A1 Practice Report, Gauteng

A1GP World Cup of Motorsport powered by Ferrari has travelled to South Africa this week, one of the most beautiful countries on the 2008/9 calendar. Host to round five is the FIA approved Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit, which is situated 24 kilometres to the north of central Johannesburg, South Africa’s largest city, in the province of Gauteng.

For only the second time this season Team Monaco was due to participate in the Friday morning “Rookie” free practice sessions with Hubertus Bahlsen, co-seatholder of the team. Various operational difficulties however saw the running of the sessions delayed by almost two hours and condensed into one single gambit rather than the two sessions normally run. Hubertus, one of 16 drivers taking part in the “Rookie” session, emerged from the pits with 30 minutes of track time remaining, beginning his weekend with a one-off recon lap. Five minutes later he re-emerged from the pits for his first timed run of a single flying lap, setting a base initial laptime of 1:41.732.  He improved throughout the remainder of the session, setting a best time of 1:38.434.

Clivio Piccione took over the Team Monaco car for the second practice session, which began just seven minutes after the conclusion of the “Rookie” session. Clivio took to the track with two thirds of the session left to run and immediately set Team Monaco’s best lap of the weekend to date with a 1:37.873 on his very first flying lap. As the session progressed and the times toppled, Clivio improved his time to set a 1:32.314. His times remained consistently in the 1:32s for the remainder of the session, but Clivio saved his best for last, taking a 1:32.032 on his penultimate lap to seal ninth position in a hugely competitive practice session in which all but two of the drivers who registered a laptime were covered by two seconds.

Clivio Piccione, Driver and Seat-Holder: “Unfortunately we could not use the whole of the second practice session as the change over from the Rookie session was only five minutes long. When we went out we quickly found some issues with the car, so I came back to the pits and a small change resolved most of the problems. From there we got on with the programme and I was able to put some good lap times in. My confidence in the track grew with every lap and by the end of the session I was happy with the lap times. I like the track - it has quick corners and is quite demanding - and overall I am happy with today's performance. I think that our results today show that we are in a good position for tomorrow."

Graham Taylor, Team Principal: “After a complicated build up to today we finally managed to run this morning, benefitting from the data acquired in Rookie practice session. Hubertus is finding an improved lap time with every run and he gave us a good look at the car before Clivio drove it in FOP. In FOP we quickly saw that there was very little traction, but some changes to the car helped to rectify this. We ran a shorter programme than planned due to the lack of preparation time between the Rookie and main practice sessions today, so we have a lot of work to do tonight but are looking forward to more track time tomorrow."

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