|Robert Doornbos celebrates|
Late-race problems denied Liverpool's Adrian Valles a deserved win at Jerez and handed the inaugural Superleague Formula title to Beijing Guoan.
Valles led from pole and was over 10 seconds ahead when his car slowed with the checkered flag in sight. At the start of the final lap he was passed by the AC Milan car of Robert Doornbos, who claimed the win while Valles finally limped home eighth, which became seventh when Antonio Pizzonia was handed a 30-second penalty after the race.
That was enough to give the Beijing team, which struggled to finish 9th, the title.
|Davide Rigon clinched title with a 7th place result|
After a mistake in qualifying yesterday, Davide Rigon drove a steady race from the rear of the grid to finish ninth – earning enough points to clinch the crown. But while Rigon enjoyed a calm finish to his title season, the race at the front of the pack was full of action.
Liverpool FC’s Adrian Valles led off the start and by the time each club had completed their compulsory pit stops, the Reds had opened up a gap of more than 10 seconds.
Atletico Madrid’s Andy Soucek had set his sights on using a long opening stint to challenge for the win but this came unstuck when he spun entering the pit lane.
The Reds looked set to clinch their third victory of the year only to suffer a fuel pressure problem approaching the last lap board.
The Liverpool machine slowed dramatically, allowing AC Milan’s Robert Doornbos to sweep past to grab his second victory of the season. The victory improved upon Doornbos’ recent form which included three runner-up positions in the past four races.
Drama also struck Corinthians driver Antonio Pizzonia. The ex-Formula 1 driver crossed the line in second place but received a post race 30 second penalty for making his compulsory pit stop outside the prescribed window (lap eight to 20).
This allowed FC Porto’s Tristan Gommendy to clinch second ahead of Tottenham Hotspur’s Duncan Tappy.
The result from Porto backed up Gommendy’s victory at the previous round at Vallelunga and delighted the bus loads of Porto fans who had travelled overnight from Portugal.
RSC Anderlecht’s Craig Dolby clinched the fastest lap of the race en route to fourth place followed by Franck Perera (AS Roma), local star Borja Garcia (Sevilla), Valles (Liverpool), Yelmer Buurman (PSV Eindhoven) and new champion Davide Rigon (Beijing). Al Ain’s Bertrand Bagette completed the top ten.
|(L to R) Tristan Gommendy (2nd), Robert Doornbos (1st) and Duncan Tappy (3rd)|
Beijing now holds a 56 point gap in the championship with 373 points ahead of PSV Eindhoven, 317; Liverpool FC 317; AC Milan, 317; RSC Anderlecht, 280; AS Roma, 275; FC Porto, 263; Tottenham Hotspur, 247; Sevilla FC, 246; Galatasaray, 241; Corinthians, 219; Al-Ain, 218; FC Basel, 199; Rangers, 198; Flamengo, 183; Borussia Dortmund, 168; Olympiacos, 154 and Atletico Madrid, 120.
This afternoon’s second reverse grid will kick off at 2.00pm.
ADRIAN VALLES (Liverpool FC)
“You never wish somebody else has bad luck but after all the misfortune we have had, I’ll take this one.
“When the team said Liverpool had a problem on the radio I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to bring any bad luck on myself.
“I had low gearbox pressure already so I was doing everything I could to bring the car home.
“To grab the victory does feel really good. I knew I had a train of cars behind me because I was having issues with the downshift.
“I had to keep concentrating and make no mistakes - AC Milan, victory - perfect”
TRISTAN GOMMENDY (FC Porto)
“It is really nice to be here again because the race was quite tough. My pit stop was a little bit too late because Liverpool was able to jump ahead because the new tires make a big difference initially.
“The Corinthians car was slower than me but the team told me that car was going to receive a penalty so I couldn’t push too hard and take any risks.
“It would have been stupid to try to get past and make a mistake. I am really happy for the team and all the Porto fans who made the trip down to see the car this weekend.”
DUNCAN TAPPY (Tottenham Hotspur)
“I don’t know if I actually expected to end up on the podium after starting ninth but I’ll take it.
“I was having a good race and the team came on the radio and told me I was fourth – then as I was coming into the pits after the race they told me I was actually third.
“I was over the moon and it was really good to get a result for Tottenham again.
“I thought it would have been quite possible to pass, especially early in the race because I passed Galatasaray quite easily but I think they had a problem.
“But when I got caught up behind Porto it wasn’t as easy and I just had to play a sensible game and keep the car on the circuit.”
DAVID RIGON (Beijing Guoan) - 2008 CHAMPION
“Yesterday was disappointing with my mistake in qualifying.
“I was a bit nervous before the first race and I new Liverpool was in first place and I am very lucky to be the champion.
“It’s very good to be the first Superleague champion and I am very very happy.
“It was a very difficult year because everyone is a professional driver. We pushed very hard and we had a few problems with the car.
“I am going to enjoy myself in the second race but I will try and make the podium.
“I am very happy to have won the championship and it has helped my career. I am only 22 and we will see. I hope that someone from Formula 1 can help me, watch me and hopefully I can try and test for Formula 1 now.”
||+ 7 laps|
||Alessandro Pier Guidi