Race: Webber takes comfortable win

Mark Webber took his second win of the year in dominant fashion with victory in an incident-packed, yet processional fifth round of the International Formula 3000 Championship at Monaco

Race: Webber takes comfortable win

The Australian was hounded all the way by Justin Wilson, who was unable to find a way past, despite two periods behind the safety car, and had to settle for second while F3000 returnee Stephane Sarrazin came home third. Webber's win moves him into second place in the championship behind the Brit.

"I'm so happy," said Webber. "When I woke up this morning and saw the sun shining, I knew it was going to be bloody hard work. You don't have to be Einstein to work out that I had to get off the line well. I didn't want to get tagged in the rear."

As it turned out, it wasn't Webber that needed to worry about being 'tagged'. The two title protagonists were side-by-side on the front row and Webber got away perfectly from pole leaving the rest of the field to pick its way through the first corner. Wilson, meanwhile, was slightly less fortunate.

The Nordic driver received a gentle love tap from an over exuberant Darren Manning (third on the grid) on the run to Sainte Devote. Gentle the contact may have been, but it was enough to take Manning's front wing off which then attached itself to Wilson's rear diffuser. The offending aerofoil managed to cling on until the Mirabeau corner where it then deposited itself in the middle of the track.

"Going into the first corner I braked a fraction later than Webber," said Wilson, "and locked up a bit, but it was quite comfortable. Then there was a big thud from behind and I just managed to control it. It did tweak something because I had trouble turning into corners. It's a bit frustrating, but it was Mark's day today."

Although Manning had got ahead of Wilson, it mattered not as the Arden driver had to pit to take on a new nose, but it allowed Webber to begin to stretch his legs out front. Webber's lead was soon depleted again, however, as a spinning Jaime Melo was hit from behind by Andrea Piccini on the first run through the Loews hairpin and found himself broadside across the track with a queue quickly building up behind him. That, allied to the stranded Prost Junior car of Gabriele Varano on the other side of the corner, brought out the Safety Car for the first time.

At the restart the top six stood with Webber and Wilson out front, followed by Sarrazin, then Sebastien Bourdais and Ricardo Sperafico in fourth and fifth with Ricardo Mauricio in sixth.

After pitting for a new nose on the first lap, Manning rejoined the race in 16th place and set about working his way back up the field. However the charge was short lived and just before the halfway point the Brit spun and crashed into the barrier in the swimming pool section, bringing out the Safety Car for the second time.

This presented Wilson with a prime opportunity to get past Webber, but the Brit just couldn't make it stick and had to settle for second. Webber was surprised not to get more of a challenge at the second restart.

"When the Safety Car came out," he said, "I thought there was going to be a good race between me and Justin, but the car was just brilliant. It was an awesome afternoon."

Wilson's second place was his fourth points finish in five races and netted the 22-year-old another six points, which leaves him 11 clear of Webber in the championship.

At the finish, the order was the same as at the end of the first lap. In between time Mauricio had swapped places with his Red Bull Junior team mate Patrick Freisacher, only to move back up to sixth again by the finish when the erratic Austrian spun out. Mauricio returned to Helmut Marko's squad this weekend at the expense of Antonio Garcia, and managed to hold onto his sixth place despite constant pressure from Tomas Enge in the second Nordic Lola, who finished seventh. Bourdais came home fourth behind Sarrazin and Sperafico in fifth.

Mark Webber Super Nova Racing, 1h13m21.073s, 45
Justin Wilson Coca-Cola Nordic Racing +0.893s, 45
Stephane Sarrazin Prost Junior, +7.247s, 45
Sebastien Bourdais DAMS, +8.737s, 45
Ricardo Sperafico Petrobras, +17.098s, 45
Ricardo Mauricio Red Bull Junior Team, +24.037s, 45
Tomas Enge Coca-Cola Nordic Racing, +24.566s, 45
Fabrizio Gollin, Coloni, +48.408s, 45
Rodrigo Sperafico, Coloni, +49.616s, 45
Victor Maslov, Arden Team Russia, +50.416s
Jaime Melo, Durango, +51.321s, 45
Mario Haberfeld, Super Nova, 42
Patrick Friesacher, Red Bull Junior Team, 42

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Webber beats off Wilson's challenge for pole

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