The weekend started well for Monaco's Clivio Piccione, the Carlin Motorsport driver qualifying in the top three for the first of the weekend's two British Formula Three Championship rounds. It takes a great deal of talent, and also raw courage to deal successfully with the fast, sweeping bends at Thruxton, not least because in order to maximise your times, you need to take the entire back section of the circuit, including the notorious Church corner, flat out, no lifting.
In addition to the difficult and demanding nature of the track itself, the weather seemed to be against the F3 drivers as it had been two weeks ago at Silverstone. This time, as the qualifying session began, you could see the clouds scudding across Salisbury Plain, dumping rain in their wake. They were obviously going to pass over the track very soon.
Taking all this into account, getting a fast time as soon as possible was essential. However, it didn't make life any easier for everyone because no one had their dry set ups worked out.
"I knew I had to push quite early because the bad weather was coming along. It was a bit of a mystery and a gamble; we couldn't try any dry settings in Fridays' testing because the whole morning was wet so we had new parts on the car and we'd never tried them in the dry. We were wondering if it was going to work. And it worked well. The car is feeling good and I think it was good enough to be on pole."
This was a huge improvement for Clivio after his car troubles at Silverstone. He was soon on the pace, and was trying to use any advantage he could find out there to claim pole, including getting a tow from his fellow competitors.
"I did a pretty good lap with a tow behind Danny Watts and Will Power, but unfortunately they wouldn't let me through so I lost a bit of time; I think that lap would have been good enough for pole by a long way. I was second for a long time, but then I lost my second place. I'm not going to worry about this. Third place is pretty good for me; I've started from there twice and won both races, so let's hope this is the third one."
As it turned out, Clivio's optimism was misplaced; if there's one thing you need to be able to move up the order at Thruxton, it's a tow from the car in front. Oh, and some good luck wouldn't have hurt either. It was all looking good as the field left the grid at the start of the race. Clivio made a superb start, though unfortunately he couldn't quite get on terms with James Rossiter (Fortec Motorsport) at the first corner. In addition, Adam Carroll (P1 Motorsport) was also trying to join in.
All of this meant that Lucas di Grassi (Hitech Racing) was able to pull away into the lead, while Clivio, Rossiter and Carroll fought it out for second place. Forced wide when he tried to pass Rossiter, he than had no choice but to give ground to Carroll as well.
"He pushed me wide, so I couldn't do anything that lap, and then Carroll got alongside me, and got the tow from Rossiter - that was my tow! And then I got a bit of a knock, and got pushed wide a second time. I was pushing but I couldn't do anything. The thing is, when you lose the tow, that's it. It's over."
Given the ferocity of the scrap between Rossiter and Carroll, between whom there is little love lost, it was probably best not to be involved and so Clivio settled in for the rest of the race, getting a close up view of what appeared to be an eight- wheeled Dallara at times. He was determined to hang onto his 4th place and valuable points in the Championship chase, and thus he let the two of them slug it out without him. The truly frustrating part of it was the fact that his car was performing so very well, and Clivio himself was well and truly on the pace, setting the second fastest lap of the race as he drove to a lonely finish in fourth.
By: Lynne Waite and Stella-Maria Thomas