Chris van der Drift dominated the opening Superleague Formula race of round six at Zolder in Belgium on Sunday, leading from start to finish to score Olympiacos's fourth win of the season.
Van der Drift got the hammer down early at the start, holding off fellow front row starter Davide Rigon (Anderlecht) at Turn 1. Further back, points leader Craig Dolby was on the move in the Tottenham entry, swooping around the outside of Max Wissel (FC Basel) at the opening corner after outdragging James Walker (Liverpool) at the rolling start to run fourth from sixth on the grid.
Van der Drift extended a 1.7s lead before the pitstops, and he headed Rigon and Dolby into the pits as soon as they opened, with third placed Robert Doornbos coming in a lap later for Corinthians.
During the pitstop sequence, AC Milan's Yelmer Buurman jumped ahead of both Walker and Wissel to run fifth. He then closed in on title rival Dolby, and pulled off perhaps the overtaking move of the season so far, outbraking Dolby into the Villeneuve chicane with a textbook move.
A couple of corners later, Wissel tried to do likewise, but locked up and ran wide at the last chicane. This allowed Walker to boost past him on the start/finish straight.
The leading positions remained static to the flag, and despite a bit of trouble lapping Maria de Villota (Atletico Madrid), van der Drift won by 1.8secs over Rigon.
"Fantastic, good points and see how far up the grid we can get in race two," said van der Drift. Rigon added: "My pace was better than him, but it was too difficult to overtake him."
Doornbos finished third, and said: "I can't imagine I've ever been so happy with third place. It was a very nice race for me."
Buurman had designs on Doornbos's podium spot, catching him like he'd done earlier with Dolby, but just when he appeared poised to pounce, a gearshift issue sent him straight on the backstraight chicane. He kept going to finish fourth. "If it wasn't for that problem, I think I could have got onto the podium," he said.
Dolby, whose second stint wasn't as strong as his first, held off Walker for fifth, ahead of Wissel. Buurman has closed Dolby's points lead down to 26 from 30.
Pos Driver Team Time/Gap
1. Chris van der Drift Olympiacos 46m07.239s
2. Davide Rigon RSC Anderlecht + 1.892s
3. Robert Doornbos Corinthians + 3.966s
4. Yelmer Buurman AC Milan + 4.519s
5. Craig Dolby Tottenham Hotspur + 8.265s
6. James Walker Liverpool FC + 9.272s
7. Max Wissel FC Basel + 12.432s
8. Marcos Martinez Sevilla FC + 24.315s
9. Andy Soucek Sporting Clube de Portugal + 25.570s
10. Narain Karthikeyan PSV Eindhoven + 59.767s
11. Alvaro Parente FC Porto + 1m01.149s
12. Jaap van Lagen Girondins de Bordeaux + 1m02.617s
13. John Martin Beijing Guoan + 1m05.294s
14. Tristan Gommendy Galatasaray + 1m11.997
15. Julien Jousse AS Roma + 1 lap
16. Maria de Villota Atletico de Madrid + 1 lap
Duncan Tappy Flamengo 24 laps