Van der Drift gives Olympiacos pole

Chris van der Drift scored his first ever pole position in Superleague Formula at Zolder in Belgium after a phenomenal performance in the head-to-head shoot-out final, beating former champion Davide Rigon by almost half a second

Van der Drift gives Olympiacos pole

Olympiacos driver van der Drift dipped into the 1m18s bracket to defeat the local Anderlecht car of Rigon by 0.411 seconds around the former grand prix venue, a sensational effort given the fact that his tyres were getting less effective with each run.

"Finally! I'm ecstatic to get pole," said van der Drift. "The group session went well, and then I kept getting quicker and quicker, which I think was just me getting more and more out of the car."

Rigon said: "It's the home race for the club, so I'm happy to get to the final. It's a fantastic result for us today, and I think we'll be quick tomorrow too."

In the first semi final, Rigon scraped through by 0.03s, after giving away a tenth of a second to Robert Doornbos (Corinthians) in the first sector. He had reversed that to a 0.05s advantage in sector two, and just held on to progress to the final.

"We're team-mates, so we copied each other's set-ups," revealed Doornbos. "I ran a bit wide at Turn 1, and got a bit of dirt on the tyres for Turns 2 and 3, but three hundredths over a lap is nothing. We had a pole position car."

In the second semi, van der Drift shaded Max Wissel (FC Basel) with a stellar lap that was almost two tenths of a second faster, the Kiwi beating the German in every sector of the lap.

In the first quarter final, Doornbos beat Marcos Martinez (Sevilla) with ease by over three quarters of a second. The second was a thriller, as van der Drift gave away two tenths in the first sector, but aced the remainder of the lap, and overturned the deficit into a 0.048s advantage to knock out Yelmer Buurman (AC Milan), who appeared to slide at Bolderbergbocht, perhaps enough to make the difference.

Championship rivals Craig Dolby (Tottenham Hotspur) and Wissel went head-to-head in the third quarter-final, and the contest did not disappoint. Wissel was up by 0.02s in sector one, but Dolby turned that into a 0.075s advantage in sector two, only for Wissel to strike back to win by 0.152s after Dolby admitted he got too much wheelspin exiting Bolderbergbocht.

The final quarter was the most routine, as the ultra-smooth Rigon dispatched James Walker (Liverpool) by 0.841s.

In the group stages, Doornbos topped the first session, despite a grassy moment on the exit of Turn 1, ahead of Wissel, Walker (who escaped a quick trip through the Turn 1 gravel) and Buurman. Out at this stage went Duncan Tappy, who spun the Flamengo car into the gravel at Bolderbergbocht.

This caused consternation among his fellow non-qualifiers, who could not improve their times, and who included series returnee Andy Soucek (Sporting Lisbon), Julien Jousse (Roma), Tristan Gommendy (Galatasaray) and Maria de Villota (Atletico Madrid).

"It's very unlike me to put a car in the gravel like that, I'm really disappointed with myself and maybe I overdrove it," said Tappy.

Gommendy added: "We were quick in practice, I was pushing like hell, but I couldn't do better. I had massive understeer and touching [bottoming] at the front-end."

In Group B, van der Drift headed the times from Rigon, Dolby and Martinez. Knocked out were John Martin (Beijing Guoan) - who had an on-track spat with Narain Karthikeyan (PSV Eindhoven) who also went out - as well as Alvaro Parente (Porto) and newcomer Jaap van Lagen (Bordeaux), the latter spinning off at Kanaalbocht right at the end of the session.

"I don't know what he [Karthikeyan] was doing, I was on my first flying lap, which is the best one on new tyres, and he screwed us over really," said Martin. "We needed that first lap and didn't get it."

