting from 16th on the grid, drove a solid 11-laps race. He kept his head together as the single file re-start got underway and overtook Indonesia and Mexico midway through the race to take the chequered flag in 12th position with a best lap time of 1:50.531. 2007 race winners and reigning Champions Team Switzerland took the victory, with France and New Zealand in second and third places respectively.
Team Monaco endured a frustrating and ultimately disappointing afternoon. Clivio began the 34-laps Feature race from 11th position on the grid, but he immediately had a technical issue. The Monegasque crew was in 17th place when the safety car was deployed due to a stop out on track by Teams Switzerland and India, and Clivio came back to the pits to allow his team to work on identifying and the problem. He got out of the cockpit to stand in the garage only to watch the safety car come in on lap three.
Out on track, the battle for the top points continued between Teams Ireland, Portugal and Malaysia, but a pit stop miscommunication by Malaysia, with 17 laps to go, meant that they lost several places and the chance for another podium finish. This gave USA the opportunity to run in third position, with Australia and South Africa knocking closely on the door for the rest of the race.
Clivio rejoined the Feature event with 11 laps remaining, but it was for one lap only as the issue with the car had not been resolved and he was forced to finally retire from the race. At the end of the session it was Team Ireland who secured its second win of the 2008/9 season, taking them to the top of the championship leader board, with Portugal and USA stepping up on to the other two places on this afternoon’s podium.
Clivio Piccione, Driver and Seat Holder: “The start of the Sprint race was chaos, but our car was okay and I was having a good battle with Australia. He gave me knock in to turn two and I lost a lot of ground from that. I was driving at quite a good pace when we went for our first pitstop, which was pretty good, but the car became a little unsettled on the new tyres, so we just tried to catch up. It was difficult travelling in dirty air and the car was not feeling comfortable, but our pace was not bad and we just brought the car home. This afternoon was disappointing. Preparing for the Feature race we came through the pits for the warm-up, but the second time we came through the pits the car misfired and on my way to the grid it felt like I had no more power. I was barely able to pull away for the start of the race and the team worked on the car with Ferrari to try to resolve the problem. We tried to get out again later on in the race, but the problem was still the same, so that was end of our day.”
Graham Taylor, Team Principal: "Clivio missed the big accident at the rolling start of the Sprint race, but in avoiding it he had to cross the grass and damaged the car a little, affecting its performance. From the word go we were battling with Australia, but dropped three places and then tried to climb back up the time sheet. We decided to make our first mandatory pit stop at end of the window to see if we could maximise the opportunity, however we were unable to make up ground and battled with Lebanon for the rest of the race, still struggling to improve on our position due to the damage sustained earlier. In the build up to the Feature event in the afternoon, we came through pits for the warm up but when we came through again for a second practice start Clivio advised us on the radio that he had no power. We looked at the data and unfortunately both the initial and second diagnoses for the misfire were incorrect, and despite the team working throughout the race to try to fix the issue, we are still investigating it now.”
Sprint Race Feature Race
Starting Grid Position: 16 Starting Grid Position: 11
Best Lap Time: 1:50.531 Best lap Time: NA
Race Finish: 12th Race Finish: DNF