An Action packed race day at Zolder in the Superleague Formula on Sunday, saw AC Milan take the lead in the championships standing from Tottenham Hotspur.
Chris van der Drift continued his good form of late with a lights to flag victory. It was a mature drive from the New Zealander, who has won back to back Super Final races in the last two rounds, despite being pushed all the way by home favourite Davide Rigon in the RSC Anderlecht car.
Van der Drift got a good start from the front of the grid and held a steady lead going into the pit stop window. During the compulsory stops Rigon had closed the 1.5 second advantage to almost nothing. However van der Drift kept composed to withstand the pressure and steadily eased away to take the win by 1.8 seconds. Another good starter, Robert Doornbos for Corinthians, managed to get the jump on the FC Basel Car of Max Wissel. This enabled Doornbos to take his first podium of the year for third place. It was not all plain sailing for the Dutchman as he came under increasing pressure from Yelmer Buurman of AC Milan, eager to gain as many points as possible to close the gap on Championship Leader Craig Dolby. Buurman had started the race from 7th but had managed to pass James Walker in the Liverpool car and Wissel of FC Basel during the pit stops. An inspired move on Dolby in the Tottenham Hotspurs car at the Gilles Villeneuve chicane meant he was up into fourth position and hunting down Doornbos for the final podium position. With ten minutes remaining Buurman was right on the tail of the Corinthians Driver, but a mistake saw him run off the track briefly and drop too far back to mount another attack.
This had left Dolby to finish in fifth whilst Walker had snatched sixth from Wissel after he out broke himself trying to take the Fifth place off Dolby, enabling the Liverpool driver to capitalise. Marcos Martinez finished in eighth for Sevilla in front of Andy Soucek on his return to the series in the green Sporting Lisbon car. The top ten was rounded out by Former F1 driver Narain Karthikayen for PSV Eindhoven. The only retirement of the race came when the clutch on Brit Duncan Tappy's car failed, leaving the Flamenco team with pole in race two thanks to the reversed grid.
At the end of the race Chris van der Drift was quoted as saying: “It's good to turn the pole into a win. When you start at the front half the work is done and you just have to get the second part sorted. It's a fantastic result and we've scored good points. The Atletico Madrid car blocked me a bit at the end while I was lapping it, so I was a little worried that Davide would catch me, but I had kept a couple of push to passes just in case.”
A delighted Robert Doornbos said: “I can't believe I am so happy with a podium! It's been a long time since I was up there and I've missed it. This one is for the boys in the team. We had a terrible start to the season but we turned a corner at the Nurburgring so now it's time to get some good results.”
So on to race two and the big story here was the unfortunate end to the Tottenham Hotspur car of Craig Dolby right at the very start. Dolby was unfortunately caught up in a tangle between James Walker (Liverpool) and Marcos Martinez (Sevilla). Contact between these two sent Martinez into the path of Dolby which damaged his front wheel and removed the front wing leaving him to roll to a stop on the pit straight. Martinez, however was unaware the collision had ripped off his rear wing and continued charging down to the first corner, mid pack. The lack of downforce under braking sent the Sevilla car straight into Robert Doornbos who pitched into the gravel and rolled over. Thankfully no one was hurt in the incidents but it lead to the safety car being called.
Duncan Tappy was leading the field when the pit stop window opened. After coming in to change tyres, Tappy rejoined to find Julien Jousse in the AS Roma car had opted to stay out a lap longer. This was a stategy that paid off for Jousse as he exited the pit lane just ahead of Tappy, who tried to pass on the inside of turn 2. The Brit put two wheels on the grass trying to snatch first spot causing a slide which was well held, but meant the Flamenco car had lost ground on his competitor and let third placed FC Porto's Alvaro Parente close in on him.
As Jousse pulled away from the pack Parente, in third, retired with what is believed to be a system pressure failure. This pushed Tristan Gommendy of Galatasaray into the remaining podium place who had earlier been lucky to survive banging wheels with Maria de Villota in the Athletico Madrid car as she tried to block Gommendy when he passed her. After this de Villota dropped down the places and out of the top ten. Max Wissel charged up the field to put pressure on Gommendy for third but it was too little, too late.
Yelmer Buurman who was making the most of the retirement of Craig Dolby took fifth ahead of Andy Soucek. John Martin struggled with a car lacking pace to bring it home in a respectable seventh whilst race one winner van der Drift and runner up Rigon took eighth and ninth respectively. The top ten was completed by Superleague Debutant Jaap van Lagen in the Bordeaux car.
After race 2, Olympiacos took pole in the Super final. They were joined by AC Milan, RSC Anderlecht, Basel, As Roma and Galatasaray. All teams were hungry for the â‚¬100,000 prize for first place.
As they lined up on the grid from the formation lap van der Drift took up his pole slot but had over shot his mark by half a car's length. Confusion ensued within the pits as to what will happen regards to punishment as the cars headed off to turn one. Rigon dived up the inside of van der Drift in a move which was to seal his victory and give him the lead to the finish of the five lap sprint. The front two broke away from the chasing pack leaving Julien Jousse of AS Roma to take third. The remaining places were filled by Galatasaray, new championship leader AC Milan and FC Basel.
Van der Drift's second place remains provisional at the time of publishing as the stewards are still investigating the start line incident.
A good weekend's work from AC Milan and Yelmer Buurman saw them overturn a 30 point deficit going into round 6 and finishing with an eight point advantage over their nearest rivals Tottenham Hotspurs and Craig Dolby.
Super Final winner Davide Rigon, who was pleased to get a win for the Home fans cheering on the Belgium RSC Anderlecht team, spoke to the media afterwards and said: “We were fast in both the feature races and then I made a fantastic start to the Super Final to get into the lead at the first corner. It's been a great weekend for me, the team and of course Anderlecht and I'd like to say thank you to everyone. For the next round, I don't really know Brands Hatch at all other than it's a difficult circuit and that it will be important to learn the track in practice and find a good set-up. But I don't think that will be a problem.”
Round Seven of the Superleague Formula takes place at Brands Hatch on the weekend of July 31st to August 1st.