Vodafone A1GP Algarve, Portuga1
A day of mixed fortunes ended A1 Team Monaco’s Portuguese charge this weekend. A solid 5th place finish in the Sprint race was over shadowed by the denial of a potential podium in the Feature event in the afternoon.
The results of round six of the 2008/9 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport mean that Monaco remains in 9th position in the championship, with 27 points and six Top Ten finishes.
Clivio Piccione made a great start to the 15-laps Sprint race this morning, jumping from his 10th grid position to 5th place by the end of the first lap. The safety car came out after a coming together by New Zealand and Germany, but after Monaco made its mandatory pitstop on lap five, Clivio rejoined the action retaining 5th place. Keeping extremely close to the rear wing of Vitantonio Liuzzi, Clivio engaged in an exciting battle for position with Team India. He continued to fill the rear view mirrors of pole-sitters Italy when a Red Flag raised with only 3 laps to go ended the running prematurely. Netherlands took the Sprint race victory from teams Ireland, Portugal, Italy and Team Monaco coming home in the points once again, in 5th position.
It was an eventful Feature race this afternoon starting with pole position team Netherlands retiring from the formation lap. This left championship challengers Ireland to head the start of the race whilst Clivio battled in a throng of midrunners jostling for position throughout lap one. Clivio soon returned to 9th place and was hot on the heels of Malaysia when the first mandatory pitstop window opened. Now leading the race the team made a strategic late stop to rejoin the action ahead of Malaysia. An incident between New Zealand and South Africa took out both cars ahead of Clivio who was now running in 6th position when the deployed safety car returned to the pits. As the action reached fever pitch and produced possibly some of the closest racing of the season, team USA closed the door on Italy, spinning the car into the rear of the passing Monegasque challenger, taking Clivio out of the race when a podium finish was potentially in his sights.
The first four-wheeled race event at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve has provided a breathtaking spectacle. With points scored during the Sprint race and a marked progression in performance, Team Monaco remains hopeful of further success at Brands Hatch on 1-3 May 2009.
Clivio Piccione, Driver and Seat Holder: “We made our best start of the season in the Sprint Race this morning. We made up ground toward the first corner and I was in 5th position on the first lap. Our pitstop was the best one we have done so far, so well done to the boys. I was chasing Italy and putting pressure on Liuzzi, but unfortunately the race was called off with the Red Flag. I still had one push-to-pass left for the last lap and so despite a good result, it could have been better. We also made a good start for the second race, but at the first corner I was pushed wide. I got touched and thought the car was damaged, but when I rejoined the track the car felt pretty good and had good pace. I was held up by Malaysia, but was able to make up ground when we got passed. Our first stop was good and from there I was able to catch the group in front and make progress, running in P5 when Italy and USA connected. I was on my way past when Italy collected my rear wheel and ended our race. Overall, we are really disappointed as we believe we were on our way to a podium finish. It is a disappointing end to the Feature Race, to come away with no points and unable to show our full potential. It was not a great end to the weekend, but it shows that we had good pace in the race and quicker pitstops.”
Graham Taylor, Team Principal: “We made a great start to the Sprint Race and at the end of the first lap, after the safety car, we were running in 5th position. The team did a good job to retain 5th and Clivio made a couple of good challenges on Italy before the Red Flag ended the race. We came away with a good result given our starting position. In the Feature Race, again we were making very good progress, and executed a precise pitstop, only to be taken into an accident where Clivio was collected with nowhere to go. We are obviously disappointed, but with Clivio’s performance today and the team’s development, the next round at Brands Hatch cannot come soon enough.”