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Spurs pipped in SF title race

Despite the best efforts of Tottenham Hotspur driver Craig Dolby, Liverpool claimed the 2009 Superleague Formula title at Jarama, Spain, at the weekend after Adrian Valles produced the two consistent performances he needed to seal the crown.

Despite the best efforts of Tottenham Hotspur driver Craig Dolby, Liverpool claimed the 2009 Superleague Formula title at Jarama, Spain, at the weekend after Adrian Valles produced the two consistent performances he needed to seal the crown.

The Spaniard, who came to the final round with a hefty 49-point cushion over Craig, finished race 1 seventh before avoiding the potential pitfalls of race 2 to climb from 12th to fourth by the chequered flag.

Craig, meanwhile, put in a pair of storming drives, moving from 10th to 4th in the opening race before producing arguably the drive of the season in the second, passing car after car to come through to second after starting 15th. Despite his heroics, Spurs still missed out on the championship by 30 points.

Race 1

The tight confines of Jarama were always going to make the start potentially hazardous for the three British clubs crammed in the midfield. And so it proved when Rangers' John Martin found his path into the first corner blocked by those squabbling ahead, leaving him with little choice but to skip across the gravel trap and re-join at the tail of the field.

Both Spurs and Liverpool, meanwile, were picking their way through the field to move up a position each, Dolby to 9th and Valles 13th, although the Spaniard would slip back one spot five laps later. With overtaking opportunities at a premium, they wouldn't improve again until the seventh tour thanks to Galatasaray's retirement before Valles re-passed Olympiacos for 12th moments later.

It wasn't long before the first flurry of mandatory pit stops. Both English clubs stopped on lap nine, slick work from each crew ensuring a quick turnaround and ultimately resulting in places gained once the rest of the field had pitted, Spurs moving up to 6th and Liverpool 10th.

Dolby now needed to push if he was to close his hefty points' deficit further. But despite running nose-to tail behind FC Basel's Max Wissel for the next eight laps, the Briton could find no way through before he was demoted himself by AS Roma's Julien Jousse.

One final sting in the tail remained though. The charging Jousse, having achieved what Dolby couldn't by passing Basel, set off in pursuit of Corinthians' Antonio Pizzonia. Once there, he only succeeded in crashing into the back of the Brazilian, eliminating the pair while suitably delaying Wissel for Dolby to sweep by into fourth. The double retirement also helped Liverpool, however, with Valles finishing seventh to give away just ten points to his rival ahead of the final race. It meant that Dolby would need to climb from 15th to 3rd in the decider, while relying on a Liverpool retirement if he was to steal the crown.

Race 2

The first corner of the opening lap again saw drama when Olympiacos was squeezed on entry and ended up T-boning PSV Eindhoven, sending the Dutch club spinning across the track into the path of oncoming traffic. Both Liverpool and Spurs did well to avoid the melee but Rangers were again an innocent third party, Martin reacquainting himself with the gravel trap before continuing.

The carnage left little choice but for the Safety Car to be deployed. When racing resumed, Liverpool sat 7th with Spurs hot on their heels in 9th. Dolby was in no mood to hang around though, overtaking both race 1 winner Anderlecht and Valles around the outside of the first corner, before an epic move on Sevilla's Sebastien Bourdais and Lyon's Nelson Panciatici lifted him to fifth. Fourth and third followed within just two laps, before Dolby assumed first when the leaders stopped for fresh tyres.

Staying out ten laps longer than his rivals, Dolby built a 30 second cushion before pitting. He rejoined second, six seconds down on Galatasaray but in a position to score enough points should Liverpool falter. But the experienced Valles, who has seldom made a mistake all season, was not about to do anything rash in his championship hour. Having survived the earlier incidents, and after making the most of his quick pit stop to jump up to 5th, he took advantage of a mistake by Sevilla late on to claim fourth and secure the crown.

Craig said: "I'm obviously very disappointed not to win the championship, but I pushed as hard as I could and had a lot of fun. I managed to make some incredible overtaking manoeuvres - around the outside of Anderlecht and Liverpool into turn 1 and then around the outside of Bourdais later. It was unbelievable and I was screaming down the radio to the boys in the pits at one point! We've had some bad luck here and there without which things could have been different, but overall it has been a great year."