Craig Dolby won the opening race of round two of the Superleague Formula Nations Cup at Zolder in Belgium this morning, the England driver overcoming series returnee Chris van der Drift of New Zealand in the compulsory pitstops.
Van der Drift led at the start, after poleman Dolby was given a penalty for stalling before his semi-final, demoting him to second.
Dolby pitted at the first opportunity as the mandatory pit window opened on lap 10, while van der Drift left it a lap later. Dolby's ADR crew produced the fastest stop of the race, turning him around in a pit lane time of 33.5s, but van der Drift's stop wasn't so swift, and he lost almost six seconds in total, as Dolby set the fastest lap of the race on his first flying lap after his stop.
That not only cost van der Drift the lead, but also second place to Neel Jani (Belgium/Anderlecht). Dolby controlled the gap to Jani in the second stint of the race, and stroked home to win by three seconds.
"I owe that one to the boys," said Dolby of his pit crew. "I knew we had the speed and just followed Chris early on. An awesome win really. I really nailed it on the in-lap and the out-lap."
Jani said: "I tried to catch England but he had very good pace, more or less the same as me. I didn't risk any more, so I took it safe and settled for second place."
Frederic Vervisch (Luxembourg) got past van der Drift exiting the penultimate corner on the final lap for third, while Robert Doorbos (Japan) - who suffered a near-miss with Jani early on - held Yelmer Buurman (Netherlands) at bay for fifth.
The race was briefly interrupted by a safety car, just before the pit stop cycle began, when opening round pole-man Tristan Gommendy spun into the pit wall after losing control on damp curbs on the exit of the final chicane. He was unhurt, but his team faces a race against time to repair the French car for race two.
Antonio Pizzonia led the race during the pitstop cycle for Brazil, staying out as long as possible and saving his new tires for the reversed-grid race two.
Results - 29 laps:
Pos Driver Team Time/Gap
1. Craig Dolby England 41m15.487s
2. Neel Jani Belgium/Anderlecht + 3.051s
3. Frederic Vervisch Luxembourg + 5.399s
4. Chris van der Drift New Zealand + 6.225s
5. Robert Doornbos Japan + 8.917s
6. Yelmer Buurman Netherlands/PSV + 12.192s
7. John Martin Australia + 23.453s
8. Max Wissel South Korea + 26.823s
9. Antonio Pizzonia Brazil + 34.215s
10. Duncan Tappy Turkey/Galatasaray + 38.108s
11. Mikhail Aleshin Russia + 39.529s
12. Filip Salaquarda Czech/Sparta Praha + 46.291s
13. Andy Soucek Spain/Madrid + 3 laps
Tristan Gommendy France/Bordeaux 5 laps