Frederic Vervisch produced an amazing start and a tenacious drive to win the Algarve Superleague Formula super final for Liverpool, scooping the €100,000 top prize.
Vervisch, in only his second-ever Superleague race weekend, rocketed from fourth to first off the standing start to lead Davide Rigon (Anderlecht) and John Martin (Beijing Guoan) into Turn 1.
Max Wissel (Basel) was also in the mix in the early going but slipped back to a distant fourth, while poleman Robert Doornbos (Corinthians) and Tristan Gommendy (Lyon) clashed at Turn 1, forcing both out.
That was significant, as the next time around there was waved yellow flags, and Martin passed Rigon, who was quick to wave his finger to complain. Martin stayed ahead for the next couple of laps, but despite the fact both he and Rigon had new tyres, Vervisch was doing an amazing job to hold them both off.
Martin then took the lead from Vervisch at the start of the last lap, only to back off under instruction from the pitwall, and let both Vervisch and Rigon back through. Rigon ran out of time to get past Vervisch, who clung on to win by four tenths of a second from Rigon and Martin.
"I had a good start but I knew I didn't have the new tyres and just had to hold them off," said Vervisch. "I cannot believe I did it. I can [afford] to go to the next round now. I'm speechless."
An annoyed Rigon added: "Beijing overtook me under yellows, and I used my push-to-pass to overtake him and not Liverpool."
Martin, who is suffering from a heavy cold, was so exhausted after the race he slumped against a garage door. He was unable to take his place on the podium while he received medical assistance.
Pos Driver Team Time/Gap
1. Frederic Vervisch Liverpool FC 7m50.206s
2. Davide Rigon RSC Anderlecht + 0.471s
3. John Martin Beijing Guoan + 0.940s
4. Max Wissel FC Basel + 9.175s
Robert Doornbos Corinthians 0 laps
Tristan Gommendy Olympique Lyonnais 0 laps