FIRST PODIUM FINISH FOR A1 TEAM MONACO IN KYALAMI FEATURE RACE Gauteng, 22 February 2009: Team Monaco finished in 5th place in the Sprint race and in 3rd position for its first ever podium finish in the Feature event at the Kyalami Grand Prix ...
FIRST PODIUM FINISH FOR A1 TEAM MONACO IN KYALAMI FEATURE RACE
Gauteng, 22 February 2009: Team Monaco finished in 5th place in the Sprint race and in 3rd position for its first ever podium finish in the Feature event at the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit, host of round five of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport Powered by Ferrari. Today's results mean that Team Monaco moves up to 9th in the championship table with 23 points and five Top Ten finishes.
Clivio Piccione made a difficult start from fourth position for the 14-laps Sprint race this morning, at first losing a place to team India before immediately launching a comeback as the battle between the top five cars remained incredibly close. Clivio immediately made a successful move back on India to regain fourth position. The Monegasque squad was running in first place when Clivio came in to make his mandatory pitstop on lap seven and the team remained in fourth place until the final lap when Clivio felt a loss of power coming out of turn eight. It was the Netherlands who, from pole position, took the Sprint race victory, with Portugal, Switzerland and Ireland ahead of Monaco, who crossed the line in fifth position.
From the team's maiden pole position Clivio left the field behind him to battle it out into turn one at the start of the afternoon's Feature race. Early exits by championship leaders Ireland and team New Zealand mixed up the pack in the top ten whilst Clivio built up his lead in front of Switzerland to 1.7 seconds after only two laps. The team made an early stop in the first mandatory window, but a quicker stop later by Switzerland meant that they rejoined the race ahead of Clivio who was trying to overtake those cars still yet to stop. Monaco was then running in second place when Clivio started to struggle with grip, allowing Brazil to close the gap from third. Brazil took advantage of Clivio's ailing tyres and slipped past just before the second pitstop window. With 15 laps to go, and from leading the race once again, Clivio came in for a quicker second stop and returned to the track in third place. With all eight PowerBoost's still intact he maintained his position ahead of the Netherlands and took the chequered flag for Monaco's first ever podium finish. With points scored during both the Sprint and Feature races the new A1GP round at Kyalami has provided the platform the team required to get its inaugural championship campaign back on course, achieving its goal of two Top Five finishes for the weekend.
Clivio Piccione, Driver and Seat Holder: "The start of the Feature race was very good; I got off the line in the lead and was able to pull away and maintain the gap from Switzerland. The car was feeling great, but when we went in for the first pitstop it did not go the way we wanted and we lost a few seconds. We got out in second place and then I was really struggling on the second set of tyres. The car did not behave as I expected and at the end of stint the car was very difficult to drive and the track was tricky. Our second stop was not great either and we lost more time, but we got out on better tyres and the car felt as it did during qualifying so I was able to protect my position from Netherlands and catch up to Brazil. In the remaining few laps we were getting close to Brazil and I saw them struggling so I tried to catch them and reduced the gap to nearly one second on the last lap, gaining ground but sadly not our position. It is a great result for the team, however, with points in bag and making up a few positions in the championship. Improvement has been made in terms of our performance and we are really looking forward to the rest of the season."
Graham Taylor, Team Principal: "Clivio did not experience a great start to the Sprint race. He was on the dirty side of the circuit and lost a place to India, but immediately got it back with a brave overtaking manoeuvre over three corners. The pitlane is very narrow here and so not to get caught in traffic we pitted when the first window opened and executed a good stop to continue in fourth place comfortably ahead of Ireland. But at turn eight on the last lap there was a loss of power from the engine which gifted Ireland our fourth place. Despite this, it was a strong performance by Clivio and the team this morning. We were very much looking forward to the start of the Feature race and Clivio started very strongly. We pitted early, however a poor pitstop dropped us behind Switzerland, but we were still in a strong position. Clivio then started to report problems with the tyres and lack of front end grip, putting him in the clutches of Brazil. We lost position before the second round of pitstops, but on a better set of tyres Clivio was able to close in on the Brazilian car and challenge for P2 at the end of the race. The team is very happy to finish on the podium so early in its A1GP career. I would like to give credit to Clivio and team for such great performance this weekend."