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Jarama: Series qualifying report

Beijing Guoan on pole as Martin stars in qualifying Australia may have made a bad start to the World Cup after a first game drubbing by Germany, while China haven't even qualified for the tournament in South Africa, but both nations are ...

Beijing Guoan on pole as Martin stars in qualifying

Australia may have made a bad start to the World Cup after a first game drubbing by Germany, while China haven't even qualified for the tournament in South Africa, but both nations are celebrating this evening as Aussie John Martin put Chinese club Beijing Guoan on pole position by winning the qualifying knock out at round 4 of Superleague Formula by Sonangol in Jarama.

Martin was fast in every session and was the only driver to dip below the 1 minute 21 second barrier in qualifying as he dominated a difficult Group A. He went on to beat championship leader Craig Dolby (Tottenham Hotspur) in the quarter final, fourth placed Max Wissel (FC Basel) in the semis and second place Yelmer Buurman (AC Milan) in the final to secure his first ever Superleague Formula pole position.

His battle with the in-form Buurman in the final was a dramatic affair as the Milan star led in the first sector, before Martin turned it around in sector 2 and crossed the finish line 0.254 seconds clear.

Buurman will start alongside Martin on the front row for tomorrow's first race, while the impressive Chris van der Drift (Olympiacos) will share the second row with Wissel, despite the fact that his car missed time in the morning's free practice session with an oil leak.

Row three will see beaten quarter finalists Franck Perera (Flamengo) and Sebastien Bourdais (Olympique Lyonnais) line up alongside each other, the latter unhappy with his set up and unable to repeat the qualifying heroics which saw him take pole position for Peugeot at last weekend's Le Mans 24 Hours.

English Premier League clubs Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur are on row four after losing their quarter final match ups, but both British drivers, James Walker and Dolby, will be hoping to challenge for the win on Sunday.

The major surprise of the group stages was the elimination of Davide Rigon in the RSC Anderlecht car. The Belgian club currently lay third in the Superleague Formula table, but the Italian driver has it all to do in tomorrow's first race, where he will start from the eighth row of the grid after a disappointing time in Group A.

Also out in the groups was AS Roma, sixth in the standings, as a frustrated Julien Jousse missed the top four cut off in Group A by just two tenths, while there was more misery for Spain, still reeling from its World Cup defeat by Switzerland, as both home clubs, Atletico Madrid (Maria de Villota) and Sevilla (Marcos Martinez), failed to make it through.

John Martin, Beijing Guoan FC: "To get pole for Beijing Guoan is just awesome. We've done a few things differently this weekend and the car is easy to drive and should be great in the race too. The boys have done a great job since Magny-Cours. They've worked tremendously hard and here is the result. I can't wait for tomorrow."

Yelmer Buurman, AC Milan: "To be on the front row is always good so I'm pretty happy. I had some luck in the Quarter Final as I made a mistake, but James (Walker) made the same mistake at the same corner and I got through. We're not quite where we want to be with the car just yet and I struggled a little in the final, but we'll work to fix that for tomorrow and hopefully we can claw back some points to Craig (Dolby) and Tottenham Hotspur."

Chris van der Drift: "It's looking good so far and I'm pleased with my qualifying. It's my first time here at Jarama and we missed some time in free practice this morning, but we still went P2 in our group. The track here is a lot smaller and bumpier than most of the others I've raced on, but the more laps I do the more I learn and I'm really looking forward to tomorrow."

Max Wissel, FC Basel: "I made a mistake on my best lap in the group but was still only a tenth slower than Yelmer, so I was happy with that. My quickest lap came in the knockout stages, which was good because I wasn't completely happy with the car as we were getting more and more understeer. Tomorrow is our chance to close the gap to Craig (Dolby) and we've got a good opportunity to move up to third in the table. We've got to get through the first corner before that though!"

-source: slf

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Series SF
Drivers Sébastien Bourdais , James Walker , Marcos Martinez , Maria de Villota , Julien Jousse , Yelmer Buurman , Chris van der Drift , John Martin , Max Wissel , Craig Dolby , Franck Perera