Craig Dolby has claimed pole position for tomorrow's Superleague Formula races at Zolder after beating Chris van der Drift in a rain-affected final at the Belgian circuit.
England driver Dolby topped Group A, with Japan's Robert Doornbos, Belgium-Anderlecht's Neel Jani and New Zealand's van der Drift also qualifying for the quarter finals.
In Group B, Australia's John Martin was quickest. Netherlands-PSV Eindhoven's Yelmer Buurman, Luxembourg driver Frederic Vervisch and Spain-Atletico Madrid's Andy Soucek joined Martin in proceeding through to the quarter finals.
Dolby beat Soucek by four tenths in their quarter final, while van der Drift knocked out fellow Antipodean driver Martin. Local driver Vervisch got the better of Doornbos, while Jani posted the quickest time of the round to defeat Buurman.
In the first semi-final series returnee van der Drift bettered Vervisch by seven tenths of a second, while Dolby defeated Jani, even though the Swiss-born driver was quicker than the Englishman in the first two sectors of the lap. Jani's time was good enough to give him third on the grid ahead of Vervisch.
Rain began to fall just before the final got underway, as van der Drift ran first ahead of Dolby. Dolby was nearly a second up in the tricky conditions through the first sector, before van der Drift locked up and ran off the road during the second sector. This allowed Dolby to overtake his rival and beat him by 5.2s.
“It was an interesting session,” said Dolby. “The group stages went to plan but in my semi-final I made a mistake at the start of the lap. Fortunately I was able to make the time up later on, but Neel Jani was very fast. We then spent a long time in the pitlane before the final and it began to rain. Being second on the road for the final was a good thing because it allowed me to see what Chris was doing and that made my life a lot easier. It’s great to be on pole – I’m very happy.”
Van der Drift said: “Being the one leading the way in the final I had to judge the grip on the track, which was difficult. Conditions were tricky, and halfway around the circuit I locked the rears and went straight on. But it's still really good to be back at the front and I'm really looking forward to tomorrow. Weather-wise I don't mind if it's wet or dry, so long as it's one or the other.”