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Seville and Bourdais net opening Monza race

Sebastien Bourdais picked up from where he had left off in Estoril by winning the first Superleague Formula by Sonangol race at Monza today after a commanding performance for Spanish side Seville.

The Frenchman backed up his Shootout win on debut last month by beating fellow Portugal winner Olympiacos’ Esteban Guerrieri down to the first corner before reeling off the 40 minute +1 lap race in relative ease. Series debutant Julien Jousse completed the podium for AS Roma while Liverpool came through from eighth to fourth to increase their lead at the top of the standings from Tottenham, who finished fifth. Fellow title-protagonists FC Basel could only manage ninth.

The start proved typically chaotic as the field ploughed into the braking zone for the first chicane. Both Bourdais and Wissel reacted quickly at the lights and were three abreast with Guerrieri into the corner. And it was the Frenchman who emerged ahead at the other side with Olympiacos surviving to slot into second. Behind, home side AC Milan were shuffled back with Giorgio Pantano slipping from fourth to ninth by the end of lap one.

The top two then began to stretch their legs, Bourdais maintaining an advantage of just under a second from Guerrieri as Wissel dropped back. Soon, a queue of cars had formed behind the German with Monza’s long straights offering plenty of slipstreaming opportunities.

The action was frenetic as Wissel first lost out to Jousse, then Galatasaray’s Ho Pin Tung, before falling into the clutches of championship rivals Tottenham and Liverpool, who had both made ground at the start. By the beginning of lap five the trio were right together with Adrian Valles deploying his push-to-pass system to first dispatch Tottenham’s Dolby and then Basel around the outside of the first chicane. Spurs soon followed suit before Wissel was also overhauled by Corinthians’ Antonio Pizzonia.

There was just time for Liverpool to nip past Galatasaray before the pit stops at the end of lap eight when Seville led in Roma, Liverpool, Tottenham, Milan and Anderlecht. Olympiacos pitted the following lap and although Guerrieri was unable emerge ahead of Bourdais, the gap was down to just half a second. Tottenham meanwhile picked up a place thanks to smart pit work from his mechanics to jump Tung while Milan’s dismal start continued when Pantano endured a lengthy delay.         

By lap 13 the leaders were right together as they closed on Atletico Madrid who had inherited the lead by delaying its pit stop. Any opportunity appeared to be over for Guerrieri when Bourdais swept around the outside at Parabolica but the Argentine wasn’t finished, picking up Maria de Villota’s slipstream to scythe past along the pit straight before challenging Bourdais down the inside into the chicane. The Frenchman blocked though, slowing his pursuer and allowing Madrid to re-pass. It would be another half a lap before the Argentine could re-take the position, by which time Bourdais had stolen a march.

Back in the pack, Basel had fallen further behind, running as low as 11th before re-passing Rangers’ John Martin after an entertaining battle with the Australian. Ahead, Dolby’s mirrors were full of a charging Corinthians which had allowed Liverpool to eke out a three second cushion. And with less than five minutes remaining Pizzonia was ahead, the Brazilian immediately setting the fastest lap of the race once in clean air.

His work would go unrewarded however when a fuel surge problem three laps from home condemned him to tenth, still one place ahead of where he’d started.

At the front, Guarneri’s delay had gifted Seville a two second advantage. Despite the Argentine’s best efforts, he was unable to make up the lost time, taking the checkered flag 0.375 seconds behind race-winner Bourdais.

Julien Jousse offered the Italian fans something to shout about after an excellent run to third on his Superleague debut for AS Roma with league-leaders Liverpool extending their advantage at the top of the standings with fourth. Their closest rivals Tottenham slipped 62 points behind thanks to Dolby’s run to fifth from ninth while Yelmer Buurman put in another solid display for Anderlecht to come home sixth. Tristan Gommendy and FC Porto were seventh ahead of Galatasaray, FC Basal and Corinthians.

