Junqueira spins and wins

Bruno Junqueira extended his championship lead by taking a clear victory in a totally bizarre Formula 3000 race at the Nurburgring

Junqueira spins and wins

The drama started as soon as the red lights went on. Polesitter David Saelens made a poor start, allowing Enrique Bernoldi to storm around the outside of the leaders and move up from fourth to first. Saelens tried to regain ground into the first corner but succeeded only in sliding across the gravel trap and spinning in front of the pack.

Utter chaos ensued, with Fernando Alonso's Astromega car landing on Ricardo Mauricio's Red Bull Lola. Saelens, Kevin McGarrity, Mark Webber, Soheil Ayari and Jeffrey van Hooydonk were also removed from the action.

After a long safety car period the action resumed with Bernoldi and Junqueira battling fiercely for the lead. Tomas Enge retook third with a neat move on Franck Montagny into the first corner but soon the race was halted again as Bas Leinders spun in front of Nicolas Minassian, the latter recovering after being delayed in the first lap confusion. The two cars were left stranded in the middle of the track.

Bernoldi pulled clear at the restart but then retired on lap 14 when his left rear suspension collapsed and sent him sliding into the tyres at the Veedol chicane. Junqueira now appeared to be looking at an easy run to the flag, but then rain began to fall.

Justin Wilson was the first to come to grief. He had been the main man on the move in the opening laps, charging back up to fifth despite dropping out of the top ten in the first corner shambles. The Nordic driver had a spin at turn two and was T-boned at high speed by Franck Montagny as he tried to rejoin. The latter was already alongside Sebastien Bourdais so had nowhere to go. Both drivers were unhurt despite their cars being heavily damaged.

The rain came poured down during the following safety car period, forcing all but Enge, Andre Couto, Bourdais, Stephane Sarrazin and Christian Albers to pit for wets. Those five were therefore left at the head of the queue, followed by Andreas Scheld and Fabrizio Gollin, both of whom had shrewdly switched to wets before the full course yellow. Junqueira, Yves Olivier and Fabrice Walfisch completed the top ten.

With the track virtually saturated, the restart was always going to be dramatic. Enge got an excellent run but his fellow slick tyre runners were all passed by Scheld, Walfisch and Junqueira as the pack charged four and five abreast into the first corner in a massive ball of spray.

In the background Darren Manning (who had moved up from 25th to ninth at the start simply by cutting across the turn one gravel and neatly avoiding all the chaos,) Olivier and Jamie Davies tangled, the latter pair rejoining well behind the field after receiving push-starts.

Scheld, who had failed to qualify for the first three races of his F3000 career, then swept past Enge into the lead on the exit of turn six. Walfisch tried to do the same but was caught out by the McLaren car's slow exit from turn ten, slamming into the rear of Enge's Lola and being launched into the air. The Frenchman was very lucky to land upright. Enge, his rear wing smashed, span wildly down the straight, forcing the fast closing Junqueira to throw his car into a spin to avoid a second collision.

Amazingly Junqueira rejoined on the other side of the Veedol chicane with his car undamaged and still in second place behind Scheld. Jamie Melo and Fabrizio Gollin moved up to third and fourth in the confusion and fought a fierce battle until the Brazilian was penalised for passing under yellows.

It took Junqueira several laps to hunt down and pass Scheld, who hung on to take an amazing second place. Gollin closed towards the end but had to settle for third.

Sebastien Bourdais and Andre Couto completed the top five after Christian Albers crashed out in the closing stages. The two Gauloises Jr cars spent much of the second half of the race off the road as they struggled for grip on their slick tyres, but hung on to take a double points finish. Sarrazin picked up sixth despite several spins, benefiting when Melo was given a second stop-go penalty.

With title rivals Minassian and Webber both becoming victims of the carnage, Junqueira has extended his championship lead to 12 points. By finishing second and third, Scheld and Gollin scored the first F3000 podium finish for both themselves and their Fortec Motorsport and Coloni-Martello teams.

Result from the Nurburgring:

1 B Junqueira Petrobras Jr
2 A Scheld Fortec
3 F Gollin Coloni
4 S Bourdais Gauloises Jr
5 A Couto Gauloises Jr
6 S Sarrazin McLaren Jr
7 J Melo Petronbras Jr
8 Y Olivier KTR
9 J Davies Fortec
10 A Piccini KJR


C Albers European Arrows
D Manning Arden
T Enge McLaren Jr
F Walfisch Astromega
J Wilson Nordic
F Montagny DAMS
E Bernoldi Red Bull Jr
N Minassian Super Nova
B Leinders KJR
D Saelens Super Nova
R Mauricio Red Bull Jr
F Alonso Astromega
S Ayari Coloni
J van Hooydonk KTR
M Webber European Arrows
K McGarrity Nordic


K Kolby DAMS
A Mikola WRT
M Hynes WRT
V Maslov Arden

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