John Martin won the opening race of round seven of Superleague Formula at Brands Hatch in England, passing polesitter Marcos Martinez of Sevilla at Paddock Hill Bend on the opening lap to score a dominant win for Beijing Guoan.
Martinez jumped ahead at the green light, but Martin, who was a little slow to react and felt the Spaniard had gone before the reds went out, was not to be denied. He swerved across behind Martinez and lunged down his inside under braking for Paddock.
The leaders came perilously close to making contact on the exit of the corner, but Martin clung to the inside line to grab the lead. Behind them, Andy Soucek (Sporting Lisbon) was third across the start line, but Craig Dolby (Tottenham) zoomed around the outside of him at Paddock to take third, with his title rival Yelmer Buurman (AC Milan) running fifth, ahead of a fast-starting Tristan Gommendy (Galatasaray).
Martin pulled out a three-second lead before the pit stops, which did little to shake-up the order among the frontrunners, although Gommendy lost 20s when he knocked down one of his pit crew.
On lap 23, Martinez made a mistake at Paddock, slid wide into the gravel and gifted second place to Dolby, who had charged up behind him on new tires after his stop. Soucek and Buurman then cruised up to Martinez's tail, but neither could make a move stick on the other.
In the end, Martinez's car gave up the ghost with three laps to go on the exit of Paddock, promoting Soucek to his first podium in just two race weekends back in the series.
Buurman's fourth place meant he lost the points lead back to Dolby by one point, while a late-stopping strategy paid off for Franck Montagny, who finished fifth for Bordeaux, ahead of Basel's Max Wissel.
Martin won by over 5sec, having expertly managed the gap back to Dolby for the remainder of the race. Dolby was struggling in the closing laps due to his Zolder wrist injury and was also balked by backmarker Maria de Villota.
Pos Driver Team Time/Gap
1. John Martin Beijing Guoan 45m20.096s
2. Craig Dolby Tottenham Hotspur + 7.438s
3. Andy Soucek Sporting Clube + 14.766s
4. Yelmer Buurman AC Milan + 15.706s
5. Franck Montagny Girondins de Bordeaux + 17.256s
6. Max Wissel FC Basel + 42.073s
7. Chris van der Drift Olympiacos + 53.117s
8. Tristan Gommendy Galatasaray + 53.881s
9. Duncan Tappy Flamengo + 57.014s
10. James Walker Liverpool FC + 57.671s
11. Alvaro Parente FC Porto + 58.883s
12. Franck Perera Olympique Lyonnais + 59.546s
13. Davide Rigon RSC Anderlecht + 1 lap
14. Maria de Villota Atletico de Madrid + 1 lap
15. Robert Doornbos Corinthians + 1 lap
Marcos Martinez Sevilla FC 33 laps
Julien Jousse AS Roma 33 laps
Narain Karthikeyan PSV Eindhoven 5 laps