Gauteng, 21 February 2009: Only half way through its inaugural season Team Monaco is getting in to its stride and challenging the more established teams in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport with increasing confidence. The squad maintained momentum...
Gauteng, 21 February 2009: Only half way through its inaugural season Team Monaco is getting in to its stride and challenging the more established teams in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport with increasing confidence. The squad maintained momentum from its Friday's performance and will not only start on the 2nd row of the grid for tomorrow morning's Sprint Race, but a clear strategy has also allowed the team to lead the start of the afternoon's Feature race from its first ever pole position at the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit in South Africa.
Official Practice 3 started at 11:00 local time and Team Monaco commenced its Saturday running as soon as an early red flag situation by China had been cleared. Clivio immediately set the fourth fastest lap time and as the rest of the cars came out to complete the field and the circuit rubbered in, Clivio was able to improve his time by setting a 1:28.754, putting the team in P2 with 35 minutes of the hour-long session remaining. Improvements by USA, Portugal and France meant that Team Monaco's best lap time, set on lap six, secured them 6th position on the time sheet at the end of the session.
The PowerBoost 'joker' was reinstated for Saturday qualifying. The functionality of the new A1GP Powered by Ferrari car allows for the PowerBoost button to be available for an entire lap of Qualifying, and teams were allowed to use it for one of their four flying laps.*
In the afternoon the Monegasque squad ventured out on to a clear track in the opening stages of SQ1. Clivio set a provisional P1 time and sat a clear 1.318 seconds ahead of the competition. His time was good enough to see off all his rivals until two last gasp flyers from Switzerland and then Portugal edged Clivio down to a still respectable 3rd position at the close of the session. Ten minutes later, in SQ2, Clivio set a time of 1:28.417, putting him a mere 0.7 seconds off P1 and will start the Sprint race on the 2nd row of the grid in 4th position tomorrow.
Clivio set an early hot lap of 1:29.813 to sit in 12th position at the end of FQ3, the first qualifying session for tomorrow's Feature race. When the final qualifying segment got underway, Clivio left the Monaco garage and utilised the PowerBoost to set the fastest lap time of the weekend so far -- a 1:27.269. An accident by Team Brazil forced a red flag situation with under two minutes of the session to go bringing an abrupt end to running. A calculated strategy by the team has given Monaco its first pole position in its first season in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport.
Clivio Piccione, Driver and Seat Holder: "We started the day with the car as we left it last night and straight away I was quite comfortable and able to set good lap times on the new tyres. I knew that we were going in the right direction and after a few changes to try to improve on a few corners, we went back out to complete the programme. Overall I was confident that we had a good car, so we made no further changes for qualifying. In SQ1 the car was on it straight away; I made a small mistake, but we were quickest at the beginning of the session. We changed to the second set of tyres and improved our time again, with the car still feeling good. It was great to finish in fourth position, our best qualifying position until then. For FQ3 we just wanted a time in the bag and then we went in to FQ4 on a fresh set of tyres and using the push-to-pass button. I had a perfect lap until a small mistake at the chicane, but the time was good enough for pole. After that the red flag stopped the session and so for once luck was on our side! We now hold the record for the fastest lap around Kyalami - thanks to the whole team and to Graham for our strategy today."
Graham Taylor, Team Principal: "We had a positive morning session and quickly realised what was necessary for the races tomorrow. We discussed our approach to qualifying in great length and took a defined strategy which, truth be told, came to pass. I am pleased with our runs during Sprint race qualifying; to achieve P4 without using the PowerBoost showed us that we were in with shout for a good position for the Feature race as only four drivers had used the button for Sprint qualifying. There was therefore potential for red flag situations in Feature race qualifying and so we stuck to our strategic guns, went out early and congratulations to Clivio for not only achieving pole position with a superb lap, but for also setting the fastest lap around this circuit."