Adria: Series qualifying report

Davide Rigon (RSC Anderlecht) made his home knowledge count with a dominant performance to take pole position in round 8 of Superleague Formula by Sonangol at Adria International Raceway today. The Italian, one of the few drivers on the grid to...

Davide Rigon (RSC Anderlecht) made his home knowledge count with a dominant performance to take pole position in round 8 of Superleague Formula by Sonangol at Adria International Raceway today.

The Italian, one of the few drivers on the grid to have raced at the twisty 2.702km track before, cruised to victory against John Martin (Beijing Guoan) in the final of the series' unique knockout format having been fastest for much of the day. He also topped the second Free Practice session, where he set a new outright lap record 1:06.077 and was also quickest of everyone in the Group Stages of qualifying.

Rigon, who lies third in the Superleague Formula League Table, also saw his title hopes take a huge boost as the top two, Yelmer Buurman (AC Milan) and Craig Dolby (Tottenham Hotspur), struggled in qualifying leaving them eighth and ninth on the grid respectively for race 1 tomorrow.

Buurman was comfortably beaten by Rigon, having squeezed into the quarter finals from Group A, but Dolby didn't even get to the knockout stages having missed the cut in Group B by just sixth thousandths of a second.

Martin continued his fine form to net his second successive front row start after showing his pace by topping Group A and then defeating impressive newcomer Frederic Vervisch (Liverpool) and Alvaro Parente (FC Porto) in the quarter and semi finals before a lock-up at turn 1 in the final ended his hopes of pole.

Parente will start third on the grid alongside Ben Hanley (Olympiacos), who starred as the Greek club's replacement for the injured Chris van der Drift to make it through to the semi finals on his Superleague Formula debut.

Fifth on the grid will be Max Wissel (FC Basel) who lost his quarter final to Hanley, with Julien Jousse (AS Roma), Vervisch and Buurman in sixth, seventh and eighth.

While Dolby's exit in Group B was the biggest shock of the first part of qualifying, Group A also saw a handful of notable casualties including the in-form Duncan Tappy (Flamengo) and Brands Hatch pole-winner Marcos Martinez (Sevilla).

Robert Doornbos (Corinthians), Tristan Gommendy (Galatasaray) and newcomers Celso Miguez (Olympique Lyonnais) and Hywel Lloyd (PSV Eindhoven) were the others to fail to make it out of their respective groups.

Superleague Formula's only female driver, Maria de Villota (Atletico Madrid), didn't take part in qualifying after suffering a recurrence of an old injury during practice that was causing her neck pain and numbness in her right arm and shoulder. After sitting out the session on the advice of the series' doctor, she is rated as doubtful to appear in Sunday's races.

While Rigon now holds the new Adria lap record after his performance in Free Practice, all 16 drivers dipped below the circuit's previous best time at some point during the day.

Davide Rigon (RSC Anderlecht): "I'm very happy to have taken pole position here. It wasn't easy but the car felt really good apart from a small problem we had during the semi final. There is definitely more speed in the car and on new tyres tomorrow we will see how we go. Of course it is important to score big points in the races on Sunday, but the championship won't be won or lost here in Adria."

John Martin (Beijing Guoan): "It's very good to be on the front row, but I'm a bit disappointed that my mistake in the final cost me the chance of pole position. Davide did a good job though and we've got new tyres for tomorrow so we will see what the race brings. It's difficult to pass here, but our car feels good on old and new tyres.

Alvaro Parente (FC Porto): "I'm very happy. My last two race weekends (in the Le Mans Series and GP2) have gone well so this is a good start too! If you're a good driver you have to be able to jump into different types of cars and that's what I'm trying to do. Our car is missing a bit in the first sector, so we'll work on that tonight, but tomorrow is a good chance to get some strong points."

Ben Hanley (Olympiacos): "I'm relatively pleased with that performance. The car feels good on old and new tyres so fourth is a good place to start the race. We were second quickest in the first free practice session when everyone was on old tyres, so that bodes well. I haven't raced for quite a while so I am really looking forward to it."

You can catch all of tomorrow's race action live on the Superleague Formula website, while UK viewers can see coverage of all three races on ESPN (Sky 417, Virgin Media 529, BT Vision 34) from 10.45am and 5.45pm.

-source: superleague formula

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Series SF
Drivers Davide Rigon , Robert Doornbos , Tristan Gommendy , Alvaro Parente , Marcos Martinez , Maria de Villota , Celso Miguez , Julien Jousse , Yelmer Buurman , Frederic Vervisch , Maximilian Wissel , John Martin , Duncan Tappy , Ben Hanley , Craig Dolby , Hywel Lloyd