Monza race: Pantano wins finale

Giorgio Pantano took his maiden International Formula 3000 victory in an incident-packed race at Monza that had two restarts and saw Antonio Pizzonia relinquish the lead after being awarded a stop-go penalty for blocking off the grid

Monza race: Pantano wins finale

This year's champion Justin Wilson consolidated his place at the top by coming home second behind Pantano, while Ricardo Speafico took the final place on the podium.

The race finally got away third time lucky after the first start was aborted after a bunch of drivers, including Super Nova's Mark Webber and KTR's Bas Leinders, stalled on the grid.

When the cars finally made it off the line, pole-sitter Pizzonia made a clean getaway and moved across to the right to protect his line from Wilson in second place. But the Brazilian hadn't reckoned on Pantano making such a great start from third, and Pizzonia then moved back to the left pushing Pantano onto the grass. The Astromega driver managed to keep his Lola out of the barriers and rejoined down the field.

While the move kept Pizzonia in the lead, it later bagged him a 10-second stop-go penalty and cost him his second win of the season.

"I want to say a big thank you to him [Pizzonia]," said Pantano afterwards. "If I had hit the barrier and come back on the straight, then what would have happened? He was crazy, we had 22 cars behind us and it could have been a disaster."

But the drama was far from over as Pantano's team mate Enrique Tocacello came into the first chicane out of control and collided with innocent parties Darren Manning and Patrick Friesacher, putting all three out of the race. The incident blocked the Rettifilo and brought out the safety car.

Wilson, who was running less rear wing on his Nordic Racing Lola, then pounced on Pizzonia at the restart to take the lead, which he held onto until his rear tyres began to blister with 10 laps gone. Pizzonia then made his way back past the Englishman at the exit of the della Roggia chicane, followed by Pantano later on the same lap to put the champion down to third.

"It's disappointing to lead and then fall away," said Wilson. "I over-heated my rear tyres and made a mistake at the second chicane. The rest is history."

As Pizzonia headed off into the distance, the others were clearly not going to catch last year's British Formula 3 Champion. Then came the news of his penalty, handing the lead and the win to Pantano.

"I rejoined fifth after the first chicane [on the first lap]," said Pantano. "I was very lucky at that point. I didn't think that Pizzonia was that far ahead. I was controlling the gap and then I heard over the radio that I was P1, because he had the penalty."

The trio behind the lead held station for much of the race after avoiding the first corner fracas. Bas Leinders came home fourth, followed by Mario Haberfeld who managed to get past David Saelens to take fifth place. But he had done so after the pair had cut the first chicane and was later docked 25 seconds. That pushed Saelens up to fifth and Ricardo Mauricio into sixth.

Mark Webber was kncoked into retirement by Norberto Fontana on the exit of the first corner, leaving the Australian on an equal 39 points in the standings with Tomas Enge. The Czech missed the Monza race because he was making his Grand Prix debut for Prost. Webber has been classified second in the championship on wins countback. Wilson's final championship-winning margin is an impressive 32 points.

For full race results click here.

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