Mark Webber dominated the fifth round of the FIA Formula 3000 Championship around the famed streets of Monte Carlo, making up for his car damaging shunt at the end of qualifying.

Webber qualified his Super Nova Lola on pole position and led all the way in a frenetic, 45-lap race, becoming the first Super Nova driver ever to have won in Monaco - and the first Australian to have triumphed in a major race here since Jack Brabham won the grand prix in 1959.

It wasn't plain sailing for Webber all weekend, however, as, shortly after setting his pole position time on Friday, he ran wide at Rascasse corner and crashed into the barriers.

"It felt great to get pole," he said, "but I'm sorry to have caused the team some extra work. The car was really good and I was trying hard to improve when I crashed. It had been my best lap of the day up to that point, but I just went into the corner a little bit too fast and that was it. There is not much of a dividing line here between being on the limit and being in the barriers. You don't have to do much to land yourself in trouble, and that's what happened. At least we had done enough by then to get pole. We've had a couple of snags in the last two races that kept us away from the front, but I think this is a fairer reflection of our potential."

The team worked hard into the evening to repair the car, finally refettling the Lola in time for the late afternoon race.

"They did a marvellous job," Webber said, "because the damage was worse than they initially realised. They thought they had just about completed the repairs, but when they set the car down it turned out that the steering column was bent - probably from the force of my arms on the wheel when I hit the rail. That meant they had to work for another couple of hours, which cost them a bit of time they were hoping to spend on the beach. The least I could do was repay them with a win."

With overtaking being so difficult on Monaco's compact street track, a good start was always essential, and Webber jumped into the lead - and made a good early break because second and third-fastest qualifiers Justin Wilson and Darren Manning briefly collided at the first turn. Championship leader Wilson escaped unscathed, although Manning was forced to pit to replace his front wing.

Although Webber was several lengths clear at the end of the opening lap, his advantage swiftly dwindled because the safety car came out to allow the remains of a multiple pile-up at the hairpin to be cleared.

"It was no big drama," Webber said. "I knew Justin was there, so I thought we would be in for a pretty competitive afternoon, but, as it turned out, I was able to control the pace pretty much as I pleased. The car was absolutely perfect from start to finish. I cannot begin to tell you how much I was enjoying myself out there. I am just so, so happy for everybody in the team and for Renault, which has been giving me great support this year."

The race was later interrupted by a second safety car period, following another accident, and Webber's comfortable lead was annulled once more. He quickly picked up his pace, however, and went on to record the race's fastest lap on lap 43.

"The only frustrating part of the afternoon," he said, "was following the safety car. I didn't want to go at such reduced speed because I had been enjoying myself so much."

Webber's second win of the year, the third of his FIA F3000 career, moves him closer to series leader Wilson, who is just eleven points ahead with seven races remaining.

"There is a long way to go in the championship and we are still in there fighting, despite the fact we hadn't scored points in the previous two races," Webber said.

"When I got up this morning I saw the sun and thought, 'Heck, this could be a pretty punishing afternoon physically', but, although it was hard work, I felt really good. I forgot to put a drinks bottle in my car at this event last season - and I wasn't going to make that mistake again. The races are a little bit shorter this season, but 45 laps around this place are still hard work. I've no idea how many gearchanges we make per lap, but it must be 30 or 40. It was gruelling, but I enjoyed every moment."

Webber backed off on the final lap of the race and led Wilson across the line by just 0.8 seconds.

"I wanted to savour the day for as long as possible," he smiled

The series continues at the Nurburgring in Germany on 23 June.



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