Frederic Vervisch lands €100,000 payday with thrilling Superleague triumph at Zolder

Frederic Vervisch lands €100,000 payday with thrilling Superleague triumph at Zolder

17.07.2011: Frederic Vervisch (Luxembourg) has won Superleague Formula's weekend-closing Superfinal at Zolder, triumphing in a thrilling encounter and netting himself a cool €100,000 in the process.

Frederic Vervisch (Luxembourg) has won Superleague Formula's weekend-closing Superfinal at Zolder, triumphing in a thrilling encounter and netting himself a cool €100,000 in the process.

Following the excitement of last month’s season opener at Assen the action resumed at typically relentless pace at the Belgian venue, with three winners from three races in two-and-a-half breathless hours.

Vervisch had earlier taken third in the day's opening race before making stellar progress through the field in race two, carving his way up the order from the penultimate row of the grid to finish fourth on the road.

That gave him the box seat for the dash-for-cash Superfinal, and after getting a perfect start he looked largely untroubled from behind. With second place starter and race two winner John Martin (Australia) finding his mirror’s full of Neel Jani’s Belgium-RSC Anderlecht car, Vervisch's win looked to be in the bag.

But rain began to hit the circuit on the penultimate lap, and it was now Martin in the ascendency. The Australian quickly destroyed Vervisch's lead and was all over the gearbox of the Luxembourg car throughout the final tour. Vervisch looked vulnerable, sliding across the chicane as he struggled for grip, but somehow held on to claim the win. Martin crossed the line just 0.268s shy of the victor with Jani a further 0.498s behind the Australian.

The day had begun in typically exciting fashion, with Craig Dolby (England) triumphing in the opening race thanks to a lightning-fast pitstop and his own relentless pace.

After taking pole on Saturday Dolby was relegated to second on the grid for race one following a qualifying pitlane infringement by his team, but the Englishman wasn't going to let that stop him triumphing at Zolder, a circuit he has excelled on throughout his career. Harrying poleman Chris van der Drift (New Zealand) during the opening stint, Dolby snatched the lead of the 40-minute run during the pitstops. The England crew turned their man the best part of a second faster than their rivals, allowing Dolby to re-join the action in P1.

From here Dolby was in his element. With a clear track in front of him he hammered home the fast laps to carve out a comfortable lead and eventually win by 3.051s from Jani.

Vervisch meanwhile snatched the final podium spot with a pass on erstwhile leader van der Drift just a few corners from home. The Belgian had spent the entire second stint harrying the Kiwi and finally made that pressure pay at the last gasp.

Just 25-minutes later the racing resumed, with Martin scoring a dominant victory to book his place in the Superfinal.

Starting from seventh on the reversed grid, Martin climbed up the order early on to put himself in contention for the win early on.

The Australian racer then lit up the timing screens and enjoyed a perfect pitstop to rejoin second, which was almost certain to become P1 with the race-leading car of Tristan Gommendy (France - Girondins de Bordeaux) having failed to make his mandatory pitstop.

But Martin was in no mood to wait for a stewards’ decision to hand him the lead, steaming up the inside of Gommendy into turn one to grab first position with a little over ten minutes remaining in the 40-minute run. From there Martin was untouchable, disappearing at the head of the field to win by 5.383s from series returnee Max Wissel (South Korea). The podium was completed by debutant Mikhail Aleshin (Russia), a superb result in only his second Superleague Formula race.

Meanwhile there was heartbreak for race one winner and erstwhile championship leader Dolby. The Englishman’s car developed gearbox problems that forced him from proceedings and ruled him out of the Superfinal, where he would undoubtedly have been a major contender for the victory.

Australia now lead the points standings following the Zolder thriller, from where Superleague Formula next travels to Brazil, with Goiânia hosting the series for what is sure to be yet another classic racing encounter.

Frederic Vervisch (Luxembourg)
: “I am really happy to win the Superfinal. I thought I had a comfortable lead, but when it started to rain my engineer was saying over the radio to be careful and not go off. In the end I slowed down a bit too much, and it became very close with John, so I decided to drive the way I was before and I almost lost it in the first chicane! 

It was really exciting at the last corner, but fortunately nobody did anything crazy. My other Superfinal win was also tight, but this was one of the closest finishes of my whole career. I will have a big party tonight with the team to celebrate.”

John Martin (Australia): “The entire weekend went well for us: we’ve been fast since Friday. We made a small mistake in qualifying, but today was almost perfect, so I can’t complain too much. I tried my best to overtake Frederic on the last lap of the Superfinal, but there was nothing I could do and I did not want to crash into him.

When the rain started, the circuit became very slippery, so I decided to be careful and see what happened. Then I caught him, but he did a good job to keep me behind. Overall, to be on the Superfinal podium, win race two and extend our championship lead is great.”

Neel Jani (Belgium – RSC Anderlecht):
“I am delighted to put Belgium on the podium for their home event. As a Swiss this is the closest I can get to a home race, as we do not have any circuits in Switzerland! In the Superfinal, we were running well and putting a lot of pressure on John.

Obviously he and I have a little history from Assen, where I was running third before he took me out, so I was careful to avoid another incident. Still, it is great for us to be on the podium this weekend.”

- Mark Thursfield -  photos Superleague


17.07.2011 / MaP

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