Dolby doubles down at Silverstone
Craig Dolby produced a star performance for Tottenham Hotspur in the opening Superleague Formula by Sonangol race of 2010, dominating at home circuit Silverstone to give the London club a dream start to the new season.
After helping Spurs finish second behind English Premier League rivals Liverpool in the final Superleague Formula league table in 2009, Dolby had used the pre-race build-up to state his intention of bringing the title to White Hart Lane this year and backed up his words with a simply stunning display.
From fourth on the grid, Dolby blasted away from the start and had already passed Liverpool’s new signing James Walker and Porto star Alvaro Parente by turn 1 before nailing pole man Max Wissel of Swiss club FC Basel into turn 2. He then proceeded to pull clear at a rate of two seconds per lap in the early stages, building a comfortable lead which never dipped below 12 seconds after lap 6, other than during his compulsory pit stop.
Dolby’s early-race heroics gave his pit crew the luxury of a leisurely, safe stop during Spurs’ mandatory tire change and the rest of the field never even came close to concerning the young Brit during the remainder of the race.
AC Milan took second place as winter signing Yelmer Buurman continued the tradition of Dutchman excelling with the Rossoneri. Starting from seventh, Buurman made a strong start and was elevated to fourth as Liverpool and FC Basel both spun in the early stages. A succession of quick laps prior to the pit window saw him leapfrog FC Porto during the stops and he grabbed second after hunting down and passing Flamengo’s Duncan Tappy in the second half of the race.
Tappy, making his Superleague Formula return and his debut for the Brazilian champions, did well to hang on to third at the checkered flag. He struggled on used tires after his stop but doggedly defended his position in the dying minutes from the flying Parente who had to settle for fourth, albeit with fastest lap.
Wissel recovered from a spin early in the race when running second to finish fifth, while Marcos Martinez managed an impressive series’ debut by holding onto sixth despite coming under strong pressure from Sporting Lisbon’s Borja Garcia, who had to settle for seventh.
Julien Jousse (AS Roma), Davide Rigon (Anderlecht) and John Martin (Atletico Madrid) completed the top ten, Martin losing two places late on with a spin at Copse Corner.
Sebastien Bourdais’ hopes of a strong result on his debut for French giants Lyon ended during his pit stop. He had briefly led after the top four pitted, but saw his race ruined after his engine stalled during his stop and ended up a lap down in 15th.
Tire gambles by Olympiacos and Galatasaray also backfired as the Greek and Turkish clubs opted to start the race on used wet tires on a damp but drying track. It quickly proved obvious that it was a wrong call as both Chris van der Drift (Olympiacos) and Tristan Gommendy (Galatasaray) struggled as the surface dried out and had to pit for slicks. They finished down in 13th and 14th respectively.
It was also a tough start to the season for reigning champions Liverpool, for who new signing Walker had impressed in qualifying. The Jersey-born driver had got ahead of Porto and was running third when he retired on lap 3 after spinning at Club and losing the engine as he tried to rejoin.
Race 2 will see a fully-reversed grid meaning Dolby will start from the back.
Craig Dolby, Tottenham Hotspur: “I think it sums it up that on the in-lap I forgot to talk to the team until two corners from the end, so it was a bit surreal really. I got all three guys in the first couple of corners and then thought it would be difficult being the first person to see where the grip was. I just kept pushing and pushing, had a few little moments but the gap got bigger. The team stopped putting the pit board out so I didn’t know how big the gap was! At the end they just said ‘bring it home’ and what a feeling it was. Unbelievable.”
Yelmer Buurman, AC Milan: “The start was quite difficult because there were some damp patches but I eventually managed to find good pace and a gap front to back. We had good pace throughout the race but once I got past Duncan Tappy the gap was too big to catch Tottenham. The second race will be difficult from the back but we will see what the weather does.”
Duncan Tappy, Flamengo:“I keep using the phrase ‘over the moon’ this weekend. I said if I got into the qualifying quarter finals I would be over the moon, said if I’d make the podium I’d be over the moon, so now if I make the Super Final, I will be over the moon! I think that’s what we’re hoping for now. That last race was exactly what we needed so I can’t complain too much. We’ll see what happens in the second race. It depends if people are a bit silly and fire it off all over the place!”
Failed Formula 1 racer Sebastien Bourdais overcame a slow pitstop to win the second Superleague Formula race for Lyon at Silverstone on Sunday.
Bourdais, who finished 15th in the first race after losing a lap in the pits when his car stalled and the starter motor broke, passed poleman James Walker (Liverpool) on the Hangar Straight on the opening lap. He pulled out a huge advantage.