Driver quotes:

Sebastien Bourdais, Seville: “It was a good race. The start was in my favor because for some reason the pole is on the left. That sounds like a big issue for the pole-sitter but I was very happy about it! We were side by side at the start but I was on the inside so I made it stick. I think that Wissel was all over me when we got to where the track narrows and I think there was a bit of mayhem behind us as we pulled away. It was good, I was pretty happy with the car although we had a bit too much understeer. Then, on the second to last lap, I made a bit of a mistake at Ascari trying to extend the gap. He closed up and since I had used my push-to-pass he had the advantage.”

Esteban Guerrieri, Olympiacos: “I actually started second when you consider that I was on the outside, which was a disadvantage I would say because pole position at a rolling start should be on the inside. The race was fun. I had a good car and pushed a lot after the pit stop to catch Sebastien. I got him but then got blocked by another car. That allowed him to pull away so I pushed again to try and catch up. We have a strategy with the engineers concerning the push-to-pass but it didn’t work as expected. We got close at the finish but had to settle for second.”                   

Julien Jousse, AS Roma: “It was a great race and I am happy for myself, the team and AS Roma. It’s the first time I’ve driven the car. The beginning of the race was really hard because I did not understand how the push-to-pass button worked during the first three laps, so I had to learn! Then I found a good rhythm. We made a small mistake in the pit stop because the Rangers mechanics were in the way but my team did a great job and after I just controlled the gap back to Liverpool. I’m looking forward to the second race from the back. It will be more difficult but the car is competitive so I think we can get more points for the team.”

The second race starts at 3.15pm local time.

Race 1 - SF Round 5 Italy - Classification

1 18 Sevilla FC SF Racing Team S. Bourdais 41:26.833 25 laps
2 9 Olympiacos SF Racing Team E. Guerrieri 41.27.208 0.375
3 22 AS Roma SF Racing Team J. Jousse 41:41.763 14.930
4 21 Liverpool FC SF Racing Team A, Vallés 41:44.847 18.014
5 19 Tottenham Hotspur SF Racing Team C. Dolby 41:48.911 22.078
6 8 RSC Anderlecht SF Racing Team Y. Buurman 41:52.369 25.536
7 16 FC Porto SF Racing Team T. Gommendy 41:54.175 27.342
8 4 Galatasaray SF Racing Team H.P. Tung 41:56.401 29.568
9 10 FC Basel SF Racing Team M. Wissel 42:02.727 35.894
10 14 Corinthians SF Racing Team A. Pizzonia 42:05.211 38.378
11 17 Rangers FC SF Racing Team J. Martin 42:18.567 51.734
12 24 FC Midtjylland Racing Team K. Andersen 42:22.153 55.320
13 69 Olympique Lyonnais SF Racing Team N. Panciatici 42:23.640 56.807
14 15 Atlético de Madrid SF Racing Team M. de Villota 42:32.494 1:05.661
15 3 AC Milan SF Racing Team G. Pantano 42:37.678 1:10.845
16 5 PSV Eindhoven SF Racing Team C. Van Dam 42:40.421 1:13.588
17 7 Flamengo SF Racing Team J. Kennard 43:01.553 1:34.720
18 2 Sporting Clube de Portugal SF Racing Team P. Petiz 16.49.695 15 laps

Race 2 Grid
Row 9 18- Sevilla FC 17- Olympiacos
Row 8 16- AS Roma 15- Liverpool
Row 7 14- Tottenham Hotspur 13- RSC Anderlecht
Row 6 12- FC Porto 11- Galatasaray
Row 5 10- FC Basel 9- Corinthians
Row 4 8- Rangers FC 7- FC Midtjylland
Row 3 6- Olympique Lyonnais 5- Atlético de Madrid
Row 2 4- AC Milan 3- PSV Eindhoven
Row 1 2- Flamengo 1- Sporting Clube de Portugal
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