x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Al Ain's damp start

Victories for the Beijing Gu'aon and the Sevilla teams in first meeting at Donington Park.

The Al Ain car, driven by Andreas Züber, slides into the gravel at Donington Park after hitting the Porto car during the second race of the inaugural meeting of the Superleague Formula series.
The Al Ain car, driven by Andreas Züber, slides into the gravel at Donington Park after hitting the Porto car during the second race of the inaugural meeting of the Superleague Formula series.

CASTLE DONINGTON // The grey English weather put a dampener on Al Ain's Superleague Formula entry yesterday as Andreas Züber, the team's driver, was knocked out early in the second of two races at Donington Park. In driving rain, the Austrian was forced off the track by Tristan Gomendy of the FC Porto team at the second corner, sliding off the track and through an advertising hoarding before going back across the track, where he was fortunate not to be hit by the pack.

Züber, who had started the second race in 12th position, could not continue and climbed out of his car in obvious disgust. "I was outside of the Porto car, down the hill, and he just turned right and hit me and pushed me off," said Züber after the race. "I don't know, I guess he didn't see me." His day had started on a brighter note with a battling sixth-place finish in the early race, which saw the pole sitter David Rigon of Beijing Gu'aon take the win under cloudy skies and a dry track.

Enrico Toccacelo of AS Roma finished second ahead of Duncan Tappy of Tottenham Hotspur. The first two races of the Superleague Formula season were eventful to say the least. In the first event, seven of 17 cars that started did not finish, most due to mechanical problems. But Züber, who qualified ninth on the grid, suffered from early contact that affected his car and his performance for the rest of the race.

He said: "One of the guys crashed in my back and broke my diffuser, so I had to do the whole race without the diffuser. The car had lots of understeer." For much of the race, Züber held on to fifth spot in a heated battle with Adrian Valles of Liverpool, despite his damaged car, but he lost the position with just two laps to go in the race. "I made a mistake. I went too much on the brakes [before a turn] because I lost the rear, and he passed me.

"But sixth place is not bad. We're happy that we finished the race." Ironically, after the race Züber had welcomed the idea of driving in the rain. "Yes, I like rain a lot. Rain is even better for me, because I can overtake and pass better." But the rain, which varied from heavy drizzle to torrential downpour throughout the 50-minute event, played havoc with the field late in the race. Borja Garcia of Sevilla FC managed to hang on to win in an event that saw a number of spins and crashes. Tuka Rocha of Flamengo was second while Valles of Liverpool FC took third.

Only 15 cars started the second race, as two could not be repaired in time from shunts in the first event that finished about two hours before. Because Züber finished sixth in the first race, he started 12th in the second as per Superleague rules that reverses the finishing order of the first race for the second event. And even though he didn't finish the late event, Züber ended the day with 35 points in the championship standings.

@Email:nvorano@thenational.ae