Freeparking.co.uk Clio Trophy Team takes Monaco by storm. British Freeparking.co.uk pairing Rick Pearson [Fulham] and Paul Lomax [Edenbridge] posted their best results of the season in the Renault Sport Clio Trophy double header meeting at...
Freeparking.co.uk Clio Trophy Team takes Monaco by storm.
British Freeparking.co.uk pairing Rick Pearson [Fulham] and Paul Lomax [Edenbridge] posted their best results of the season in the Renault Sport Clio Trophy double header meeting at Monaco last weekend.
Rick Pearson #33: 21st: 1:55.213s
Paul Lomax #23: 27th: 1:57.661s
A traditional prelude to the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix, the Renault Sport Clio Trophy kicked off first qualifying with a flurry of action and tyre changes. With rain falling at one end of the circuit and not the other, the thirty strong field played cat and mouse for much of the forty minute afternoon session. When last season's Monaco winner, Anthony Beltoise flew off the road first time round at Massenet, Pearson quickly chalked up the four laps required for qualification before peeling into the pits and changing onto full wets for the remainder of the session.
The UK Clio Cup graduate rejoined the track and was soon up in a brilliant third fastest overall. With the track drying however, those drivers still shod with slick tyres were able to move back up the grid, demoting Pearson to a satisfactory sixteenth.
Second qualifying just two hours later took place on a fully dry track. Steady in sixteenth, Pearson was forced to pit in the middle of the session to allow the car and tyres to cool and while in the pits, was demoted to twenty second.
Two flying laps later and a whole one second quicker than his previous efforts, Pearson made a one slot improvement to twenty first on the grid.
Paul Lomax, in only his third ever Clio Trophy race, had a solid qualifying day. Despite a small touch of the barriers thanks to the slippy surface in session one, he made ground in session two a few hours later, sneaking onto the grid in twenty seventh place to claim the final race spot. With three drivers out qualified and unable to race, the Freeparking.co.uk team were particularly happy to have made the cut with ease on their first visit to the principality.
Rick Pearson:"As soon as we were allowed into the pit lane, I pulled out onto the tarmac and was lining up fourth when the session started. Most of the grid was forced to tip-toe round due to the track being much wetter in some places than others. The hill was particularly tricky as it was not that wet at the bottom but demanded full wet tyres at the top.
Coming through Casino square after visiting the pits, I was delighted to pass the huge TV screen and see my name up as high as third place. Unfortunately, a dry line started to appear with just two or three minutes left.
The second session was dry so I knew the times from session one wouldn't really count. I struggled a bit in session two with a handling imbalance on the car which meant that I wasn't able to go through the tunnel flat out like the rest of the grid. Twenty first is a little bit disappointing but overall, it's great that both Paul and I qualified on our first attempt and it's a fantastic feeling to be racing at such a prestigious venue."
Race 1: Saturday
Rick Pearson: 15th
Paul Lomax: 21st
The usual heady mix of a grid full of Clio V6s and their respective pilots all wanting to arrive at the first corner first didn't disappoint when race one got underway on Saturday afternoon. The tight and twisty, three kilometre street circuit begins at Sainte Devote and with the limited number of overtaking opportunities, is one of the most important turns of the lap.
A standing start-- the only one of the season for the Renault Sport Clio Trophy- gave the Freeparking.co.uk duo a slight advantage given that the rest of the field are more used to the rolling starts favoured by the European series. Launching his Clio V6 off the grid, Pearson was perfectly positioned to begin his climb through the grid when the circuit opened up later that same lap.
Despite the earlier handling problems, the Mark Fish Motorsport prepared Clio Trophy car had the legs of most of the mid field and was able to close up on the battle for a top fifteen finish with relative ease. Braking later and carrying more speed, Pearson sailed past one car at Sainte Devote on lap two, gained another place at Mirabeau and passed a third at Portier.
A fourth attempt saw Pearson diving inside of MRS' Ulrich Rossaro on lap seven but the German driver made a last ditch attempt to save the place, closing the door late and pitching into the unforgiving barriers. While the Safety Car was scrambled to move the stricken car, the field were able to close up, leaving a five lap sprint to the flag to decide final finishing positions.
Despite making up ground at the restart, handling problems and a brush with the barriers put paid to any further heroics in the final three laps. Mindful of race two still to come, Pearson settled for a safe fifteenth position.
From twenty seventh on the grid, the second Freeparking.co.uk Clio V6 of Paul Lomax followed Pearson through the race order. Passing several cars and making up a handful of places, Lomax was on course for a trouble free first race at Monaco when he was hit at the Grand Hotel hairpin by a rival Italian passed only moments earlier and pushed all the way around the circuit to Portier in the final stages.
Rick Pearson:"I've been practising my standing starts in readiness for today's race and am glad to say it paid off! Although I didn't make up any places into the first corner, my good getaway positioned me for an attack later on in the race.
"While attempting to pass Rossaro he tried to shut the door much to late at Tabac and I couldn't avoid the contact with him. I did feel guilty when he hit the barriers and the Safety Car was scrambled but on the next lap I saw him out of the car. It was nothing more than a racing incident although it did knock the handling of my car out for the rest of the race."
Paul Lomax:"I'm pleased to have finished twenty first and was having a really tidy race until the last couple of laps when I was torpedoed at the Grand Hotel Hairpin by a car I'd just put a clean move on. He then pushed me all the way around to Portier, leaving a significant hole in the side panel of my Clio. Fortunately, the Mark Fish crew should be able to fix it tonight and I can't wait to get back on track for tomorrow's race!"
Race 2 (Sunday)
Rick Pearson 10th
Paul Lomax 18th
Race two of the Renault Sport Clio Trophy at Monaco directly preceded the Formula One Grand Prix. In front of a capacity crowd and from a grid bathed in Mediterranean sunshine, Paul Lomax made arguably one of the best starts of the weekend, rocketing onto the tail of his Freeparking.co.uk team mate from a standing start five grid slots back.
With the Mark Fish Motorsport duo running line astern into Sainte Devote, carnage up ahead slowed the pack down on the opening tour. The lead Freeparking.co.uk Clio progressed smoothly through the order, benefiting from a string of retirements directly ahead at Massenet and Tabac.
Passed by Brescia at Mirabeau under waved yellow flags, Pearson was then demoted another place when he was broadsided by Lorenzo Case at Portier. Settling back into the car over the next couple of laps and saving the tyres for a final run, Pearson began to ease onto the tail of both Case and Brescia as the pair squabbled over eighth and ninth places.
As Case had finished behind Pearson in race one on Sunday, the Briton picked up ninth place on aggregate after a tenth place finish on the road.
Lomax meanwhile was enjoying his own battle for position. Despite a perfect three hundred and sixty degree turn in the middle of the pack and a flying visit to the pits to have some flailing bodywork removed, he'd muscled his way up to eighteenth at the flag. Thirteenth on aggregate was his reward for a fantastic weekend's racing.
Rick Pearson:"It's been an incredible privilege to race at Monaco this weekend, alongside the Formula One Grand Prix. The experience has more than lived up to my expectations and I'm delighted to have achieved my best ever result in the Clio Trophy on this tricky street circuit.
"Many thanks are due to team sponsors Freeparking.co.uk for their support this season. I look forward to returning to the Clio Trophy and adding more points to my season total later in the year."
Paul Lomax:"What an incredible experience! Racing at Monaco is what every driver aims for and I have to say, it's more than lived up to expectations. I've had a fantastic weekend and really think that I'm getting to grips with the car now.
"I'd also like to echo Rick's sentiments and thank Freeparking.co.uk for their support this season."