Yelmer Buurman scored a dominant victory for Anderlecht in the first Superleague Formula race at Jarama in Spain, the Dutchman passing early leader Sebastien Bourdais at Turn 1 immediately after his mandatory pit stop at one-third distance.
Bourdais (Sevilla) led from pole position and pulled out a three-second advantage over Buurman during the opening laps, but this was negated when he suddenly spun at the Pegio left-hander.
"The grip from the rear tires just disappeared," said Bourdais. "I was lucky to recover so quickly and keep the lead."
The Frenchman stayed ahead until he pitted on lap nine, but Buurman stayed out. This was not intentional, however, as his radio had gone down, so he stopped a lap later than intended.
As he rejoined, Bourdais was alongside him going into Turn 1. It appeared the former F1 racer would retain his lead, but he clipped the pit lane speed limiter as he turned into the corner, causing the car to hesitate as he accelerated out, and Buurman was through into a lead he would never relinquish. Buurman set fastest lap as he pulled away, and won the race by 14 seconds.
"Amazing," he said. "At the beginning Seb pulled a gap, so I decided to save my tires. Then he spun, and I almost passed him but it would've been high risk, but I got him after the pit stop anyway. I wondered why he didn't get on the power quicker and you [media] just told me why!"
Giorgio Pantano was a lonely third throughout for AC Milan, with only a first corner brush of wheels with Antonio Pizzonia (Corinthians) to trouble his day. Pizzonia was on course for fourth, but Roma's Julien Jousse, who had charged through from ninth, hit him twice with a couple of laps remaining.
The first impact gave Pizzonia a right-rear puncture, which caused him to slow dramatically at Portago bend, and Jousse hit him again and vaulted over the rear of his car spectacularly. When they got back to the pits, Pizzonia vented his fury by slapping Jousse's helmet – the "teammates" giving Alan Docking Racing's crew a lot of work before race two.
"He came from nowhere, I gave him room and he still hit me," said Pizzonia. Jousse countered: "I was a bit optimistic the first time, but then he braked in the middle of the corner, and I went right over the top of him. It was a big shame as I'd passed a lot of cars in that race."
This allowed Tottenham's Craig Dolby to jump three places, as he also slipped ahead of FC Basel's Max Wissel during the fracas. He had battled his way through from 10th on the grid, while title rival Adrian Valles of Liverpool climbed from 14th to seventh. The result gave a 10-point swing in Tottenham's favor.
Valles leads the series by 39 points going into the final round, so Dolby needs at least third with Valles retiring early to have any chance of claiming the title.
Pos Driver Team Time/Gap
1. Yelmer Buurman Anderlecht 46m32.409s
2. Sebastien Bourdais Sevilla FC + 14.048s
3. Giorgio Pantano AC Milan + 30.729s
4. Craig Dolby Tottenham Hotspur + 35.924s
5. Max Wissel FC Basel + 39.164s
6. Tristan Gommendy FC Porto + 53.145s
7. Adrian Valles Liverpool + 53.742s
8. Esteban Guerrieri Olympiacos + 56.171s
9. Nelson Panciatici Olympique Lyonnais + 1m00.262s
10. John Martin Rangers + 1m04.524s
11. Enrique Bernoldi Flamengo + 1m13.243s
12. Carlo van Dam PSV Eindhoven + 1m16.659s
13. Pedro Petiz Sporting + 1 lap
Antonio Pizzonia Corinthians 31 laps
Julien Jousse AS Roma 31 laps
Ho-Pin Tung Galatasaray 7 laps
Maria de Villota Atletico Madrid 1 lap
Kasper Andersen FC Midtylland 0 laps