A1 Monaco Report from Taupo, NZ

Team Monaco finished in 11th place in the Sprint race and in 18th position at the end of a frustrating Feature event today at the Taupo Motorsport Park, host of round four of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport Powered by Ferrari. Today’s results mean that Team Monaco remains in 12th place in the championship with nine points and three Top Ten finishes.

A1GP organisers opted for a standing start for the 15-laps Sprint race due to problems in previous years caused by the short run between the start line and the first corner. The plan worked as all the teams made it through the first corner safely with Team Monaco driver Clivio Piccione making up three positions from 16th on the grid by overtaking teams Mexico, GBR and Brazil at turn one. After the mandatory pitstop window the Monegasque squad were running in 11th place and continued to remain just outside the top 10 until the chequered flag. Team Ireland, who took double pole in qualifying yesterday, came home to victory while Switzerland and the Netherlands were second and third respectively.

Team Monaco endured an exceedingly frustrating afternoon. Clivio made a promising start to the 50-laps Feature race as he climbed from 17th place on the grid to end lap one in 11th position. Clivio overtook USA and India in the following laps and was running in 9th place on lap 10 when Brazil closed the door in front of him as they were running wheel to wheel. Contact as Brazil spun across the track removed Clivio’s front wing and forced him to run off-track to avoid further collision. Clivio came back to the pits to allow the team to replace the car’s nose and front wing and he rejoined the Feature event in 18th position with 35 laps remaining. A problem with the left rear during the second mandatory pitstop meant a delay in the pitlane; however Monaco rejoined the race in the same position. A stop out on track on lap 33 brought Clivio’s race to a premature end and the Taupo weekend to a disappointing conclusion.

Clivio Piccione, Driver and Seat Holder: “I did not have a good start off the line for the Feature race. I had a lot of wheel spin and it is not easy to push forward when you are not going in a straight line. I made up a few positions at turns one and two and the car felt the best it had been all weekend so I was able to push. One by one I was overtaking people and gaining places until, unfortunately, Brazil turned into me on turn seven and pushed me into the gravel at full speed, damaging the nose and I had to go back to garage at a very slow pace. From then the race was effectively over. After the pitstop the car felt ok and I had the pace of the leaders, but the last set of tyres was not good and as I was pushing to try to make up time someone came off at turn eight and put sand on the track, so when I applied the brakes they locked up and I spun into the gravel.”

Graham Taylor, Team Principal: “The Sprint race went according to plan. We did not have a great start and Clivio had a coming together with Brazil in turn two when they braked too early and so we ran up the back of the car and took some damage. Our pitstop on lap six went well with the crew turning the pitstop round quickly and Clivio emerged in 11th place. Team hopes were high for the second race. We took an aggressive tyre strategy, which paid off in the first lap when Clivio was able to jump up to 11th as he picked off USA and India. He then caught up and was racing with Brazil, who then made a mistake giving Clivio the chance to attack. But Brazil collided with him, taking off his front wing and puncturing the front tyre, in essence ending the challenge right there. When the car came back to pitlane we changed the tyres and nose and when Clivio went out, he was lapping times close to the leaders. On the positive side, we see performance potential, but unfortunately this weekend we have been unable to show our true level.”

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