Junqueira wins in Monaco

Bruno Junqueira has won his third consecutive race in the FIA F3000 championship, taking victory around the streets of Monaco

Junqueira wins in Monaco

Britain's Jamie Davies was second, and polesitter David Saelens overcame a first lap incident to take third.

Brazilian Junqueira led every lap after the first corner, when front row men David Saelens and Sebastien Bourdais contrived to collide. Bourdais attempted to take his Gauloises Jr. Lola around the outside of Saelens' similar Super Nova car at the Ste Devote corner, in a move that was clearly destined to end in catastrophe.

Sure enough, Bourdais clattered over the nose section of Saelens' car, and bounced into retirement. Saelens, however, was able to retake his line, and only lost places to Bruno Junqueira, Jamie Davies and Stephane Sarrazin.

He was later to take a further place when Sarrazin's McLaren Jr car ran wide at Portier on lap 5. Sarrazin was then rammed by Ricardo Mauricio when he tried to retake his line.

The Frenchman was out on the spot, and clearly livid, but Mauricio was able to limp on in a highly damaged Red Bull Jr car until the shattered suspension got the better of him half a lap later.

Saelens was able to continue, but without the pace to challenge the leading pair, who were stretching away. Equally, the following cars could not overcome the slim gap he was able to pull out, so Enrique Bernoldi and Mark Webber were left to tussle amongst themselves for the ensuing laps.

Even a safety car period later in the race could not alter his position to any great degree; lapped traffic stood between him and Davies on the restart, while Webber, who was following, had not closed the gap sufficiently, even given the slower pace under the safety car, to capitalise.

It was a consummate, if luck-boosted performance by Junqiera. The Williams F1 test driver stroked away from the start, building a gap to the second placed Jamie Davies over a period of laps. The Englishman never had the pace to challenge his rival in serious terms, and by lap 40, the distance between the two cars had stabilised at around six seconds.

The safety car, brought out for several crashed cars on lap 32, threatened to destroy all of Junqueira's hard work. The gap to Davies was cut at a stroke, and the lottery of the restart posed new problems.

However, the Petrobras Jr. driver was able to get the jump on Davies' Fortec car as the safety car pulled in, and from thereon in, the gap was held at two seconds or so.

Behind the leading two, however, the race was all action. Characteristically for Monaco, there was precious little overtaking on the track, but a good deal of driver errors and mechanical problems to make sure the order wasn't set in stone until the final lap was complete.

One of the few to attempt passing outright was Nordic's Justin Wilson, who executed a bold dive down the inside of Franck Montagny's car into the Grand Hotel hairpin on lap 28, for eighth place.

Sadly for Wilson, the cards would not fall right for him on the restart. Montagny snatched the place back in the confusion, and despite not giving up until the flag had dropped, the Englishman was unable to make his aggressive moves stick.

The safety car had been brought out for Enrique Bernoldi and Marc Hynes, who crashed on lap 32. Hynes had been performing well in his first ever F3000 race, and his first race around the daunting Monaco streets to boot. He had climbed from his starting position of twentieth - in itself a feat - to be lying 13th when the uneven surface got the better of him and he spun into the barriers at Portier.

Bernoldi, meanwhile, piled into the barriers at the Swimming Pool. He had been lying a strong fourth when the accident happened. The cause was unclear, but it appeared that his Red Bull Lola simply got onto the marbles and crashed.

Wilson's team-mate Kevin McGarrity was luckier on the restart, taking a place from championship contender Nicolas Minassian. The Frenchman got sideways going into the first corner, and McGarrity didn't need asking twice before occupying the space.

The Ulsterman had climbed up from 10th on the grid to be knocking on the door of a points position by the time of the caution period.

For the remainder of the race, this pack, joined by the charging Fernando Alonso, provided the majority of the action. It was a genuine uncertainty as to what order the cars would finish in - or indeed, given the verve with which they were being driven, just how many would finish at all...

Both Nordic drivers, McGarrity and Wilson, hounded the cars in front, those of Webber and Montagny respectively, and showed no signs of settling for their positions just because the end of the race was approaching. Wilson, for his part, could not afford to relax, because attached to his tail was the Astromega car of Fernando Alonso, impatient to take his first F3000 points, and perhaps buoyed by his promotion to Minardi F1 test driver. Alonso had set several fastest laps earlier in the race, and was clearly on the edge, as a couple of near spins at Mirabeau paid testament to.

Just as it looked like the positions would remain, Webber crashed heavily. The Australian had driven a storming first half to the race, and was never more than half a second behind Bernoldi in the battle for fourth. When Bernoldi crashed, Webber moved up, but in his tussle with the Brazilian, his car had come to look extremely wayward.

He had started to slip back into the clutches of the following pack by around lap 28, and a couple of tours later, straightlined the chicane after outbraking himself.

For the final ten laps, the sometime championship leader was clearly holding off a gaggle of much faster cars.

McGarrity passed the crashed Lola to take the fourth spot, while Minassian took fifth and will remain ahead of Webber in the points standings. Had Webber finished fourth, the two would have occupied equal second...

As it is, Junqueira will extend his lead over Minassian to twenty points in the championship standings.

Results from Monaco:

1 Bruno Junqueira Petrobras Jr 1h19m08.755s
2 Jamie Davies Fortec 1h19m10.353s
3 David Saelens Super Nova 1h19m16.480s
4 Kevin McGarrity Nordic 1h19m17.010s
5 Nicolas Minassian Super Nova 1m19m19.910s
6 Franck Montagny DAMS 1h19m20.514s
7 Justin Wilson Nordic 1h19m21.177s
8 Fernando Alonso Astromega 1h19m22.039s
9 Jeffrey van Hooydonk KTR 1h19m23.466s
10 Fabrizio Gollin Coloni 1h20m08.309s
11 Andreas Scheld Fortec + 1 lap

Retirements:

Mark Webber European Arrows
Christijan Albers European Arrows
Enrique Bernoldi Red Bull Jr
Darren Manning Arden
Marc Hynes WRT
Andrea Piccini KJR
Soheil Ayari Coloni
Ananda Mikola WRT
Andre Couto Gauloises Jr
Bas Leinders KJR
Stephane Sarrazin McLaren Jr
Ricardo Mauricio Red Bull Jr
Sebastien Bourdais Gauloises Jr
Fabrice Walfisch Astromega
Viktor Maslov Arden

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