SF

: Series Estoril preview

PORTO FANS READY TO SEE THEIR SUPERLEAGUE FORMULA CAR IN ACTION AT ESTORIL The football-themed motor racing championship Superleague Formula heads to Portugal for the first time this weekend with FC Porto fans eager to see their car claim its ...

PORTO FANS READY TO SEE THEIR SUPERLEAGUE FORMULA CAR IN ACTION AT ESTORIL

The football-themed motor racing championship Superleague Formula heads to Portugal for the first time this weekend with FC Porto fans eager to see their car claim its first podium finish at Estoril.

FC Porto driver Tristan Gommendy has been a model of consistency throughout the inaugural championship. Porto is one of only two clubs to record race finishes in all six races staged to date. The Frenchman was also set to extend his run of top ten finishes to six in a row until being hit with a late race penalty at Zolder.

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Gommendy has prior impressive form at Estoril, the former home of the Portuguese Grand Prix. He took a pole position in World Series by Renault in 2005 at the seaside circuit and also clinched a podium finish.

Many of the Superleague Formula drivers are eagerly awaiting the chance to return to Estoril after strong results in the past. Liverpool FC’s Adrian Valles scored his first World Series podium there in 2004 while Beijing Guoan’s championship leader Davide Rigon and Olympiacos driver Kasper Andersen competed there in Formula Master in July.

Tottenham Hotspur’s Duncan Tappy is also heading to Portuguese circuit for the second time this year after a World Series outing last month.

Valles will actually hit the streets this Thursday aboard his Liverpool FC machine - heading off from the famous Casino Estoril Gardens. Valles will be on site from 14:30 before heading off at 15:00 from Avenida Marginal towards Cascais. The Liverpool car will head towards the Jumbo roundabout, where Valles will meet additional fans for around 10 minutes before heading back to Casino Gardens.

After three rounds and six races, 11 of the 18 Superleague Formula clubs have already scored a podium finish while 15 of the 18 have earned a spot in the top eight qualifying shootout.

AC Milan’s Robert Doornbos has been the most consistent qualifying performer - the Italian club is the only outfit to make the shoot-out in every round staged to date.

In other driver news, Dutch Zolder polesitter Paul Meijer will move to UAE club Al Ain in a transfer deal for the remainder of the season.

Originally built in 1972, the 4.36km (2.709m) Estoril circuit hosted the Portuguese Formula 1 Grand Prix from 1984 to 1996 and was the scene of Ayrton Senna’s first F1 victory in 1985. The circuit has hosted the Portuguese MotoGP since 2000 and has also played host to the DTM, FIA GT Championship and A1 Grand Prix championships.

With three Sueprleague Formula rounds remaining, Beijing Guoan leads the championship on 207 points followed by PSV Eindhoven (193); Liverpool FC (171); RSC Anderlecht (159); Sevilla FC (150); Tottenham Hotspur (149); FC Basel (146); AS Roma (143); FC Porto (138); AC Milan (126); Galatasaray (114); Rangers FC (112); Borussia Dortmund (108); Al Ain (103); Corinthians (97); Flamengo (96); Olympiacos (80) and Atletico de Madrid (64).

TRISTAN GOMMENDY (FC Porto)

"I am certainly aiming for a podium for the FC Porto fans because we improved the car in the dry conditions at Zolder but we never got the chance to show that pace in the two wet races.

"We were very fast in the dry in qualifying, but not so good in the wet.

"I think if the weather is good in Estoril we have a very good chance of starting at the front and aiming for a podium or even a victory.

"We really are looking forward to getting a good result in Portugal because the President of the club and all the staff will be at the race and I am sure there will be lots of Porto fans there as well.

"I like Estoril very much and I scored pole position and a podium finish in World Series by Renault back in 2005. I'd love to do that again for FC Porto next weekend."

DAVIDE RIGON (Beijing Guoan)

"I have raced at Estoril in the past in Formula Master so I should be in a position to push hard from the first session next Saturday.

"I have prepared very well for the Superleague Formula season but to be honest I didn't expect to be leading the championship at this stage.

"It is certainly very pleasing but now I have to try to keep the gap.

"Hopefully the car will be just as strong as it was in Zolder. The plan is to get through race one without any problems and finish well, then do as well as I can in the second race from towards the back of the grid.

"Superleague has been great in boosting my profile in Italy. Hopefully we can keep going strong and it would be excellent to meet the fans in China at the end of the season."

KASPER ANDERSEN (Olympiacos)

"Luck hasn't been on our side and we have had a few problems with the car but I am hopeful of getting back on track with a strong result for Olympiacos at Estoril.

"The team has been working very hard and I know if the car is good we have the pace to race at the front.

"We started the first race of the year in the top four, but things haven't gone our way since then.

"I raced at Estoril in Formula Master earlier this year but the weather wasn't good so I am looking forward to some sunshine at Estoril this week.

"I've had great support from the Olympiacos fans this year with lots of emails and contact so I'd love to give them something to cheer for this week."

ADRIAN VALLES (Liverpool FC)

"I scored my first podium at Estoril back in 2004 in World Series so this is a track which I really like.

"It has a great combination of fast and slow corners which makes it challenging to work out a good set up for the car.

"Sometimes it is really windy as well which actually can have a big effect on the car set up.

"It might be tricky for myself and Liverpool to chase down Beijing for the championship. A lot of teams are quite close in the points but it is going to be tough. We just have to work hard to try and score as many points as we can and be consistent in every race."

MAX WISSEL (FC Basel)

"Estoril will be a new track for me but that shouldn't be a huge problem - Zolder was also new for me but I don't think Estoril will be as difficult to learn.

"I have been really happy with the results for FC Basel so far - it has been perfect. We had a problem with the car at the Nurburgring but other than that, the car has been great at every race.

"It was a big step up for me going into Superleague Formula but everything has been going really well. I am working with the same engineer that has been with me from Formula Renault for the past few years which has been a big help.

"There is a lot more horsepower but I have been pleased with the way I have adapted."

-credit: sf

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Series SF
Drivers Davide Rigon , Ayrton Senna , Robert Doornbos , Tristan Gommendy , Adrian Valles , Kasper Andersen , Duncan Tappy , Paul Meijer