Super Nova driver Nicolas Minassian headed a French 1-2 in the sixth round of the FIA F3000 championship at Magny-Cours, as the points race was blown open.
Minassian got the jump on polesitter Sebastien Bourdais, and was never troubled throughout the 49-lap race as he eased his D2-sponsored Lola away from the field. Clear by the first corner, the Frenchman survived the usual incident at the Adelaide hairpin to win by almost four seconds from his junior countryman.
Bourdais had to endure a mite more pressure than the winner, coming under pressure in the middle part of the race from Minassian's Super Nova team-mate David Saelens. Only when the Belgian spun at Adelaide, trying an optimistic lunge down the inside of the Gauloises car, did the pressure ease, but the incident broke Bourdais' concentration sufficiently to allow the leader to make good his escape.
Saelens fell momentarily into the clutches of fourth-placed Franck Montagny, but was able to pull away again as the Frenchman came under pressure from fired-up compatriot Stephane Sarrazin. The mySAP.com driver was among those to make a good start, and was quickly into the top six despite a lowly 14th in qualifying. For a while, it looked as though the two French drivers would swap places, as the ran nose-to-tail for a couple of laps, but Sarrazin eventually undid all his good work by spinning at Lycee and dropping behind team-mate Tomas Enge.
Championship leader Bruno Junqueira had a day to forget, meanwhile, despite making a good start of his own. Only ninth on the grid, the Brazilian was also smartly into the top six, but two self-inflicted incidents dropped him to an unrepresentative 13th at the flag.
Likewise Mark Webber was caught up in the early melees, and also failed to score points as his European Arrows car became embroiled in a scrap with Fabrice Walfisch for 16th. Britons Darren Manning and Justin Wilson finished eighth and ninth, with Kevin McGarrity buried deep at the foot of the top twenty. Marc Hynes retired in the aftermath of a lap two incident involving Jaime Melo Jr, Ricardo Mauricio and Andre Couto.
Minassian's success slashes Junqueira's championship advantage to just ten points, while team-mate Saelens closes the gap to third-placed Webber by another four points.