Although he didn't stall this time by keeping the revs high as he pitted, the right-rear wheel jammed, causing a big delay again. That allowed Chris van der Drift to lead for Olympiacos, with Bourdais dropping to third behind Tristan Gommendy (Galatasaray). Even though Gommendy had pitted outside the window, and would have to serve a drive-through penalty, Bourdais battled past him on the approach to Stowe.
Bourdais then hunted down van der Drift and passed the Kiwi with six laps to go by using his puch-to-pass on the Hangar Straight. He went on to win by over 10 seconds.
"I knew we weren't going to be perfect in the pits because the guys worked really late and are very tired," said Bourdais. "But the car was really great."
Tottenham Hotspur’s Craig Dolby marked himself out as the man to beat in this year’s Superleague Formula by Sonangol after adding a Super Final victory to his race 1 win in the opening round of the 2010 season at Silverstone.
Dolby’s display for the London club not only netted two race wins, but also the championship lead and a prize fund of €100,000 after a near-perfect weekend at the home round of both driver and club.
In the five-lap Super Final for the best six performers from the weekend’s two feature races, Dolby started on pole position but was beaten off the line by the fast-starting Alvaro Parente in the FC Porto car. Parente’s lead didn’t last long however, as a scruffy opening lap saw him go wide twice and drop to the back of the pack.
Parente’s slide down the field left Dolby clear to win from FC Basel’s Max Wissel with Olympiacos’ Superleague Formula debutant, Chris van der Drift, a fine third. Race 2 winner Sebastien Bourdais, of French club Olympique Lyonnais, was fourth while Parente rescued fifth for Porto ahead of Atletico Madrid driver John Martin.
Earlier, in the reversed-grid race 2, Bourdais survived a slow pit stop to score Lyon’s first ever Superleague Formula win, making up for the disappointment of a frustrating opening race where a stall in the pits cost him the chance of a podium.
This time a sticking wheel gun during his mandatory pit stop wiped out the comfortable lead the Frenchman had pulled out in the first half of the race after passing Liverpool’s pole man James Walker at the start. He rejoined in third behind Galatasaray and Olympiacos and made short work of passing both before streaking clear to a comfortable 9.5 second victory.
The impressive Van der Drift marked his first ever Superleague Formula weekend with second place and qualification for the Super Final for Olympiacos, but Tristan Gommendy missed out on a podium for Galatasaray as he had to serve a drive-through penalty for making his mandatory pit stop one lap before the pit window had opened.
The Frenchman’s misfortune was good news for Atletico Madrid’s Australian driver Martin, who picked up third after a strong drive from seventh on the grid.
After starting from the back of the reversed field after his race 1 victory, Dolby once again flew the flag brilliantly for Tottenham Hotspur. He made up six places on the first lap and charged through to fourth at the checkered flag to put himself top of the first Superleague Formula league table of 2010.
Parente was a solid fifth for FC Porto ahead of FC Basel’s Max Wissel, Corinthians’ Robert Doornbos and Franck Montagny of series’ newcomers Bordeaux. Marcos Martinez (Sevilla) and Davide Rigon (Anderlecht) completed the top ten.
Liverpool made the worst possible start to their title defense as James Walker posted a second DNF of the weekend after retiring midway through the race. After spinning out of third in race 1, the Jersey driver was running strongly again in second place in race 2 when another spin saw him drop to the back of the field before pulling into the pits to retire with a mechanical problem after ten laps.
Craig Dolby (Tottenham Hotspur): “It was my birthday on Wednesday so this a fantastic late present! We’ve had a great weekend and although I was confident coming into the races, I have to admit that I was surprised by quite how fast we were! It’s a very long season though and the other guys will push us hard so we won’t be getting carried away just yet.”
Max Wissel (FC Basel): “I made a mistake in the first race but still managed to get P5 and the second race went quite well too, as we got better and better as it went on after a few early problems. Second in the Super Final is a great result and now we must continue to work harder and harder to make sure we are here on the podium at every round.”
Chris van der Drift (Olympiacos): “Considering I stepped into the car for the first time on Thursday, this result is fantastic. We got better and better in each race so I’m already looking forward to the next round in Assen. I’ve actually never driven there before but at least I now know the car a bit better.”
Sebastien Bourdais (Olympique Lyonnais): “Our pace was good in the first race, it was just a shame that the engine stalled in the pits. In race 2 we put everything together and it worked out well. The Super Final is always hard if you don’t start from the front, but overall I’m really happy for all the boys in the team because they’ve worked until 4am for two or three nights this weekend to prep the car.”
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