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Jousse masters wet race two

Saturday, July 24 2010

Maxime Jousse claimed a remarkable sixth victory of the season in a wet second race at Oulton Park, after an engrossing cat-and-mouse battle with chief title rival Nigel Moore for much of the race.

Rain fell heavily before the start of the race, with almost the entire field opting to switch to wet tyres in the assembly area - Howard Fuller the only driver to make the gamble and opt for slicks.

The field got away cleanly despite the conditions, and as Moore preserved his lead Jousse jumped both Jose Alonso and Ramon Pineiro from the start to take second.

That signalled the start of a duel between Moore and Jousse made all the more interesting by a drying track that was progressively yielding more grip. Though Moore established a small gap early on, it was rarely over a second and Jousse began to reign in the Briton towards the middle of the race, setting a series of fastest laps in the process.

The pressure eventually seemed to tell, with Moore first running wide at Lodge before apparently hitting the tyres on the entry to the Knickerbrook chicane - the damage sustained from the impact dropping Moore out of the race and allowing Jousse to take victory by an emphatic margin over Ramon Pineiro in second.

Jousse's win, coupled with Moore's second DNF of the year, means the Frenchman extends his championship advantage to 59 points - Melroy Heemskerk and Jose Alonso Liste both sharing third, two points behind Moore.

A delighted Jousse said: "I felt like I was a little bit faster than Nigel (Moore), and I was just trying to put pressure on him. He made mistakes twice, I wasn't able to capitalise on the first, but then he hit the tyres (at Knickerbrook). I felt like I was faster, but Nigel has been quicker all weekend so it's a shame for him - but good for me and the championship!"

Ramon Pineiro had initially been able to keep pace with both Moore and Jousse, but as the track dried in the latter stages he began to fall back into the clutches of Jose Alonso Liste - the two Spaniards eventually finishing just over one second apart in second and third respectively.

Kieran Vernon made the most of a brave opening when conditions were at their worst to finish fourth, passing Melroy Heemskerk on lap two to complete his rise from sixth on the grid.

Behind Vernon, Vincent Beltoise had looked set to clinch fifth, but lost the position to Melroy Heemskerk in a last-gasp move on the very final corner - Heemskerk having made up more than one second on Beltoise on the last lap alone.

Giuseppe Cipriani came home seventh, although the Italian was forced to work hard for the position after coming under heavy late pressure from Welshman Ash Davies.

Callum Holland provided the perfect tonic following his bout of gastric flu with an assured ninth, while James Thorp rounded out the top ten after a stellar move on Mark Powell around the outside on the approach to Old Hall Corner.

That meant Powell was forced to settle for 11th, narrowly ahead of Howard Fuller - who ultimately paid the price for his gamble to start the race on slicks. With the track perhaps drying a little slower than expected, Fuller nevertheless deserves credit for keeping his car on track for the duration of the race despite struggling badly for grip.

Luca Orlandi was the only casualty other than Moore in what was a remarkably controlled race in difficult conditions - Orlandi spinning out of the race at Cascades on the opening lap.

Formula Palmer Audi Championship - Rounds 9 & 10 - Oulton Park - Race Two Provisional Classification:

1. Maxime Jousse, 14 laps
2. Ramon Pineiro, +16.6987s
3. Jose Alonso Liste, +17.820s
4. Kieran Vernon, +22.792s
5. Melroy Heemskerk, +30.416s
6. Vincent Beltoise, +31.465s
7. Giuseppe Cipriani, +37.647s
8. Ash Davies, +38.727s
9. Callum Holland, +1:13.430s
10. James Thorp, + 1 lap