Bernoldi is the boss Enrique Bernoldi has established himself as the early season favourite for the coveted World Series by Nissan title by taking two comfortable wins in front of 10,000 fans in the first round of the season at Jarama. The...
Bernoldi is the boss
Enrique Bernoldi has established himself as the early season favourite for the coveted World Series by Nissan title by taking two comfortable wins in front of 10,000 fans in the first round of the season at Jarama.
The outcome of the first race was decided before it even began. On the formation lap, Carlin Motorsport's Tiago Monteiro was weaving in order to warm his tyre on the start/finish straight. Unfortunately he put a wheel on the grass and spun. The car was undamaged and he resumed and took his place on the grid. However, pole sitter Bernoldi had already stopped in his slot, which would prove crucial later on--
Bernoldi made an excellent getaway and quickly established an ominous looking lead in the early laps. However, Monteiro's car was working brilliantly and he homed in on the Brazilian, eventually making a daring move for the lead. Once ahead the Portuguese rookie simply drove away from the Brazilian GD Racing star. At this point his earlier mistake came back to haunt him.
Because the grid had started to be formed, the Jarama stewards had no choice but to award Monteiro a drive-through penalty for his earlier misdemeanour. The penalty only dropped him to second, such was the advantage enjoyed by the leading pair.
Going into the final lap, KTR's Bruce Jouanny held second, but a desperate lung by fourth-placed Juan Cruz Alvarez (Gabord Reyco) spun the Frenchman down to fourth, much to his disgust. RC Motorsport's Narain Karthikeyan was happy to bring the car home fifth in such conditions, while newcomer Ryo Fukuda did a great job to claim sixth place in the first outing for the Paul Belmondo Racing outfit.
Bernoldi was delighted with his result: "I've dominated the whole weekend, so I really feel I deserve this result," he said. "I was closing on Monteiro before his penalty, so I think I could have won the race anyway."
Monteiro accepted the blame for his mistake: "It's so annoying as it was my mistake. It was ours," he said. "The car was perfect in the conditions and I love driving in the wet."
Conditions were equally tricky for the second race, but yet again Bernoldi made an exemplary start and was a massive 5.3s ahead of the chasing pack at the end of lap one. From there he was able to control the race, and while his GD Racing machine was not ultimately the fastest car, he had the track position to ensure his first ever double race win in a World Series by Nissan round.
"I couldn't have done any better this weekend," Bernoldi added. "I am very happy to have overcome the conditions with only a few small mistakes, while others were spinning out."
Pons Racing star Heikki Kovalainen made a stunning start to vault from seventh to second during the first lap and the Finn looked set for a podium position right until the end. However, the handling problems, which had affected his car all weekend, returned late on and he was passed, first by the highly impressive Juan Cruz Alvarez and then Ryo Fukuda.
Alvarez was delighted to have scored a double podium finish in his first race.
"For me it's an amazing weekend. The team worked perfectly and two podiums means I am second in the championship. I hope I can stay there for the rest of the season."
Fukuda was equally as pleased to have finished third.
"The second race was very hard and if you lose concentration you went off and lost two or three places. I had a very good race with Kovalainen, I passed him then relaxed and went off and then passed him again."
Kovalainen eventually took fourth ahead of a charging Tristan Gommendy (Saulnier Racing) and Tiago Monteiro, who was unable to impress in the same way he had in the first race due to his 12th place starting position.
The next round is in Zolder in Belgium where rain is also commonplace. Can the others stop Bernoldi racing away with the title? Only time will tell.