Dolby wins €100,000 at Superleague Formula opener

Craig Dolby started his 2011 season in superb style at the TT Circuit Assen in Holland at the weekend with a strong points haul and a cheque for €100,000 in the opening round of the 2011 Superleague Formula Nations Cup.

Driving for team England, the Melton Mowbray-based driver, who has finished runner-up in the series for the past two seasons, got his title challenge underway with a magnificent second place in the weekend’s first 40-minute feature race, a solid eighth from the back of the grid in the second event and then a win in the five-lap, dash-for-cash Super Final.

Dolby’s weekend didn’t start well on Saturday when a miscommunication with his team saw him ease off on his final lap in the group stages of Superleague Formula’s unique qualifying format and miss out on the quarter finals.

However, starting the first race down in ninth place, the 23-year-old Brit showed all his trademark overtaking prowess with a stunning drive to second place, secured in the final two laps when he dived past both Frederic Vervisch and Robert Doornbos in one move.

With the finishing positions in the opening race fully-reversed to form the grid for the second event, Dolby started down on the back row but picked his way through the field to finish in a solid eighth place and earn his place in the Super Final.

A superb getaway from fourth on the grid in the weekend-ending race saw him jump to second place by the first corner and then pull a move on Australian John Martin to take the lead at mid-distance.

His victory still wasn’t assured however, as a late charge from ex-F1 driver Antonio Pizzonia in the Brazil car and, unlike Dolby, running on new tyres, saw Craig defending furiously in the last two laps before celebrating a magnificent win.

Craig Dolby: “It’s a great first weekend for me racing under the England banner and I’m delighted to have pulled off a win. We didn’t make it easy for ourselves in qualifying, but I think people know by now that even if we qualify further back, we’re still always there in the race. We had a great first race and in the Super Final it was so good to be battling wheel-to-wheel with John and Antonio, knowing that we’d always give each other room. I have a lot of respect for those guys and I hope it was a good show for everyone.

“The car was perfect, so a big thank you to Alan Docking Racing. With €100,000 in our pockets we’ll have a big party when we get back to England. A lot of my friends were watching so it will be awesome when I’m home. I’m focussing on Zolder now, it’s a long season and last year I finished second by just two points, so we plan to push hard now.”

Dolby lies third in the standings after Assen, just three points adrift of leaders Duncan Tappy (Japan) and John Martin (Australia). The second round of the Superleague Formula Nations Cup takes place at Zolder in Belgium on 16/17 July. 

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