Bruno Junqueira took his third successive win in the FIA F3000 Championship by leading from start to finish at Monaco this afternoon.
The Brazilian benefited from the inevitable first corner collision, when front row men David Saelens and Sebastien Bourdais came together at Ste Devote. The Frenchman was out on the spot, but Saelens was able to continue in fourth position. Junqueira, however, was gifted a clear road and, save for the early attentions of British substitute Jamie Davies and the late appearance of the Safety Car, was not troubled for the rest of the 50-lap distance.
Davies clung on to the leader's exhausts for the first few laps, but gradually found himself dropping away from the green-and-grey Petrobras car, and settled for a hard-earned second. He was untroubled in the first part of the race by third placed Stephane Sarrazin and, when the Frenchman went out with mechanical problems on lap five, inherited a big gap back to a recovering Saelens.
Sarrazin's demise also accounted for the luckless Ricardo Mauricio, as the Frenchman swung across an apparently clear circuit to get off the racing line only to find the fast-arriving Brazilian following him through Portier. The incident helped Saelens' cause by giving him a gap back to his pursuers and, despite being bunched up by the Safety Car, the top three ran unchanged to the flag.
Behind them, however, there was more action - and more passing. Mark Webber ran sixth in the early stages, then fifth and fourth as Sarrazin and Enrique Bernoldi bit the dust, but the Australian was also destined not to see the finishing line as, with three laps to run, he hit the same barriers that claimed his Brazilian opponent.
This allowed the fired-up Kevin McGarrity to take a worthy fourth on the road, after he and Nordic team-mate Justin Wilson provided much of the afternoon's thrills and spills. The Irishman had threatened to pass Webber before the Australian's off, and had previously harried Nicolas Minassian into a mistake as the Safety Car pulled off, while Wilson put in the move of the day to out-brake Franck Montagny at Grand Hotel. Only a lapse at the restart, where Montagny fought back, cost the Englishman another point.
Fellow Britons Darren Manning and Marc Hynes were not as lucky, both falling foul of Monaco's tight confines. Manning succumbed to a relatively innocuous looking brush with the barriers at Ste Devote, but Hynes was lucky to walk away from a shunt on the home 'straight' which brought about the pace car period.
The battle for fourth at the end grew quickly under the yellow flags to include Fernando Alonso, and Jeffrey van Hooydonk, who ran behind Wilson in ninth and tenth. Webber's demise elevated the pair another place apiece but, save for Alonso taking the honour of fastest lap and van Hooydonk that for most spectacular slide, neither had much reward at the end.
Christijan Albers could have been a part of the battle had it not been for a suspension crunching moment at the restart, while Nurburgring stars Fabrizio Gollin and Andreas Scheld at least saw the flag, but were too far adrift to worry the leaders. Scheld raced with them for a bit as the Safety Car pulled off, but was already a lap down after losing his front wing at Ste Devote and served only to give team-mate Davies the cushion he sought to maintain second.
Andrea Piccini and Soheil Ayari retired at the same spot, on the same lap, along the rise to Beau Rivage, while Belgium's Bas Leinders spun out at the chicane. Andre Couto succumbed to mechanical problems, parking up alongside the Swimming Pool, but got further than either Fabrice Walfisch or Viktor Maslov, whose race ended in the melee behind the first corner shunt.
For Junqueira, however, this was the best of results, as much because his championship rivals failed to make large inroads into his lead as for adding points of his own.