A superb qualifying display at Zolder today gave Chris van der Drift and the Olympiacos team pole position for round six of tomorrow's Superleague Formula by Sonangol.
The 24 year old rookie continued the good form show last time out with the Greek Team to beat the home favourite Davide Rigon of RSC Anderlecht in the final of the unique knockout stages. A time of 1:18.721 was good enough for van der Drift's first Pole in just his sixth outing. The New Zealander had finished with the quickest time in group B, which led to a quarter final head to head against another in form driver in the shape of AC Milan's Yelmer Buurman. Having dispatched Buurman in the Quarter final, van der Drift then beat Max Wissel of FC Basel to reach the Final round.
Loosing finalist Rigon, easily dispatched Liverpool's James Walker by over half a second in his quarter final stage before coming up against Robert Doornbos in the Corinthians car, who had set the quickest time of everyone in the group stages. A close fought battle here saw Rigon snatch the final place by just three hundredths of a second.
Championship leader Craig Dolby (Tottenham Hotspurs) set Group B's second fastest time and came up against Wissel in the quarter final stages in what proved to be a tight battle. The German took the lead in sector one before the Brit went head after sector two. Unfortunately a slight mistake from Dolby at the hairpin handed the win the FC Basel car. The fourth quarter final was a match-up between Doornbos and Marcos Martinez of Sevilla.
Yellow flags were bought out towards the end of Group A's session thanks to Duncan Tappy, who was just shy of a top four time, had beached his Flamenco car in the Gravel. This scuppered the chances of the remaining cars to improve their times. Group B also finished with a car visiting the gravel as Jaap van Lagen span off on his Superleague Debut. However he was pleased to set a sixth fastest time in his group. Mechanical trouble put an end to Porto's Alvaro Parente chances of setting a good time, and after a win at the Nurbergring in round five, he was the only driver not to break one minute 20 seconds.
So at the end of the qualifying sessions, tomorrow's grid will line up like this:
Pole: van der Drift – Olympiacos 2nd: Rigon – RSC Anderlecht
3rd: Wissel – FC Basel 4th: Doornbos – Corinthians
5th: Walker – Liverpool 6th: Dolby – Tottenham Hotspurs
7th: Buurman – AC Milan 8th: Martinez – Sevilla
9th: Perera – Flamengo 10th: Martin – Beijing Guoan
11th: Soucek – Sporting Lisbon 12th: van Lagen – Bordeaux
13th: Jousse – AS Roma 14th: Karthikeyan – PSV Eindhoven
15th: Gommedy – Galatasaray 16th: Parente – FC Porto
17th: de Villota – Atletico Madrid
Chris van der Drift was delighted at the end of the session and was quoted as saying: “Finally we've got our pole position! This is really great for the team and starting from the front always makes things easier on race day. I got faster and faster in the knockout stages as I pushed more and found better lines. The plan for tomorrow is for a first feature race win. We want to get some good points to climb further up the league table and after that the Super Final is just a bonus.”
Home Favourite Davide Rigon was also very pleased after putting his Belgium teams car on the front row. “It's fantastic to be on the front row in Anderlecht's home race. The car is good, a bit better than in free practice, and I am sure we will be fast in the races. I'm very happy and looking forward to tomorrow as it's a chance to close the gap to the teams at the top of the table, but it will be important not to make any mistakes.”
Race 1 takes place on Sunday at 11:30am local time (10:30 GMT) and can be seen streamed live online at www.superleagueformula.com