Corinthians takes Magny-Cours pole
Corinthians beat Liverpool to the first Superleague Formula pole position of the new season at Magny-Cours in France on Saturday, as Antonio Pizzonia pulled out a sensational flying lap to beat Adrian Valles in the head-to-head final.
Pizzonia was ahead right from the first sector, increasing a 0.156s advantage to 0.414s by sector two. He lost time in the final section of the track, but had enough in hand to win by 0.299s with his lap time of 1:26.555s.
In semi-final one, Pizzonia beat Craig Dolby's Tottenham car despite a big lock-up at the Adelaide hairpin. Pizzonia was still over 1s up on the Briton, who promptly spun at Chateau d'Eau to settle the matter.
In the second semi, Valles easily swept past Yelmer Buurman (Anderlecht) by eight-tenths, although Buurman's time was actually quicker than final qualifier Pizzonia.
In the quarter-finals, Pizzonia beat fellow Brazilian ex-Formula 1 racer Enrique Bernoldi (Flamengo), while Valles got a bye when Hitech team-mate Kasper Andersen (FC Midtjylland) failed to run.
The third quarter-final ended in hilarious fashion, as Buurman went off at Chateau d'Eau. Rival Tristan Gommendy (FC Porto) passed him and, thinking it was all over, erroneously headed for the pits! Only at the last second did he realise the tie wasn't over, and swerved back onto the track, cut the chicane and won by 4s. But the stewards took a dim view of this action, and put Buurman through to the semis.
The last quarter was a good fight between Dolby and Rangers' John Martin, which the Tottenham car shaded by a couple of tenths.
In the group sessions, that define the head-to-head knock-outs, Valles topped the first session, beating Dolby by two-tenths on his second flying lap. Buurman and Bernoldi also made it through, but the efforts of those trying to get into the vital top four spots spun off.
First, Pedro Petiz spun Sporting Lisbon's car to a halt at the final chicane, then Ho-Pin Tung rotated at Imola - effectively ending the session two minutes early due to yellow flags. Both were summoned to the race director's office to explain themselves. Also out went Al Ain (Miguel Molina), Lyon (Nelson Panciatici, also summoned to see the stewards) and Roma (Jonathan Kennard).
In Group B, Pizzonia set a 1m26.391s to head Gommendy and Martin. A fantastic battle for the final spot was resolved in favour of Anderson by just 0.032s over last year's champion Davide Rigon, who is now driving for Olympiacos.
Also out in the first round was Max Wissel (Basel), Duncan Tappy (Galatasaray), Dominick Muermans (PSV) and AC Milan's Giorgio Pantano, who completed a couple of slow laps with a malfunctioning gearshift system that stranded him at the foot of the times.