Hughes misses out on Italian F3000 title

Warren Hughes was beaten to the Italian Formula 3000 title by Ricardo Sperafico after finishing second in the final round of the series at Misano on Sunday. Hughes' Arden team mate Darren Manning finished third

Hughes misses out on Italian F3000 title

Hughes went into the race with an outside chance of overthrowing championship leader Sperafico, but the Brit had a fight on his hands after managing only fourth on the grid in qualifying. Manning was behind Hughes in fifth, while Sperafico, Soheil Ayari (a guest driver for the Durango team) and Rodrigo Sperafico occupied the top three slots.

Hughes and Manning both made good starts and immediately picked off the third-placed Rodrigo and Ayari to take second and third, but could not touch the other Sperafico twin.

"I didn't have the pace to keep up with Ricardo," said Hughes. "He was inching away all the time and I was flat out. I did get the fastest lap, but he just had to drive a sensible race.

"I was hoping Ayari would be a cat among the pigeons, but he dropped back. At least that's shown the depth of talent at the front of this series. Manning and Ayari have come from the international [F3000] series, but haven't blown us away."

Despite Hughes losing out in the drivers' title, his second place, with Manning right behind, was enough for the Arden team to secure second place in the team standings, giving the Banbury-based outfit two places in next year's FIA International F3000 series.

It is unclear whether the Arden team will take up both the International slots available to it. Hughes is to test with the team at Estoril next month and has a slim chance of a drive next year, although Viktor Maslov is guaranteed a seat thanks to the Russian's Lukoil backing, while Manning is known to want to stay on.

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