Antonio Pizzonia flew the flag for Brazil at round 4 of Superleague Formula by Sonangol by taking pole position for Corinthians for Sundays Race 1 at Estoril.
On a weekend in which the world of football has turned its attention to International fixtures, Pizzonia might also allow himself a wry smile after defeating Argentinean driver Esteban Guerrieri in the Pole Shootout, just a few hours ahead of the crucial Argentina v Brazil World Cup Qualifier this evening.
The Pole Shootout proved to be the most exciting head-to-head battle of the knockout stages as less than 0.2 seconds separated Pizzonia and Guerrieri, who was driving for Greek club Olympiacos for the first time following a summer transfer switch from Sevilla.
The experienced Pizzonia, who defeated the in-form Max Wissel (FC Basel) and John Martin (Glasgow Rangers) in the Semi and Quarter finals respectively, was one tenth up in the first sector of the 4.182km circuit before Guerrieri pegged him back in sector 2, as just two one hundredths separated the pair. A final push around the last few corners saw the Brazilian eke out his advantage once more to grab a third pole position in four rounds.
Championship leaders Liverpool will line-up third on the grid as Adrian Valles enjoyed another strong qualifying session. After cruising through the group stages, the Spaniard defeated Anderlecht, for whom Yelmer Buurman has been fast all weekend, in the Quarter Finals but couldnt quite match Guerrieris pace in the Semis.
Wissel, the star of the last round at Donington Park, completes the top four for FC Basel, who currently sit second in the Superleague by Sonangol League Table. The German youngster impressed again and will line up alongside his main championship rival Valles on the second row.
Beaten Quarter Finalists Glasgow Rangers and Anderlecht will form row three, while AS Roma and FC Porto are in seventh and eighth on row four. The Italian and Portuguese clubs have both made moves in the transfer market over the summer and their new signings, Franck Perera and Alvaro Parente showed genuine pace on their series returns. Romas Perera made it through to the knockout phase from a very difficult Group B to make the Quarter Finals after also showing strong pace in practice, while Portos Parente was fastest of all 18 drivers in the group stages before being knocked out by Wissel in the Quarters.
Earlier two teams championship hopes took a hit after a couple of high profile eliminations in the group stages.
Tottenham Hotspur, who lay third in the Superleague Formula by Sonangol League Table coming into this race, went out in a highly-competitive Group B as Briton Craig Dolby missed the cut off by just four tenths of a second. Fellow title protagonists AC Milan, who sit fourth in the standings, also failed to make it to the knockout stages, Italian driver Giorgio Pantano finishing two tenths outside the top four.
Series debutant Sebastien Bourdais, driving for Sevilla FC, was also knocked out in Group B where eight of the nine cars were separated by just 0.7 seconds. A brief off-track excursion while pushing hard on his final flying lap cost him the chance of progressing to the Quarter Finals.
Pantano will now start Sundays first race from ninth on the grid, with Dolby in 13th and Bourdais 15th.
Group A proved to be the slower of the two qualifying groups and saw the elimination of home favourites Sporting Lisbon. Atletico Madrid, who this weekend become the first club in the series history to field a female driver, also went out as Spaniard Maria de Villota suffered a small spin early in the session and was unable to recover in time to break into the top four.
Corinthians: Antonio Pizzonia (BRA)
I knew it was going to be very close. We had a difficult morning (in practice) but we managed to improve the car a bit and Im delighted to have a third pole position from four races. Even before qualifying Esteban and I had been making bets about tonights World Cup Qualifying game! Matches between Brazil and Argentina are always interesting but I dont care about the score as long as we win!
Olympiacos: Esteban Guerreri (ARG)
I was quite confident joining Olympiacos because the team has performed consistently well so far this season. We have worked well together and improved throughout the weekend and that has resulted in us making the final. It was quite close for the pole but now well prepare for the race tomorrow.
Liverpool: Adrian Valles (ESP)
Well go for the victory tomorrow rather than just try to be safe and score points for the championship. If you just try to settle for points bad things can sometimes happen. Antonio and Esteban were really fast today but I think third on the grid for the race is pretty good because we have seen guys win from much further back than there in the past.
FC Basel: Max Wissel (GER)
I made a big mistake in the Semi Final against Antonio but otherwise we have really strong pace here and I think we can challenge for the victory tomorrow. I want to win as we need points for the championship race.