Rodriguez wins at last

Gonzalo Rodriguez has become the first Uruguayan to win an FIA Formula 3000 race. "This is a very important day for me and for my country," said the former Edenbridge Racing driver, who fought his way through from sixth place on the grid. "I am very, very proud to have won a race at last. I think I have proved all season that I had the capacity to win this year, but today for the first time everything fell into place."

Rodriguez made a great start to lie third on the opening lap and second by lap two. He then shadowed pole position winner Juan Pablo Montoya until the Colombian ran wide at the Les Combes chicane on lap 18. "If Juan hadn't made that mistake I don't know whether I would have been able to pass him," said Rodriguez. "I knew I was potentially quicker and I was grateful to see an opportunity to pass. After that I was able to pull away quite easily."

Montoya's mistake cost him the opportunity to retake the championship lead, though he is now only one point adrift of Nick Heidfeld. "I ran wide after I missed a downshift," said Montoya. "That was frustrating, but at least we finished ahead of Nick so there is still everything to play for."

Frenchman Soheil Ayari finished third ahead of Heidfeld, who slipped back after making a poor start from the front row. "My car was okay in terms of lap times," said the German, "but it was not easy to drive and it took me a long time to adapt to the way it was handling. We are still leading the championship, however, so it could have been worse.

Alex Müller and Marcelo Battistuzzi finished fifth and sixth to score their first points of the season. Battistuzzi just held off Czech driver Thomas Enge, who ran second on the opening lap after making a flying start from row three. He later dropped back after a spin, however.

Edenbridge drivers Werner Lupberger and Max Wilson were classified 11th and 13th. "It was a fun race for me," said Lupberger, "because I was racing with people all the time. I lost a couple of places on the first lap but after that I was able to regain lost ground." Wilson, second at Spa last year, recovered ground lost in a disappointing qualifying session, though he said the weekend as a whole was frustrating. "The track is much faster this year than it was last," he said, "and the set-up we thought would work well was no longer as good as I had hoped it would be."