Sporting Lisbons Pedro Petiz took his and the clubs first Superleague Formula by Sonangol victory at Monza today after a mature, untroubled drive from start to finish. Sevilles Sebastien Bourdais meanwhile came through to third after starting last to grab the Weekend Winner award.
Craig Dolby added a hard fought second position to race 1s fifth place to finish the weekend third overall with Olympiacos Esteban Guerrieri second thanks to his runners-up spot in the opener and fourth in race two.
Just as in the opening race, the sprint down to the first corner saw three cars go side-by-side with AC Milan popping out from behind the front row starting Flamengo car of Jonathan Kennard. Sporting had just enough room to hold the lead into the chicane as the Englishman attempted to make amends by going around the outside of Pantano. Although ahead, he just clipped the Italian and span, partially blocking the track and forcing the rest of the field on to the grass, resulting a delay that allowed Petiz to end lap one nearly two seconds clear.
The action remained frenetic for those behind with PSV Eindhovens Carlo Van Dam relieving Pantano of second on lap two before Olympiacos and Anderlecht collided at the first chicane, sending both momentarily into the gravel. The accident triggered a chain reaction behind with race 1 podium finisher Julien Jousse receiving a right-rear puncture that was to end his and AS Romas race.
Sporting pitted at the end of lap eight with a healthy advantage over PSV who opted to stay out. FC Basel, who had now passed Pantano for third, followed the Portuguese in but was delayed badly when attempting to leave his box after Milan over-shot his marks and sat stranded in the pits. The incident backed up those who were also pitting, handing a significant advantage to the drivers who had opted to stay out.
With everyone having completed their stops by lap 12, Petiz regained his advantage to the tune of over six seconds from Van Dam who was shuffled down to third on his first lap out of the pits by Corinthians Antonio Pizzonia. Tottenhams Craig Dolby, up from 14th on the reverse grid, soon followed suit with a recovering Max Wissel doing likewise on lap 15.
But FC Basels title challenge came to an end the very next lap when Wissel slowed along the pit straight. Behind, Sevilles Sebastien Bourdais, whod started dead last after winning race one, slipstreamed PSV into the first corner and set off after Corinthians who a charging Dolby had passed a lap earlier.
With league-leaders Liverpool up to fifth, the Englishman needed all the points he could muster if he was to reduce his deficit at the top of the standings. Try as he might though there was simply no catching Petiz who reeled off the last ten minutes with consummate ease to claim victory by 6.051 seconds.
Dolby came home second with Bourdais completing an excellent weekend for Seville in third. Race 1 runner-up Guerrieri was fourth after an opportunist move on Liverpool, who finished fifth, while battling with the slowing Corinthians.
FC Portos retirement in the closing stages handed Anderlecht their second sixth place of the day, ahead of Galatasarays Ho-Pin Tung, PSV, Corinthians and Atletico Madrids Maria de Villota.
The result sees Tottenham close to within 49 points of Liverpool ahead of the season finale in Jarama, Spain next month in what has effectively become a two-horse race for the title. Wissels disappointing weekend sees FC Basel replaced in third overall by Olympiacos while Milan lost out badly at home, tumbling from fourth to eighth.
Weekend Winner driver quotes:
Sebastien Bourdais, Seville: For sure the second race was going to be more difficult to win. If someone had told me we would have finished third after starting dead last, I would have said you are kidding! We just took it easy to start with as I thought there would be a few tangles and kept my push-to-passes. I thought I had a puncture on a couple of occasions because my team mate actually ran in to the back of me when the other guys short-cutted the chicane. Overall I am very happy. The car was pretty solid and the team did a good job. We made no mistakes and thats what won us the event.
Esteban Guerrieri, Olympiacos: Race 2 was a good race but it was a bit of a mess because there were a lot of incidents on the track and in the pit lane, with many cars stopping at the same time. I got stuck behind Olympique Lyonnais, which was stopping in front of me, and I lost a bit of time. Before that I made contact in the first chicane with another car and lost some time going into the gravel, so it was a bit of a mixed race with a lot things happening. But overall I had good pace, the car was really nice to drive and I pushed every lap at 100% trying to get the maximum out of the tyres. With all the incidents, fourth was the best we could have done.
Craig Dolby, Tottenham: The first few laps were unbelievable and very aggressive, as I knew I had to be. I needed to catch Max in the championship which meant finishing ahead. We caught up and passed before his problem so I did what Id set out to do. After the issues in qualifying, I thought it would be difficult, but we never gave up. We came fifth in the first race with an engine problem which we fixed and came through from the back of the grid, passing all the people who had problems in the pit stops before they got there. I showed a few people that I am not going to back down and if my car is on the inside I will stay on the inside. A few people tried to push me on to the grass but I went wheel-to-wheel with them. For Jarama, the championship is still wide open so I will definitely be giving it large!
Superleague Formula travels to Jarama for the final two races of 2009, November 7/8.