Zolder: Race report

Beautiful Day in Belgium For Carlin and Monteiro Zolder, 25 April 2004 -- Portugal's Tiago Monteiro completed a double for himself and Carlin Motorsport in the World Series by Nissan races Zolder today. The pair of victories (in front of 39 000...

Beautiful Day in Belgium For Carlin and Monteiro

Zolder, 25 April 2004 -- Portugal's Tiago Monteiro completed a double for himself and Carlin Motorsport in the World Series by Nissan races Zolder today. The pair of victories (in front of 39 000 spectators) were the first in the series for both Monteiro and the British team.

Monteiro was supreme in the first race. The Carlin driver began on pole, made a fantastic getaway and established a five-second lead by the third lap. Thereafter there was no need for him to push, victory was straightforward whilst many of his rivals struggled on the dusty old track.

"I pushed like crazy in the beginning," said Monteiro. "But I was quite surprised that I could build up such a big lead so quickly, even though I was driving like in qualifying. But I must say that although I could have kept pushing for a bigger lead, it wasn't as easy as it looked.

Behind Monteiro were Enrique Bernoldi (GD Racing) and Indian Narain Karthikeyan (Carlin Motorsport), and although Bernoldi had at least one excursion off-track, Karthikeyna was rarely close enough to think seriously about passing, especially with the thick layer of dust on the track on the approach to the first corner.

Heikki Kovalainen had to get past Ander Vilarino early on, bravely forcing the Spaniard into an error at the aforementioned first turn. Then the Pons driver got pretty close to Karthikeyan before almost sliding off himself at the same corner. After that his challenge for third was over.

Monteiro started the second (pitstop) race in third, on old tyres, and admitted that he didn't much hope to win it. Things didn't look much more hopeful when he failed to make up any ground off the startline. But after the pitstops he found himself leading the race from Heikki Kovalainen and early pace-setter Tristan Gommendy.

That's when the scares began for Monteiro, as backmarkers almost cost him the race. Kovalainen was already approaching Monteiro at quite a rate when the Carlin man came across a couple of slow runners. In an instant his little cushion was gone and Kovalainen lunged at a chance to take the lead at one of the numerous chicanes.

Fortunately for Monteiro the Finn outbraked himself. "If I had braked just a little erlier, I would have made it," said Kovalainen. "But the track was dity on the inside and I ended up running over the gravel." So Heikki had to settle for second, ahead of Gommendy, whose ploy of pitting last did not pay off as he dropped

from first to third.

"I am really happy to make history for the team," added Monteiro after his double win. "We made a lot of progress from Thursday through to Sunday and the weekend was just perfect. I didn't even know the track when we arrived here."

Monteiro now leads the championship, six points ahead of Bernoldi after the second weekend of racing. The series continues at Magny-Cours in France in late May.

WORLD SERIES LIGHT

Today's racing at Zolder was pretty exciting in both World Series Lights events. The first race went to Celso Miguez, but only after a last-corner collision. The second race was a runaway by Simon Abadie.

Abadie got pushed into the wall in the first few metres of the morning race, ruining his car and wasting his front-row start. That meant that Milos Pavlovic was free to lead the race in comfort, which he did. Until lap 14, that is, when he threw away a healthy lead with a spin. That left Bastien Briere chasing Matteo Pellegrino hard for the victory, and made for a thrilling last three laps.

Pellegrino defended manfully until the final chicane, where Briere got alongside. The two collided and Celso Miguez snuck through to take his first victory of the season.

There was little time for discussion after that incident, because the second race was upon the little field in no time. On this occasion Abadie got away fantastically and was never headed. Miguez slotted in behind him, ahead of Pavlovic and Pellegrino. But Pavlovic made another error, this time early in the race, and dropped to the rear end of the field.

Then Miguez went straight on in Turn 3 and spent an age in the gravel trap, which left Pellegrino holding off Bastien Briere and the recovering Pavlovic. Although the threesome got very close at times, nothing rash was done and the order behind the dominant Abadie remained the same until the end.

-rpm-

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About this article
Series Formula V8 3.5
Drivers Enrique Bernoldi , Tiago Monteiro , Heikki Kovalainen , Tristan Gommendy , Bastien Brière , Simon Abadie , Celso Miguez , Milos Pavlovic , Ander Vilarino
Teams Carlin