Pos Driver Team Time Session 1. Chris van der Drift Olympiacos 1m18.721s Final 2. Davide Rigon RSC Anderlecht 1m19.132s Final 3. Max Wissel FC Basel 1m19.055s Semi 1 4. Robert Doornbos Corinthians 1m19.075s Semi 2 5. James Walker Liverpool FC 1m20.137s Quarter 4 6. Craig Dolby Tottenham Hotspur 1m19.181s Quarter 3 7. Yelmer Buurman AC Milan 1m19.104s Quarter 2 8. Marcos Martinez Sevilla FC 1m19.416s Quarter 1 9. Duncan Tappy Flamengo 1m19.774s Group 1 10. John Martin Beijing Guoan 1m19.377s Group 2 11. Andy Soucek Sporting Clube 1m19.793s Group 1 12. Jaap van Lagen Girondins de Bordeaux 1m19.718s Group 2 13. Julien Jousse AS Roma 1m19.852s Group 1 14. Narain Karthikeyan PSV Eindhoven 1m19.931s Group 2 15. Tristan Gommendy Galatasaray 1m20.026s Group 1 16. Alvaro Parente FC Porto 1m20.164s Group 2 17. Maria de Villota Atletico de Madrid 1m20.881s Group 1 
Stoneman dominates Brands opener
Previous article

Stoneman dominates Brands opener

Next article

Dolby: Spurs' title bid back on track

Dolby: Spurs' title bid back on track
Load comments
The one-time Schumacher rival rebooting his career Down Under Plus

The one-time Schumacher rival rebooting his career Down Under

Joey Mawson made waves in the middle of the last decade, beating future Haas Formula 1 driver Mick Schumacher - among other highly-rated talents - to the 2016 German F4 title. A run in F1's feeder GP3 category only caused his career to stall, but now back in Australia Mawson's S5000 title success has set that to rights

May 8, 2021
The lesson football’s would-be wreckers could learn from racing Plus

The lesson football’s would-be wreckers could learn from racing

OPINION: The greed-driven push for a European Super League that threatened to tear football apart is collapsing at the seams. Motor racing's equivalent, the football-themed Superleague Formula series of 2008-11, was everything that the proposed ESL never could be

Apr 21, 2021
The F1 and Indy 'nearly man' that found contentment in Japan Plus

The F1 and Indy 'nearly man' that found contentment in Japan

Having had the door to F1 slammed in his face and come within three laps of winning the Indianapolis 500, the collapse of a Peugeot LMP1 shot meant Japan was Bertrand Baguette's last chance of a career. But it's one which he has grasped with both hands

Feb 27, 2021
The female all-rounder who arrived "too early" Plus

The female all-rounder who arrived "too early"

From Formula 3 to truck racing, Dakar and EuroNASCAR via a winning stint in the DTM, there's not much Ellen Lohr hasn't seen in a stellar racing career that highlights the merit in being a generalist. But she believes her career came too early...

Feb 17, 2021
How Radical's latest machines fare on track Plus

How Radical's latest machines fare on track

The lightweight sportscar manufacturer has not rewritten the rulebook with its latest machines, but the new SR3 XX and SR10 still provide a step forward on its previous successful models

Feb 8, 2021
The real-life racing rogues stranger than fiction Plus

The real-life racing rogues stranger than fiction

The forthcoming Netflix film linking the world of underworld crime and motorsport plays on a theme that isn't exactly new. Over the years, several shady figures have attempted to make it in racing before their dubious dealings caught up with them

Jan 31, 2021
How a GP is thriving in a COVID-free territory Plus

How a GP is thriving in a COVID-free territory

The New Zealand Grand Prix's mix of rising talent and big-name stars thrilled the crowds (yes, remember crowds?) assembled for the Toyota Racing Series meeting at Hampton Downs last weekend and left distant observers craving a repeat

Jan 26, 2021
How a much-changed Macau GP kept the party going Plus

How a much-changed Macau GP kept the party going

OPINION: The 67th edition of the Macau Grand Prix might have been a largely muted affair to the outside world without its international influx and star line-ups, another victim to the COVID-19 pandemic, but organisers deserve huge credit for keeping the party going

Nov 24, 2020