There was to be no fairytale first FIA F3000 victory for Barcelona-based BCN Competicion, as pre-season favourite Vitantonio Liuzzi got the better of Enrico Toccacelo at the start of round two and simply disappeared en route
to his second win of the year.
Having never graced the top step of the podium before the season started at Imola two weeks ago, the Arden International driver is now getting a taste for the high life, adding victory in Barcelona to that at the Italian circuit as Arden's title-winning magic continues to rub off on its drivers.
Although BCN's Toccacelo annexed pole position for the local team, he had not acted as tactically as his front row partner, and Liuzzi used a brand new set of tyres to get the better of his fellow countryman on the long run to turn one. Once in front, the Arden man pulled steadily away from the pack, survived the mandatory pit-stop and took a comfortable eleven-second margin of victory.
"My start was great, even though I had to start from the dirty side, and I had already almost won the race with that," Liuzzi admitted, "The car was again perfect today and I had no problems at all at the pit-stop – congratulations to Team Arden. Two races and two victories – I would love to go on like that!"
As he had at the opening round, Toccacelo was the best of the rest on show, and shadowed Liuzzi - albeit at a distance - for the entire 32-lap duration, giving BCN its second straight podium finish and keeping himself in the title race.
"It was still a positive race for me, because another second position is not bad," a philosophical Toccacelo insisted, "At the start, I had too much wheelspin and, later, I had problems with my gearbox, losing fifth gear - I had to spend the rest of the race going straight from fourth to sixth. The championship is long and we still have a lot of time to catch Liuzzi.”
Raffaele Giammaria completed an all-Italian podium, building on his fourth place on home soil to move up a place in Barcelona. The AEZ driver, who survived a massive testing shunt at the same venue just a week before the season started, had a harder race than either of the frontrunners after making up ground on the battle for the final podium position. Once rookie Alan van der Merwe and veteran Jeffrey van Hooydonk had made contact, however, the scrap distilled into a head-to-head between Giammaria and Patrick Friesacher, with the Italian emerging on top by a couple of seconds.
“I made a good start, but then I was blocked behind others and had to lift and let others through," Friesacher reported, "I think I would have made up three places there otherwise. Then I was stuck behind van Hooydonk, who wasn't very fast but didn't give me a chance to pass him. Also, in the pits, one of the mechanics had a problem with the rear tyre, and I lost a bit of time there too."
The collision between van der Merwe and van Hooydonk also allowed the second BCN car of rookie Esteban Guerrieri claim points for sixth, the Argentine newcomer finishing ahead of the two CMS entries of Jose-Maria Lopez and Mathias Lauda. Lopez had been among the cream of the crop in testing but, after crashing out at Imola, struggled to keep pace with the frontrunners after qualifying poorly in Spain, coming home four seconds behind Guerrieri.