Bruno Junqueira opened his F3000 win account for the year by taking victory in the Spanish Grand Prix support race.
The Brazilian had to come from behind to win round three of the championship in Barcelona, but maintained the trend of taking victory from second place on the grid. He actually found himself further back than that at the start, having been baulked by swerving pole-sitter Enrique Bernoldi, and was forced to follow Super Nova's David Saelens for much of the race.
Bernoldi, having protected his top slot in dramatic fashion, promptly opened out a gap over his immediate pursuers, and appeared to be cruising to an emphatic maiden win before gradually being reeled in by the second place battle. The rate at which Saelens and Junqueira closed on the leading Brazilian increased as it became apparent that all was not well with the Red Bull Junior car, and Bernoldi suddenly found himself on the defensive with 15 laps to run.
Junqueira had been varying the gap between himself and second place, hoping to put pressure on Saelens and benefit from any mistake the Belgian might make. Instead, however, he found himself perfectly placed to take advantage of an attacking - rather than defensive - move by the super Nova man, as Saelens found himself boxed in by the slowing Bernoldi going into the first turn.
Junqueira was quick to react, driving around the outside of both his rivals, and disappearing into the distance as Bernoldi's defence became more desperate. Saelens, too, found a way by but, by then, it was too late to do anything about the new leader. Indeed, the Belgian had more important things on his mind, as Bernoldi's resistance had allowed super Nova team-mate Nicolas Minassian to close in on the other silver car. The two came close on a couple of occasions before the Frenchman finally forced his way through at the end of the straight, setting off in a fruitless pursuit of Junqueira.
Bernoldi's heartbreaking day was completed when, as he slid back through the field with definite handling problems, he forced Red Bull team-mate Ricardo Mauricio over the grass and into a spin. Tagged by its sister car, Bernoldi's Lola also rotated, and the two Brazilians could hardly bear to faec each other as they both returned to the pits and retirement.
Behind the David Sears-dominated podium, Jeffrey van Hooydonk made it two Belgians in the top four, after a quiet drive from eighth on the grid. Justin Wilson and Franck Montagny likewise completed the top six without much drama, aside from the hairy moment when they caught the embattled Bernoldi.
In seventh, Darren Manning put in a justifiable claim to have made up most places, climbing from 20th on the grid courtesy, in the main, to a blinding start and good fortune in the first lap scramble. The Yorkshireman's Silverstone nemesis was not so lucky, however. Mark Webber started from, for him, a lowly 17th, and collided with the perennially unfortunate Kevin McGarrity in the opening melee. Both repaired to the pits, Webber rejoining for an extended test session, McGarrity having to call it a day - again.
Championship favourite Stephane Sarrazin again paid the price of a poor qualifying performance, rising only to ninth by the flag. McLaren Junior team partner Tomas Enge spun away another points finish, as did Soheil Ayari, while Kristian Kolby became a victim of home exuberance as Fernando Alonso pushed the Dane off and out. Indeed, Alonso was one of the stars of the show, doing most of the overtaking in another largely processional race. Unfortunately for the young Spaniard, he found himself having to pass the same people over and over again as he insisted on spinning away his hard work.
Junqueira's win lifts him to the top of the points standings, two points clear of Minassian and four clear of Webber. The leading trio then have a healthy gap back to the combined talents of Manning and Wilson but, as the season has proven so far, no-one can really be counted out.