SF

: Series Estoril qualifying report

Italian AS Roma fans will be eagerly awaiting the next round of the Superleague Formula championship at Vallelunga after their new driver Franck Perera earned the club's its first ever Superleague Formula pole position at Estoril today. Perara...

Italian AS Roma fans will be eagerly awaiting the next round of the Superleague Formula championship at Vallelunga after their new driver Franck Perera earned the club's its first ever Superleague Formula pole position at Estoril today.

Perara did battle in an all-Italian club shoot-out against AC Milan's Robert Doornbos to score the pole.

The 24-year-old rookie only drove the car for the first time this morning and became the second rookie in succession to earn the pole position in his Superleague Formula debut.

AS Roma became the fourth different qualifying pole-sitter in four rounds and the second Italian club to earn that honour.

Perera has spent the past two seasons racing in the US in Formula Atlantic, Indy Lights, Champ Car and IndyCar. He was fastest in the Group A qualifying session and went on to beat Corinthians's Antonio Pizzonia in the quarter final and Liverpool FC's Adrian Valles in the semi final.

Against both Liverpool and AC Milan, Roma was slower heading into the final sector of his flying lap, only to make up time in the last corner to snatch the victory.

The success of Perera mirrors that of Dutchman Paul Meijer who scored pole on debut at Zolder while driving for Borussia Dortmund.

Doornbos and AC MIlan have been the qualifying combo to beat all season. The Italian club is the only team to make the qualifying shoot-out in every round of the championship contested to date.

Championship leader Beijing Guoan (Davide Rigon) was defeated in the quarter finals by AC Milan and will start from position six in tomorrow's first race.

Portuguese club FC Porto (Tristan Gommendy) also fell at the quarter final stage, losing to Liverpool. Gommendy will start from position five.

After losing to AC Milan in the semi finals, Olympiacos driver Kasper Anderson will now start from position three -- a great comeback after a recent run of misfortune.

Five of the top seven in the championship standings failed to make the qualifying shootout today including second-placed PSV Eindhoven (13th on the grid), fourth placed RSC Anderlecht (9th), fith placed Sevilla (12th), sixth placed Tottenham Hotspur (18th) and seventh placed FC Basel (10th).

Tomorrow's first race will kick off at 11.00am with the second reverse grid event scheduled for 2.00pm. Both races are run to 44 minutes, plus 1 lap.

DRIVER QUOTES

FRANK PERERA (AS Roma)

"I am really happy. I just arrived yesterday and we made a seat and I am really glad to be in this series with AS Roma. It is great for me to drive for an Italian club as I lived in Italy for six years so it is good to work with Italian people. I am really looking forward to tomorrow and it is great to score a pole position already. The car was very good in the first two practice sessions and we improved run by run.

"The qualifying format is very exciting and after two years racing in America it is great to get the chance to come back and race in Europe again.

"I've raced Champ Car and IndyCar over the past year and the Superleague Formula car is a great concept of car. I think we can improve a few things but I think it has a very big future."

ROBERT DOORNBOS (AC Milan)

"I am happy with what we achieved. We had a bit of a chaotic morning. We were sixth in the first session and then improved to fourth, then third. We were confident before qualifying but we didn't want to touch the car any more because once you drive with the new tyres you just have to focus on every lap and make sure each one is the same.

"It asks a lot of the driver and you are in the car for a long time but I enjoy the format a lot even though I got beaten in the final. Congratulations to Franck - he can enjoy today because I think tomorrow will be different.

"If we go to Italy for the next round and have another two Italian clubs on the front row it will be great for the series."

KASPER ANDERSEN (Olympiacos)

"I am very happy for the team because they have been doing a good job. We were pretty quick all morning but in qualifying I was unable to beat Robert in the semi final. I was ahead early in the lap but I lost

too much time with mistakes in the final sector. "Having raced Formula Master here earlier this year, there is quite a big difference compared to the Superleague Formula car. The new tyres are extremely heavy to drive on the opening laps compared to Formula Master - the difference you really can not describe, you can't compare it."

ADRIAN VALLES (Liverpool FC)

"This morning we were strong and the car was really good. We knocked out Roma in the quarter final then we had a little bit of rain in the semi final against Roma.

"The car was quite good and I am really happy with the balance of the car but Roma was really fast in the final sector and I don't know how he did it. I watched his lines on television after but I still don't know how he did it.

"I hope we can do a good start tomorrow and fight for the win like we did in Zolder."

-credit: sf

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Series SF
Drivers Antonio Pizzonia , Davide Rigon , Robert Doornbos , Tristan Gommendy , Adrian Valles , Paul Meijer , Franck Perera