Second qualifying at Thruxton should have seen Monaco's Clivio Piccione put his Carlin Motorsport Dallara on pole position, or at least on the front row for the second of Monday's British Formula Three Championship rounds at Thruxton. However, things didn't quite work out as planned for the youngster. He started the session well, knowing that it was important to set a good time as soon as possible, even while waiting for his tyres to come in and begin to work at their best.
As Clivio explained, "I went out, and my car was feeling pretty good, so I pushed quite hard for the first three laps. I was in second then, and the tyres were ready, so I went for my quickest lap." Unfortunately, out on the back of the circuit where you need to be flat out all the way, it all started to go wrong. "I went through Church and had a suspension failure. That sort of thing doesn't exactly give you confidence, especially when you find you have snap oversteer at two hundred and forty kilometres an hour into Church! He returned to the pits at a much-reduced speed to allow the team to work on the problem, but when you only have a twenty-five minute practice session, the game is pretty much up when that happens.
Even so, the Carlin boys did their best, and Clivio was back out before the session ended. "I came in and they had to set it up, which took about 10 minutes. Then when they finished, we didn't know if the wheel was straight or not, so I went out and the car just didn't feel like it should." There was nothing more that could be done in the time available, and Clivio slipped down the order to start the race from 7th. He wasn't too worried. "The first race is good and the second one is not too bad because you can at least overtake here, so I can still do something. I think around the first corner you can do a lot. I'm looking good and feeling confident for the race tomorrow."
With his Carlin Dallara running as well as could be wished for, Clivio made a blinding start, getting off the line really well, and gaining a number of places before the race was even a lap old. However, things didn't go smoothly. "We got to the Complex and Andrew Thompson (Hitech Racing) went straight on and cut across me. I had to brake hard to avoid him and lost a load of places, dropping back to 6th again. After that I had a really good fight with Alvaro Parente, but he kept blocking me."
Clivio and Parente may be teammates, but as they are lying respectively fourth and fifth in the championship chase at present, Alvaro wasn't about to make it easy for the Monegasque and was driving the world's widest Dallara it seemed. No matter what Clivio tried, Alvaro wouldn't budge. Repeated attempts to find a workable gap came to nothing, as did a number of looks up the inside of the Portuguese at the Chicane. The opportune moment simply refused to present itself, leaving Clivio to wish he'd not had problems in qualifying. Really, all he could do now was hope that Alvaro could be pressured into making a mistake.
"It was quite frustrating really, and by the end my tyres were simply beginning to lose their effectiveness, so I just couldn't challenge him. I was among the fastest drivers in the early stages of the race, and I set the third quickest lap time of the race, but Alvaro just wouldn't play the game! Once I realised that I just concentrated on consolidating my fourth place in the championship. I'd have liked to get a podium placing at least, and I really thought we were good for that this time. Now I'm just looking forward to Spa in two weeks time."
By: Lynne Waite and Stella-Maria Thomas