Clivio Piccione scored his first victory in the British Formula Three Championship at Knockhill circuit in Scotland today. The Manor Motorsport driver started from his first pole position and lead every lap on the way to a convincing victory. The race was briefly interrupted by the safety car after numerous incidents in the opening laps but Piccione held his nerve to take a deserved win ahead of Nelson Piquet and Richard Antinucci.
Piccione got a great start from pole position and pulled away from Piquet who was alongside him on the grid. Menu F3 driver Rob Austin got a flyer from eighth position and moved up five places to third position, relegating Carlin's Antinucci back down to fourth. Ronnie Bremer, also driving for Carlin, held his fifth place with team-mate Van der Merwe moving up to sixth place and scholarship Class driver Steven Kane running in seventh in his T-Sport car.
Jamie Green meanwhile was spun off the track at the first corner and was clipped by Carlin team-mate Van der Merwe. Green rejoined the circuit but toured back to the pits and retired from the race. Van der Merwe continued although he had suffered damage to the right-hand side of his front wing. Robert Dahlgren also spun off at the first corner but was able to rejoin at the back of the pack.
Piccione then took full advantage of the clear track in front of him to build up a lead. Within four laps he was nearly two and a half seconds ahead of Piquet and had been the fastest driver on every lap. This lead was short-lived however due to the late appearance of the safety car on lap five.
Ivor McCullough, Tor Graves and Christian England had collided on lap two as they approached the hairpin. England spun in the middle of the corner and was subsequently collected by the following Graves and MuCullough. Despite the yellow flags Andrew Thompson caught McCullough's car and was forced to tour back to the pits with a damaged car. MuCullough and Graves also eventually got going but McCullough's car was too badly damaged to continue racing. Graves managed to get going after a quick pit stop and ultimately finished last.
After a single lap at low speed the race resumed and Piquet kept right behind Piccione on the run to the start line. He maintained the pressure for a further three laps but Piccione responded well and then was able to slowly pull out an extra quarter of a second per lap until he had a two second cushion by lap 13.
Behind the leaders Austin, Antinucci and Bremer were all battling for third place. Austin held the position immediately after the safety car but started to suffer problems with his gearbox. Antinucci passed Austin on the next lap and Austin soon dropped a further two places as both Bremer and Davison got past, as did van der Merwe on lap nine. Austin had now lost his first three gears, essential on such a tight and twisty circuit, and so he inevitably pitted and retired from the race.
Piccione then continued to extend his lead, including setting the fastest lap of the race, and by lap 22 he was three seconds ahead of Piquet. Antinucci was a further five seconds bath in third place with Bremer three seconds behind him in fourth. The leaders held formation to the flag on lap 26 and Piccione crossed the line to take his first win in the series. "Every lap I went quicker and quicker and I'm really confident now" said a delighted Piccione.