Anderlecht's Davide Rigon will start tomorrow's opening Superleague Formula race in Adria from pole position after defeating Beijing Guoan's John Martin in the knockout final.
Rigon set the pace early on during the knockout stages – recording the fastest time of the day as he did so with 1m06.128sec – and lapped the Adria Raceway nearly half a second faster than Martin in the final. His second pole of the season ends a chain of first Superleague pole positions scored so far in 2010.
Martin will line up alongside Rigon on the front row after making an error on his only flying lap. The Australian admitted to being "a bit disappointed" after locking both front brakes into Turn 1 and losing 0.237sec in the first sector alone.
"Davide did an awesome job, so hats off to him, really," Martin said. "But we've got quite a good car, so I'm really looking forward to the race."
It had been a different story in the second semi-final, when Martin defeated an on-the-pace Alavaro Parente (FC Porto). Ahead by only 0.099sec after the second sector, Martin blitzed the final few corners and crossed the line 0.423sec faster than the Portuguese driver, who enjoyed his best qualifying performance since the opening round at Silverstone.
Another surprise contender was Olympiacos debutant Ben Hanley, who, in the first semi final, immediately pulled 0.116sec ahead of Rigon. Normal service was resumed, however, when the Anderlecht driver overturned the deficit in the final complex and crossed the line 0.235sec ahead. Hanley will start his first Superleague Formula race from fourth place.
The first quarter final pitted Rigon against AC Milan's Yelmer Buurman, both of whom had lapped quickly the session before. Like Hanley, Buurman held an advantage over Rigon in the first sector – 0.203sec this time – but the Dutchman's car stepped out badly, destroying his line into the chicane. That, coupled with a wide exit out of the final corner, allowed Rigon to cross the line 0.273sec ahead.
The gap similarly ebbed and flowed in the second quarter final. Hanley held the lead into sector one by 0.118sec before morning pacesetter Max Wissel (FC Basel) powered through to take the lead by 0.42sec at the second. The cars were split at the line by just 0.88sec, in Hanley's favor.
Alavaro Parente came though to beat Julien Jousse (AS Roma) by 0.111sec in the third quarter final, while John Martin easily defeated Liverpool new boy Frederic Vervisch by over half a second in the fourth.
In the knockout stages, Martin topped Group A – Superleague's latest highly competitive group. Marcos Martinez (Sevilla) could not repeat his qualifying performance from Brands Hatch and was one of the first to fall, alongside Robert Doornbos (Corninthians), Celso Miguel (Olympique Lyonnais) – who lapped over a second off the pace after problems in practice – and a frustrated Duncan Tappy (Flamengo), who came close to knocking out current championship leader, Yelmer Buurman.
It was Group B, however, that produced the biggest surprise. Craig Dolby (Tottenham Hotspur) continued to struggle with old tires and remained on the knockout fringes throughout. A stellar final flying lap from Vervisch eclipsed Dolby's best effort by just 0.06sec just one minute before the checkered flag dropped. Dolby could not better his time, and was joined on the sidelines by Tristan Gommendy (Galatasaray) and fellow Briton, Hywell Lloyd (PSV Eindhoven).
Maria de Villota (Atletico Madrid) did not start her qualifying run after aggravating an old neck injury through Adria's high speed left-hand turns.
Pos Driver Team Time In session
1. Davide Rigon RSC Anderlecht 1m06.644s Pole shootout
2. John Martin Beijing Guoan 1m07.099s Pole shootout
3. Alvaro Parente FC Porto 1m06.990s Semi final 2
4. Ben Hanley Olympiacos 1m06.960s Semi final 1
5. Max Wissel FC Basel 1m06.997s Quarter final 2
6. Julien Jousse AS Roma 1m07.180s Quarter final 3
7. Frederic Vervisch Liverpool FC 1m07.200s Quarter final 4
8. Yelmer Buurman AC Milan 1m07.226s Quarter final 1
9. Craig Dolby Tottenham Hotspur 1m06.743s Group B
10. Duncan Tappy Flamengo 1m06.929s Group A
11. Tristan Gommendy Galatasaray 1m07.018s Group B
12. Marcos Martinez Sevilla FC 1m06.945s Group A
13. Hywel Lloyd PSV Eindhoven 1m08.328s Group B
14. Robert Doornbos Corinthians 1m07.217s Group A
15. Celso Miguez Olympique Lyonnais 1m07.743s Group A