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Robert Doornbos grabs Nürburgring pole
Robert Doornbos
AC Milan ace Robert Doornbos returned to his pre-season testing form to grab pole position for round two of the Superleague Formula championship at the Nurburgring today.

Doornbos set the fastest time in the Group B qualifying session, stopping the clocks at 1 minute, 42.920 seconds. He went on to beat FC Porto’s Tristan Gommendy in the Quarter Final and new Corinthians driver Antonio Pizzonia in his Semi-Final.

The Dutch ex-Formula 1 and Champ Car ace was due to face Galatasaray’s Alesandro Pier Guidi in the pole position shoot-out, but the Italian was unable to take to the track for the final due to fuel issues.

The surprise star of qualifying was young German racer Max Wissel aboard the FC Basel car. Wissel - the least experienced of the Superleague Formula drivers - set the fastest overall time in qualifying for the Swiss club in Group A - setting a time of 1:42.652. He continued to show strong pace in the Quarter and Semi Finals, defeating Flamengo in the Quarter Final and leading Galatasaray in his Semi before suffering an oil problem which forced him to abandon the lap.

Other losing Quarter Finalists included Liverpool’s Adrian Valles (lost to Corinthians) and RSC Anderlecht’s Craig Dolby (lost to Galatasaray). Flamengo’s top eight qualifying performance was offset by a penalty imposed for crossing the checkered flag twice at the end of his Quarter Final.

A number of the leading stars from the opening round of the championship at Donington were unable to make an impact in qualifying today.  AS Roma’s Enrico Toccacelo suffered an off-track excursion and finished the Group A session at the base of the timesheet while Donington race 2 winner Borja Garcia was late to start the Group B session due to engine issues and didn’t record a flying lap.

Championship leader Davide Rigon could only manage 7th fastest in the Group B session while German fans will have their sights set on a fightback from Borussia Dortmund’s Nelson Philippe tomorrow. The BVB driver was unlucky not to make the top four in Group A - missing out by only .056 of s second. PSV Eindhoven’s Yelmer Burrman’s luck also deserted him in qualifying in Group B - he missed out on a top four shoot-out position by only 0.062 of a second.

Tomorrow’s first race will kick off at 11.00am with the second reverse grid event scheduled for 2.00pm. Both races will run to 44 minutes, plus 1 lap and will include pit stops for the first time.

“It was a long day today with the new extended practice and qualifying, but I really like it. Donington was disappointing but there wasn’t much I could do - if the car doesn’t work I can’t do miracles. The car needs to be able to drive to improve the set-up and to go fast.  “I was very unlucky and didn’t get to race at all, so basically my championship starts here. Hopefully I can kick off with some good points and snatch a win tomorrow.”

“I ended up doing a lot of laps in qualifying and for me it wasn’t possible for me to take part in the last shoot-out because we didn’t have enough fuel in the car.  “Unfortunately, I had to do extra laps as this is my first time at the Nurburgring and I only did four laps in practice this morning.  “I had to improve my knowledge of the circuit and qualifying was my only chance to do this.”

“It is great to here at the Nurburgring after such a long time and its great to be part of this championship. I have a lot of positives to look back on from qualifying but I am a little bit disappointed to not be on pole because I think we had the car to do it. “I think it is a great day for me - my first time in the car. I did about three flying laps this morning before qualifying. This is a great achievement for myself and the team. They have been working very hard to make this happen and lets hope we have a great race for Corinthians tomorrow.”

“I don’t know what happened exactly in the Semi Final but I had a little problem with the oil pressure and had to stop the lap.  “I was really fast in the first sector - my best of the whole weekend – so it was a little disappointing that that happened.  “For sure I am disappointed but for tomorrow I will start from fourth and I have a great chance to grab a podium or top five. We will see what happens tomorrow.”

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