Bourdais takes first pole
Sevilla’s Sebastien Bourdais took his first Superleague Formula by Sonangol pole position in qualifying at Jarama, but the title race was blown wide open as both Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur failed to make it out of the group stages.
|Buurman (L) congratulates Bourdais (R) after being beat to the pole by just 0.006s in the shootout|
Spurs, who trailed their Premier League rivals by 49 points heading into this weekend’s final round of the 2009 season, missed out on a place in the knockout stages of qualifying by just two one hundredths of a second, meaning driver Craig Dolby will start Sunday’s first race in tenth.
Liverpool driver Adrian Valles will be even further back on the 18-car grid after finishing seventh, two places behind Dolby, in qualifying Group B. The Spaniard was clearly disgruntled when he felt his best lap was ruined after he was caught up behind Anderlecht’s Yelmer Buurman. He will start race 1 from 14th.
The battle for pole position was a stunner as Sevilla beat Anderlecht by six thousandths of a second in the final, the closest margin in Superleague Formula history. Bourdais continued his fine run of form since joining the series from Formula One, with a superb qualifying display. His victory for the Spanish club over Buurman came after the French driver had topped his qualifying group before defeating Nelson Panciatici of Lyon and Esteban Guerrieri of Olympiacos in the Quarter and Semi-Finals.
Buurman’s path to the final saw him produce impressive comeback victories over FC Basel’s Max Wissel, who went fastest of anyone in practice and the group stages of qualifying, and Corinthian’s Antonio Pizzonia, a three time pole winner this season, in the knockout stages. In both match-ups Buurman trailed his opponent in the first two sectors of the 2.391 mile lap but turned things around in the third to win.
Olympiacos will start Sunday’s race from third on the grid ahead of Corinthians, with Galatasaray, for whom Ho-Pin Tung enjoyed one of his best displays of the season, fifth and AC Milan sixth. Lyon line-up seventh, after Panciatici’s best qualifying performance of the season, with FC Basel completing the top eight.
Earlier, in the group stages, AS Roma became the first high-profile qualifying casualty when Julien Jousse failed to make it out of Group A. The Frenchman had set the second best time of anyone in free practice but was knocked out late in the session thanks to superb last gasp efforts from FC Basel and Olympiacos. 2009 race winners Tristan Gommendy (FC Porto) and John Martin (Rangers) also went out.
The biggest shock of all was reserved for Group B though, and both Liverpool and Tottenham will now be anxious to avoid any costly incidents as they try to negotiate a congested midfield in their search for big points at the tight Madrid circuit during tomorrow’s first race.
Sebastien Bourdais (Sevilla): “I’m very pleased to have my first pole position in Superleague Formula. We had a very productive morning in practice and improved the car throughout. It was very strong in qualifying, but the key here is to make as few errors as possible as it is so easy to make a mistake at this circuit, particularly as the tires start to go off. A good start will be important in tomorrow’s race as it will be difficult to overtake here.”
Yelmer Buurman (RSC Anderlecht): “I’m very happy to be on the front row and to have been fighting for pole position. Of course I can look back and think, ‘maybe I’d be on pole if I’d braked a little later here or there’, but second is still good. I don’t think I slowed Adrian (Valles) in the group stages as he was still a couple of car lengths behind me at that corner.”
Esteban Guerrieri (Olympiacos): “I’m hoping to finish second in the championship this weekend, so the second row is not too bad as the guys I am chasing are quite a bit further back down the grid. You have to be very precise with your driving in order to remain mistake-free here and tomorrow will be very demanding on the tires. The driver who shows most intelligence in that aspect will win.”
Adrian Valles (Liverpool): “It was a shame because we had some traffic in qualifying so we couldn’t do our best lap. The good news is Tottenham didn’t get through the group either so there’s no pressure for the championship situation. I just hope that there are no crashes or anything tomorrow and that we can do a good job.”
Craig Dolby (Tottenham Hotspur): “We didn’t have optimum traction on the car so there will be some big changes overnight so we’re ready to kick some ass tomorrow! I’m ahead of the red car so that’s all right, and he (Valles) was quite rattled at the end of qualifying which isn’t how you act when you’ve got a 49 point lead! If I was on pole and he was back there then fair enough but when we’re both close together on the grid and he still gets fired up then it makes me think it could be a good day tomorrow!”
Qualification Final Classification
Qualifying Group A
||FC Basel SF Racing Team
||Olympiacos SF Racing Team
||Corinthians SF Racing Team
||Olympique Lyonnais SF Racing Team
||AS Roma SF Racing Team
||FC Midtjylland SF Racing Team
||Rangers FC SF Racing Team
||FC Porto SF Racing Team
||Atlético de Madrid SF Racing Team
||M. de Villota
Qualifying Group B
||Sevilla FC SF Racing Team
||Galatasaray SF Racing Team
||AC Milan SF Racing Team
||RSC Anderlecht SF Racing Team
||Tottenham Hotspur SF Racing Team
||Sporting Clube de Portugal SF Racing Team
||Liverpool FC SF Racing Team
||Flamengo SF Racing Team
||PSV Eindhoven SF Racing Team
||C. van Dam
Pole Position Shoot Out
||Sevilla FC SF Racing Team
||RSC Anderlecht SF Racing Team
Race 1 Grid
|17- Atlético de Madrid
||18- PSV Eindhoven |
||15- FC Porto
||16- Flamengo |
||13- Rangers FC
||14- Liverpool FC |
||11- FC Midtjylland
||12- Sporting Clube de Portugal |
||9- AS Roma
||10- Tottenham Hotspur |
||7- Olympique Lyonnais
||8- FC Basel |
||6- AC Milan |
||4- Corinthians |
||1- Sevilla FC
||2- RSC Anderlecht |