Junqueira moves closer to title

Bruno Junqueira is now odds-on to claim this season's Formula 3000 Championship title after taking a dominant victory at the Hungaroring

Junqueira moves closer to title

The Brazilian driver led from start to finish in what must surely have been one of the most staggeringly processional races ever held anywhere.

All the overtaking in the top six happened within the first few hundred yards. Junqueira got away well to lead into turn one but his front row partner Justin Wilson struggled with wheelspin on the dirty side of the track and dropped to fifth.

Teenage star Fernando Alonso therefore moved up to second, while a similarly lightning getaway by Red Bull Jr driver Ricardo Mauricio took the Brazilian from fifth to third ahead of Nicolas Minassian, Wilson and Mauricio's team-mate Enrique Bernoldi.

And 50 laps later, they were still in the same order...

Alonso did his best to entertain, chasing Junqueira hard for the first part of the race. This pair sprinted away from the field, while Minassian's lack of pace allowed Mauricio to run untroubled in third.

While Junqueira was running at the front again after three dire races in the midfield, Hockenheim stars Tomas Enge and Tomas Scheckter were struggling once more with the McLaren Jr team. Enge stalled on the grid before the formation lap and had to start last.

The Czech driver made up several places on the opening lap but couldn't pass Christian Albers for 21st. He later had a spin and would finish a lap down. Meanwhile an optimistic move by Scheckter into the first chicane led to Marc Goossens getting up onto two wheels and bouncing through the gravel. A pit stop for repairs dropped Scheckter to the tail of the field.

This collision was one of a remarkably small number of incidents. Kevin McGarrity retired after early contact with Soheil Ayari, Mario Haberfeld visited the gravel more than once and Kristian Kolby had a spin, but the race was otherwise orderly.

The latter incident left Kolby briefly beached at the edge of the track as he tried to rejoin. The organisers brought out the safety car, allowing Alonso to close the gap Junqueira was starting to open up.

However, although Alonso tried a move into the first corner at the restart, his Brazilian rival had everything under control and held a lead of between 0.5s and 2s for the rest of the race.

Mauricio took his first ever F3000 podium in third, while Minassian had to spend the whole race fending off Wilson on a day when not even the normally feisty Nordic driver could overtake anyone.

Junqueira's victory gives him a seven-point lead over Minassian going into the title decider at Spa in two weeks time. With Mark Webber struggling to ninth today, the Australian is out of contention for the championship.

Minassian needs to win with Junqueira no higher than fifth in order to take the championship, so the Frenchman has little to lose. With drivers like Webber, Wilson and Alonso also in the mix, the season finale should provide a much better spectacle than the convoy the Hungarian spectators witnessed.

Best of all, the race takes place at Spa-Francorchamps, a circuit where overtaking definitely IS possible...




1 Bruno Junqueira Petrobras 1h31m30.012s
2 Fernando Alonso Astromega + 0.594s
3 Ricardo Mauricio Red Bull + 5.813s
4 Nicolas Minassian Super Nova + 11.191s
5 Justin Wilson Nordic + 12.075s
6 Enrique Bernoldi Red Bull + 18.102s
7 Bas Leinders KJR + 26.433s
8 Darren Manning Arden + 28.388s
9 Mark Webber European + 30.001s
10 Fabrice Walfisch Coloni + 35.392s
11 David Saelens Super Nova + 40.176s
12 Franck Montagny DAMS + 40.498s
13 Soheil Ayari WRT + 40.925s
14 Sebastian Bourdais Gauloises + 44.721s
15 Mario Haberfeld Fortec + 51.213s
16 Andrea Piccini KJR + 55.067s
17 Tomas Enge McLaren + 55.382s
18 Fabrizio Gollin Coloni + 57.628s
19 Marc Goossens Astromega + 1 lap
20 Kristian Kolby DAMS + 1 lap
21 Tomas Scheckter McLaren + 2 laps

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Junqueira takes pole in title race
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