Portimao: Series qualifying report

Martin gets revenge with Portimao pole John Martin (Beijing Guoan) took revenge on Superleague Formula by Sonangol rival Davide Rigon (RSC Anderlecht) by narrowly winning the qualifying Final at Portimao to give him pole...

Martin gets revenge with Portimao pole

John Martin (Beijing Guoan) took revenge on Superleague Formula by Sonangol rival Davide Rigon (RSC Anderlecht) by narrowly winning the qualifying Final at Portimao to give him pole position for tomorrow's first race.

Having lost to the Italian in the final during the last round at Adria two weeks ago, the Australian bounced back in style as his time of 1:33.149, the fastest of the knockout stages, was just two tenths quicker than Rigon’s and netted him a second pole position of the season.

Rigon, who set the fastest time of the weekend in the group stages, a 1:32,713, is still well placed to continue his championship charge and will line up alongside Martin on the front row.

Max Wissel (FC Basel) starts third after a fine recovery following a blown engine in practice on Friday. His GU Racing team did an incredible job to change the powerplant in time and the German driver, who entered qualifying having driven just eight laps all weekend, rewarded them by topping Group B and then beating Duncan Tappy (Flamengo) in the quarter final. He eventually lost to Martin in the semis.

Andy Soucek (Galatasaray) was the other losing semi-finalist and he will start fourth. The Spaniard, whose car is also being run by GU Racing this weekend, didn’t have the pace to beat Rigon in the semis, but was happy with his performance as he came through the group stages and defeated Robert Doornbos (Corinthians) in his quarter final.

Doornbos will start fifth alongside championship leader Craig Dolby (Tottenham Hotspur) while fellow losing quarter finalists Tappy and home favourite Alvaro Parente (FC Porto) share row four.

Earlier, in the Group Stages, Wissel’s best time of 1:33.384, which was fastest of all in Group B, wouldn’t have been quick enough to even make it out of Group A.

The closeness of that group meant that series newcomer Neel Jani (Olympiacos) missed out on the knockout stages by just one tenth of a second, while Frederic Vervisch (Liverpool FC), who was fastest of anyone in practice on Friday, also failed to progress.

The biggest shock of all though surrounded title protagonist Yelmer Buurman (AC Milan). With a time only good enough for seventh fastest in Group A, the Dutch driver will start Sunday’s first race from 13th on the grid, seven places behind title rival Dolby and 11 adrift of Rigon.

John Martin (Beijing Guoan FC): “I couldn’t let Davide have two pole positions in a row could I? I knew it would be a tough final against him as he was so quick yesterday, but I didn’t make any mistakes and when I saw the time come up on the dashboard I was just praying it would be good enough. I’m really happy with pole because I’m not feeling too well today. It started yesterday and was worse this morning, but hopefully I’ll feel a bit better for the race on Sunday."

Davide Rigon (RSC Anderlecht): “The front row is fantastic news for us and for the championship. We were fastest of all on new tyres but the car was more difficult to drive as the tyres got older. At Adria John was faster than me on old tyres, but he made a mistake in the Super Final so I got pole. That didn’t happen today and he did a great job and beat me. My main goal tomorrow is still to win, but we won’t take too many risks as we’re still thinking about the championship.”

Max Wissel (FC Basel): “We only did eight laps yesterday before the engine was finished and even then we were 15km/h down on the straights. You need to get a feel for this track, but we haven’t had the time to do that, so I never expected to be third on the grid. My lap against John (Martin) in the semi final was good, just not good enough, but the team has done a great job and I’m very happy.”

Andy Soucek (Galatasaray): “I think some of the GU Racing magic has brought me here! It’s a great effort for the team to have two drivers on the second row. They only found out they were running the Galatasaray car at the last minute and they haven’t had much time to work on the car, but it still feels really stable. With a bit more time we will be even quicker.”

-source: superleague formula

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Series SF
Drivers Davide Rigon , Robert Doornbos , Neel Jani , Alvaro Parente , Andy Soucek , Frederic Vervisch , John Martin , Duncan Tappy , Max Wissel , Craig Dolby