SF

Series Silverstone qualifying report

Giant killers FC Basel on top as Wissel takes Silverstone pole FC Basel opened the 2010 Superleague Formula by Sonangol season with a giant killing-performance at Silverstone as the 12-times Swiss League champions took pole position for the...

Giant killers FC Basel on top as Wissel takes Silverstone pole

FC Basel opened the 2010 Superleague Formula by Sonangol season with a giant killing-performance at Silverstone as the 12-times Swiss League champions took pole position for the first of Sunday's three races at the British circuit.

The club's German driver, Max Wissel, was in impressive form during the one-lap knockout stages of qualifying, using his wet weather-prowess to good effect to beat Lyon, Tottenham Hotspur and FC Porto to net the club's first ever Superleague Formula pole.

Wissel only just made it through the group stages of qualifying, sneaking into the top four in Group A by just two tenths of a second, but when the rain began to fall ahead of the knockout phase, he was in imperious form.

In the quarter finals he defeated Lyon's Sebastien Bourdais, who had been fastest of everyone in the groups, then knocked out home favourite Craig Dolby of Spurs in the semis before beating FC Porto's Alvaro Parente to pole in the final.

Parente, whose one Superleague Formula race weekend last season resulted in a win at Estoril, was fast throughout qualifying, topping Group A and then easily beating AC Milan and defending champions Liverpool in the quarter and semi finals. He will start tomorrow's race on the outside of the front row.

The second row will be an all-Premier League affair after strong performances by Tottenham and Liverpool. Last year's championship runner-up, Dolby, was his usual spectacular self for Spurs in the quarter finals as he beat fellow Brit Duncan Tappy in the Flamengo car, while Liverpool's new signing, James Walker, made an impressive debut for the Anfield club to survive a tough qualifying group and then come from behind to beat Sevilla's Marcos Martinez in his quarter final.

Spanish driver Martinez can be proud of his series' debut after a strong display in the group stages to leave him sixth on the grid alongside Tappy in fifth, but Bourdais wasn't as happy after his quarter final defeat to Wissel, particularly as his time of 1:34.432 was fastest of all in the groups. He will start tomorrow's race on the outside of row four, alongside the other losing quarter finalist, AC Milan.

The depth of quality on the 2010 grid was highlighted in the group stages of qualifying as ex-Formula One drivers Robert Doornbos (Corinthians), Narain Karthikeyan (PSV Eindhoven) and Franck Montagny (Bordeaux) all went out. Davide Rigon, who returns to Superleague Formula this season after helping Chinese club Beijing Guoan to the inaugural title in 2008, also failed to go through, ending the Group B session in the gravel trap at Abbey as he pushed to make the cut when the first drops of rain began to fall.

Driver quotes:

Max Wissel, FC Basel: "When the rain started before the knockout stages there wasn't much time for me to adjust to the track, but the team did a great job to switch the car on to a good wet set-up. We finished third in the league table last season and we want to go for the title this time, so pole position is the perfect way to start the new season."

Alvaro Parente, FC Porto: "I made a small mistake in the second sector during the final and I think that cost us the chance to be closer to Max, but I'm still happy with second. I have raced at Silverstone a lot in the past and I love the circuit so I'm looking forward to tomorrow's race."

James Walker, Liverpool: "I was praying for it not to rain as we were so strong in the dry and I think we'll continue to get quicker and quicker. We were a bit lucky to make it past Sevilla in the Quarter Final as I think both Marcos and I made a couple of mistakes as the new sections of the track were so slippery. I'm happy with third and I think we have a great chance to go for the win tomorrow."

Craig Dolby, Tottenham Hotspur: "I was praying for it to rain because I've never done a lap of this circuit in the dry before! To be on the second row is very pleasing because qualifying wasn't my strong point last year and it will be nice to have just three cars in front of me instead of ten! We know where our weaknesses are and we'll work on those tonight and be back tomorrow to go for the win."

-source: superleague formula

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Series SF
Drivers Franck Montagny , Narain Karthikeyan , Davide Rigon , Sébastien Bourdais , Robert Doornbos , Alvaro Parente , James Walker , Marcos Martinez , Duncan Tappy , Max Wissel , Craig Dolby