Davide Rigon (RSC Anderlecht) held off an incredible challenge by Craig Dolby (Tottenham) to clinch the 2010 Superleague Formula by Sonangol title and a cheque for €1,000,000 by just two points in an amazing season-finale at Navarra.
Despite starting the final two races of the year 24 points behind the Italian, a brilliant charge through the field in race 2 saw Dolby close to within four of Rigon’s lead heading into the weekend-ending Super Final where six points were up for grabs.
Knowing he had to win, and hope Rigon finished sixth in the five lap dash-for-cash race, Dolby immediately beat John Martin (Beijing Guoan) off the line to take the lead.
While Rigon initially started strongly to go third, he soon slipped behind Esteban Guerrieri (PSV Eindhoven) and then Franck Perera (Bordeaux) before coming under pressure from Alvaro Parente (FC Porto) as his title hopes hung by a thread.
With two laps to go however, Martin fought back to pass Dolby. Rigon then also moved ahead of Perera meaning the Italian crossed the line knowing he’d won the title by the narrowest of margins despite Dolby’s heroic effort.
Rigon, who won the inaugural Superleague Formula title with Beijing Guoan in 2008, now has a second trophy in his cabinet and leaves Spain €1,000,000 richer, while his total prize money in 2010 is an incredible €1.68 million! For the second year running Dolby finishes second overall winning €500,000 while Max Wissel (FC Basel) pocketed €250,000 for third.
Earlier, Dolby’s drive in race 2 was one of the highlights of the season so far as he charged from 16th on the fully-reversed grid to finish fourth, pulling off a succession of stunning overtaking moves along the way, including a last-lap pass on Maxi Cortes (AS Roma), to keep his title hopes alive heading into the Super Final.
The race was interrupted for a lengthy period after a moment of high-drama which saw Wissel’s slim title hopes evaporate when he was blocked by Adrian Valles (Sporting Lisbon) who had spun at the final corner.
Moments later Rigon was tapped into a spin by Martin at turn 1 as cars scattered when Robert Doornbos (Corinthians) slowed dramatically. Rigon just managed to avoid stalling his engine and keep going, finishing 11th to hold on to his slender points lead heading into the Super Final.
After Valles’ car was cleared away a fantastic race resumed with Parente taking the win from Guerrieri and Marcos Martinez (Sevilla FC), who led after the stops but dropped back as he struggled for grip following a late shower.
Martin’s Super Final win took his season’s earnings to over €350,000 as the Australian, who entered the weekend free from the constraints of fighting for the title, continued to shine, winning race 1 and then driving from the back of the 18-car grid to sixth in race 2. Dolby was second, while Guerrieri wrapped up an impressive return to the series in third.
Davide Rigon (RSC Anderlecht): “This is unbelievable because it was very difficult to win the title this weekend. I was hit in race 2 by Beijing and the engine turned off. I had to switch it to manual and then put the car in reverse and it just started again. It was a very scary moment! Thank you to RSC Anderlecht, it has been a pleasure to drive for them this year and also thank you so much to the Azerti team. They have supported me all season and given everything. Superleague Formula is a very professional championship and today was a fantastic show for everybody.”
Craig Dolby (Tottenham Hotspur): “Everyone saw how much this meant to me this weekend. I gave it everything I’ve got but it wasn’t quite enough. It hurts like mad right now to finish second again. Maybe it will feel better in the morning but it doesn’t feel good at the moment. Congratulations to Davide though. It has been a great year for Superleague Formula and I hope I’ll be back to win it in 2011.”
Max Wissel (FC Basel): “We came here to win the championship but it hasn’t quite worked out. We were three seconds behind Davide in free practice and although we improved we didn’t have the pace to win and we don’t know why. However the team did a great job this season. I haven’t had a single car failure and I’m quite happy with third. I don’t think we could have done much differently.”