Saturday, 26 June 2010 05:00
A Superleague Formula by Sonangol qualifying session marked by surprises saw Italian club AS Roma and its French driver Julien Jousse make amends for both nations’ disastrous World Cup campaigns by netting pole position in qualifying for race 1 at the Nurbrgring on Sunday.
The youngster reached the final by beating the in form Chris van der Drift (Olympiacos) in the quarter final and Yelmer Buurman (AC Milan) in the knock-out stages of qualifying and then defeated Robert Doornbos of Brazilian giants Corinthians in the final.
Doornbos, who hasn’t qualified higher than 11th so far this season, finally turned things around by topping Group A, the most difficult of the group stages, and then beat Tristan Gommendy (Galatasaray) and Davide Rigon (RSC Anderlecht) in the quarter and semi finals.
His hopes of pole position ended when he made a mistake in the final and lost by more than half a second to Jousse.
Rigon will start tomorrow’s race from third, with Buurman fourth and in a fantastic position to close the gap to league leaders Tottenham Hotspur, for whom Craig Dolby endured a disastrous qualifying.
The British driver will start tomorrow’s race from the very back of the grid after going out in the group stages, his car suffering a problem that the team has yet to fully understand. One of his chief title rivals, FC Basel, also crashed out as an unhappy Max Wissel struggled on home turf.
The other English club, Liverpool, was another to suffer a problem, but at least made it past the group stages. James Walker had impressed to go through third quickest from Group A, but suffered a brake issue in his quarter final against Anderlecht and toured home after Rigon passed him early in the lap.
Group A was a stunner in the first part of qualifying as the top four changed constantly in the dying moments. As well as the demise of Tottenham Hotspur and FC Basel, French clubs Bordeaux, race 2 winners in Jarama last weekend, and Olympique Lyonnais also missed out.
Lyon’s Sebastien Bourdais had a particularly frustrating afternoon as he saw his best lap time, which had momentarily placed him fourth, beaten by Flamengo in the dying stages, and then crashed into the tyre barriers at turn 6 as he pushed to get one more quick time.
The biggest surprise of Group B was John Martin’s failure to carry his strong form from Jarama, where he won pole position and the first race, to the Nürburgring.
The Beijing Guoan FC driver missed the cut by three tenths of a second and ended the session in the gravel trap after a spin.
Julien Jousse, AS Roma:
“I’m really happy for the team. We’ve had some bad luck so far this season with mechanical problems and incidents happening on the track, so to get pole for the first race is great and gives us the chance to do well and get through to the Super Final. We’ve known all season that our car is competitive as we have set very good lap times in the race so this pole is good for everybody.”
Robert Doornbos, Corinthians:
“It’s always nice to be on the front row of the grid and I really like this track. I’ve raced here in all different formulae and I obviously did well in Superleague Formula in 2008 with pole and a win. It was close today and I’m very proud of my team because it has been a difficult start to the season. We had to change our engine before qualifying and the guys didn’t get any lunch so this is for them.”
Davide Rigon, RSC Anderlecht:
“Qualifying went quite well. We’ve worked hard on the car but I still think we can make it faster. We had a problem before the semi final with the starter, but I’m not sure what it was, and then Robert (Doornbos) was a little bit faster than me, but tomorrow is the main thing.”
Yelmer Buurman: AC Milan:
“I’m happy to be on the second row and our speed is quite good. Quickest in the group stages and the quarter finals and second quickest in the semi final is not bad. I’d like to get some points back on Craig (Dolby) tomorrow but it isn’t easy as the reversed grid race has the same amount of points as the first so there is a good chance he can score despite where he is starting race 1. We will try our best though.”
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