SLF: Reds ahead after round one

By Andy Darley

CalendarSunday, June 28th, 2009

 
 

Liverpool FC’s Superleague Formula team came away from Magny-Cours with a two-point lead in the standings after Adrian Valles won the first race of the day and managed sixth in the second contest despite starting at the back of the reversed grid.

Valles went on to win the so-called ‘Super Final’ between the top three cars from each race, beating GP2 champion and race two winner Giorgio Pantano in the AC Milan car. This third race is meaningless in the championship as it awards no points, but it does carry prize money for the winning team.

Valles said: “It’s been a very good weekend. I lead the championship and I aim to have extended that lead after the next races and stay on top.”

A second and fifth by Yelmer Buurman for Anderlecht means the Belgian club is breathing down Liverpool’s neck in the standings, with AC Milan third ahead of Craig Dolby’s Tottenham and FC Basel.

Dolby, who drove for Anderlecht last season, took third in race one behind Valles and Buurman. He said: “We started on old tyres but I got around the outside of the Liverpool and Anderlecht cars at the start before Liverpool got me back going into turn two.

“I didn’t stop exactly right in my pit box for the tyre change which delayed us. But on new tyres I was able to push hard and recover the places I’d lost due to the stop. I pressed the Anderlecht car hard for second place but came up a little short. Nevertheless I’m very proud to give Spurs a podium on my debut.”

As the third-placed finisher he should have also raced in the Super Final at the end of the day, but his team were unable to fix a mechanical problem that struck late in the second race and he was unable to take part.

Valles and Dolby celebrate after taking first and third in race one

Valles and Dolby celebrate after taking first and third in race one

Ex-F1 driver Antonio Pizzonia had started the race from pole for Brazilian club Corinthians but conceded the lead to Valles on lap five and lost places during his pit stop because of a sticking wheel. He recovered to finish fourth, behind an untroubled Valles and a spirited battle between Buurman and Dolby.

The reverse grid for the second race saw Australian John Martin in the Glasgow Rangers car share the front row with polesitter Davide Rignon of Olympiacos, who won the title last year driving for Chinese club Beijing Guoan.

Martin got the better start, while from the second row AS Roma’s British driver Jonathan Kennard was able to hold off Pantano for three laps before surrendering third. Neither he nor Martin were able to finish the race, while Pantano emerged from the pitstops in the lead and was able to keep Rignon behind him for the rest of the race.

Dolby made his way from the penultimate row of the grid to lead the race during the pitstop cycle, but lost places later on and finished 10th, a place ahead of his predecessor in the Tottenham car Duncan Tappy, who was driving for Turkish club Galatasaray and had taken an impressive fifth in the first race.

“I was challenging for fourth place,” said Dolby, “but my car suffered a system pressure failure three laps from home causing me to slip back 10th – which was gutting because it not only meant I missed out on the Super Final but cost me some valuable points.”

Tappy was pleased with his results and his 10th place in the 18-car championship, given the short set-up time available to his team: “Very happy to finish fifth in the opening race, especially after starting from 12th on the grid. My only problem was some minor gearbox issues in the closing stages.

“I started on used tyres for race two and the car just didn’t like it – lost a lot of places. Once I’d pitted and taken on new tyres it was okay but I’d lost too much ground. Nevertheless Ultimate Motorsport only got their hands on my car a day before practice began so they’ve done a fantastic job.”

For Kennard and Martin, whose AS Roma and Rangers cars fill the bottom two places in the standings, there was less to be pleased about.

Kennard said: “Race one marked my first-ever rolling start in a race. Brake issues forced my retirement in race one and in race two, when challenging for fourth, I suffered a clutch problem – we’d been dicing so close that I actually touched the Al Ain car at one point.”

Martin, who replaced local driver Ryan Dalziel in the Rangers car, also suffered two DNFs: “My SLF race debut ended before it got going when I was hit on the opening lap of race one causing my retirement.

“Then in race two, I started from the front row, led for opening nine laps before pitting for the regulation tyre stop but a problem with the wheel jack cost me a lot of time and dropped me from first to 13th. I’d worked my way back into 10th when I went off at Estoril corner on lap 18 – the back end came around and that was the end for me.”

Standings after two races

  1. Liverpool FC, 79
  2. RSC Anderlecht, 77
  3. AC Milan, 64
  4. Tottenham Hotspur, 58
  5. FC Basel, 58
  6. Corinthians, 56
  7. Al-Ain FC, 56
  8. Flamengo, 52
  9. Olympiacos, 50
  10. Galatasaray, 48
  11. FC Porto, 33
  12. Sporting Clube de Portugal, 32
  13. FC Midtjylland, 31
  14. Olympique Lyonnais, 24
  15. Atlético de Madrid, 24
  16. PSV Eindhoven, 21
  17. AS Roma, 18
  18. Rangers FC, 13

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