Junqueira wins in Spain

Bruno Junqueira took the lead of the Formula 3000 Championship after a hard-charging victory in Barcelona

Junqueira wins in Spain

The Brazilian looked set to snatch the lead at the start as polesitter Enrique Bernoldi made a poor getaway, but the latter dived across the road to protect his advantage and forced Junqueira to back off. It briefly looked like the Petrobras Jr driver would be swamped by the pack, but he managed to fend off everyone bar Super Nova's David Saelens, who stole second place.

Bernoldi then romped off into the distance as Junqueira found himself bottled up behind Saelens. Soheil Ayari held fourth at first but then spun off, handing the place to Tomas Enge, who would do likewise at around half-distance.

It seemed like the result was a foregone conclusion until Bernoldi dramatically lost pace in the second half of the race, possibly because of a problem with his left rear tyre. Suddenly the top three were absolutely together and as Saelens tried to pass on the inside into the first corner, Junqueira took advantage and swept around the outside of the Belgian driver to take second place.

A lap later Junqueira expertly replicated the move on Bernoldi to move into the lead, with Saelens rapidly following him through.

Minassian also made it past the struggling Bernoldi with little drama, but when Jeffrey van Hooydonk went to further demote the polesitter all hell broke loose. Bernoldi forced the Belgian into the pit exit road as he tried to aggressively defend his fourth place, allowing Justin Wilson to try and pass them both.

Bernoldi and van Hooydonk both slid sideways through the first chicane and ran side-by-side through turn two before the latter could secure the place. Wilson also got past, despite Bernoldi taking to the dirt in an attempt to reclaim fifth.

Next in the queue to pass the struggling Brazilian was his team-mate and countryman Ricardo Mauricio, but he was forced onto the grass as he tried to make a move into turn five, sliding helplessly into the side of the other Red Bull car. The two Lolas spun in unison and both would retire soon afterwards.

Meanwhile Minassian used Junqueira's outside line technique to pass team mate Saelens for second place en route to making it a one-two-three for David Sears, who owns both the Petrobras Jr and Super Nova teams.

Van Hooydonk held off a closing Wilson, Franck Montagny and Darren Manning to take fourth, the latter charging from 20th on the grid to tenth on the opening lap.

Kevin McGarrity and Mark Webber were both casualties of first-lap overcrowding, the latter continuing after pitting for repairs, but being forced to use the race as a test session.

Most of the entertainment was provided by Fernando Alonso. On home ground, the rising teenage star was an early spinner when a move on Andre Couto went wrong, but he was soon charging back through the field. He then returned to the gravel after a collision with Kristian Kolby that removed the Danish driver from the action and left Alonso at the back once more.

He fought back strongly once more, forcing Ananda Mikola into the first of several errors, the Indonesian driver bouncing over the gravel and grass on the exit of the final corner and only just missing the wall.

Junqueira's win puts him on 18 points, two ahead of Minassian and four ahead of Webber as this trio make an early break in the championship.

Results from Catalunya:

1 B Junqueira Petrobras Jr 1h11m52.069s
2 N Minassian Super Nova + 3.564s
3 D Saelens Super Nova + 10.779s
4 J van Hooydonk KTR + 12.332s
5 J Wilson Nordic + 13.852s
6 F Montagny DAMS + 15.688s
7 D Manning Arden + 18.291s
8 S Bourdais Gauloises Jr + 19.237s
9 S Sarrazin McLaren Jr + 19.767s
10 A Couto Gauloises Jr + 32.235s
11 A Piccini Kid Jensen + 37.264s
12 C Albers European Arrows + 38.081s
13 B Leinders Kid Jensen + 38.817s
14 J Melo Petrobras Jr + 44.368s
15 F Alonso Astromega + 52.475s
16 Y Olivier KTR + 1m11.271s
17 F Gollin Coloni + 1m11.954s
18 V Maslov Arden + 1m14.146s
19 A Mikola WRT + 1 lap

Retirements:

M Webber European Arrows
E Bernoldi Red Bull Jr
R Mauricio Red Bull Jr
T Enge McLaren Jr
K Kolby DAMS
S Ayari Coloni
K McGarrity Nordic

Crashed in qualifying:

M Haberfeld Fortec
F Walfisch Astromega

Did not qualify:

A Scheld Fortec
H Matsusada WRT

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