Brazilian Bruno Junqueira made the most of his good fortune to add a second successive F3000 win at the Nurburgring this afternoon.
Although the 45-lap race began in dry conditions, it was hit halfway through by the sort of rainstorm that blights the German circuit but, despite several cars departing the fray in difficult conditions, they only added to those already lost in a first corner melee and a handful of individual excursions.
Junqueira shared the front row with Belgian David Saelens but, as is becoming customary in F3000 this season, neither made it to the first corner in front. Instead, as the D2 Playlife Super Nova Lola of Saelens staggered away from the line, fourth-placed Enrique Bernoldi scrambled around the outside of both cars ahead of him to lead through the Castrol-S.
In his wake, Saelens tried too hard to atone for his initial error, only to compound his mistake by making another. Running wide into the first turn, he succeeded only in ploughing through the gravel trap and spinning in front of the pack. Unsurprisingly, the attempts at avoidance caused more chaos than they avoided, and several races ended almost before they had begun.
Saelens was out on the spot, and was joined on the sidelines by the luckless Kevin McGarrity, erstwhile championship leader Mark Webber, series veterans Soheil Ayari and Jeffrey van Hooydonk, while Spanish teenager Fernando Alonso exited stage right with his Telefonica car perched precariously atop Ricardo Mauricio's Red Bull version.
With the Safety Car scrambled, the field was able to close and gather its thoughts, with Mauricio's team-mate Bernoldi still holding the advantage from Junqueira. Behind them Tomas Enge remained in touch with third placed Franck Montagny. Others, including many from the tail of the field survived the carnage courtesy of their poor qualifying performances, while Britons Darren Manning and Jamie Davies both sought refuge by cutting directly across the gravel trap.
The Safety Car disappeared only briefly, and thereafter made sporadic appearances as the junior F1 pack found it hard to stay on the track and difficult to park their stricken cars far enough away to allow racing to continue unabated. Shortly after the first lap debris had been cleared, Bas Leinders spun in front of Saelens team-mate Nicolas Minassian, rendering them both hors de combat
and requiring the field to be bunched up once more.
Not long after it had been withdrawn for a second time, Bernoldi skated out of the race with a suspension failure at the Veedol Chicane, leaving Junqueira out in front and seemingly cruising to a second win in a row.
Then the rain arrived.
With everyone still on slicks, the road was narrow at the best of times, but when Justin Wilson contrived to spin his Nordic Lola almost in front of the pack, Franck Montagny was left with nowhere to go in avoidance and ploughed into the Briton in an incident frighteningly reminiscent of that which injured Mario Haberfeld last time out. Fortunately, on this occasion, neither driver was hurt.