Superleague forced to cancel final Beijing race
Alvaro Parente (FC Porto) clinched victory in race 2 at the Beijing International Street Circuit but the packed crowds were denied the chance to see Superleague Formula by Sonangol’s exciting Super Final as the five-lap dash-for-cash was cancelled due to deteriorating track and weather conditions.
Rain, fog and fading light meant that stewards took the sensible decision not to run the event-ending race, meaning that the €100,000 check for the ‘weekend winner’ was handed to Earl Bamber (PSV Eindhoven), who scored most points from the two 40-minute feature races, for the second time in seven days. Unbelievably, the New Zealander takes home the cash having started last on the grid for race 1.
Craig Dolby (Tottenham Hotspur) was second in the final weekend classification and collects €75,000 with third going to Frederic Vervisch (Liverpool) who takes home €50,000, a just reward after two superb overtaking-filled performances from the Belgian.
Race 2 was a chaotic, red-flag interrupted affair, as weather conditions changed mid-race and several drivers went off in the slippery conditions.
Pole-sitter Davide Rigon (RSC Anderlecht) led at the start but lost his advantage when Marcos Martinez (Sevilla) dived down his inside into turn 12 on the second lap and Parente followed him through. The Italian would retire with handling problems on the next tour after dropping further down the order.
As the rain began to fall just prior to the pit stops, Martinez’s hopes of a second feature race win of the season ended when he went straight on up the escape road at turn 1. By the time he rejoined the Spaniard had lost several places.
That handed the lead to Parente, but, despite changing to wets during his compulsory pit stop, he too then spun while trying to lap Franck Perera (Bordeaux) as conditions worsened and the race was red flagged as his car was stranded in a dangerous position on the exit of turn 5. Others to go off in a crazy couple of laps included John Martin (Beijing Guoan) at turn 12 and Julien Jousse (AS Roma), after a tap from the Australian at the turn 9/10 chicane.
After a brief pause on the starting grid to move Parente’s car, the race was restarted for five minutes, with the Portuguese driver allowed to lead the pack away despite his earlier rotation due to the rule of taking the result back one lap before a red flag flies.
Immediately on the first lap Giacomo Ricci (Galatasaray) spun while running fourth, the field scattering to avoid him and Martinez in particular showing incredible car control to dive to the left before holding a massive slide.
In gloomy conditions as the fog rolled in and darkness fell, Parente defended hard out front from Bamber to take victory in the short dash to the flag while Buurman completed the podium by holding off Martinez in fourth.
Paul Meijer was fifth for Atletico Madrid ahead of Martin and Vervisch, with race 1 winner Dolby in eighth and Adrian Valles (Sporting Lisbon) and Perera rounding out the top ten.
Earl Bamber (PSV Eindhoven): “I can’t believe it. We started last on the grid for race 1 so I never thought we’d be leaving with a check for €100,000! It was so dark when they restarted the race that I couldn’t even see the buttons on my steering wheel! I just followed Alvaro (Parente) and watched his rear light to see what line he was taking. Maybe China is lucky for me. I certainly can’t complain about €200,000 in two weekends!”
Craig Dolby: (Tottenham Hotspur): “Considering the main aim this weekend was to make sure we conserved the car for Navarra, it hasn’t been too bad. Race 2 was a bit tricky and I didn’t want to damage the car. That can be frustrating from a racer’s point of view but it was the sensible thing to do. My confidence is back and so is the team’s. We’ve proved we can come here, race and still go to Navarra to fight for the title and not everyone can say that.”
Frederic Vervisch (Liverpool): “It’s been a really good weekend and the result is excellent considering from where I started the first race. Qualifying wasn’t good but we continued to work hard afterwards and we were fast in both races. I’m happy that the car is in one piece and I’m holding a check! I would have liked to have raced in the Super Final, but on the other hand you saw what happened in Ordos when drivers are racing for money, so maybe it was a good decision!”