Barth Wins The Jackpot!

A tearful Sven Barth still couldn't believe it, even as the German national anthem played. At Monte Carlo on Sunday, the Interwetten driver eased to victory, ahead of Jani (Dams) and Belicchi (AFC Motorsport).

It was all decided at the green light, where poleman Jani couldn't stop Barth from moving past him before turning into Sainte-Devote. Behind them, Belicchi had overtaken Mondini, who was battling it out with Ryan Sharp. Seeing Barth leading the race was doubly surprising, as the young German hadn't taken part in winter testing, and is not even sure to be joining us next week at Brno. But Barth had no time for such thoughts.

An accident at the chicane meant the safety-car was brought out and the race put on stand-by while the damage was cleared. Rojas (Telmex Dams) had lost control and struck the rail, sending him flying over Shimoda and putting paid to both drivers' races. Meanwhile, Scafuro had destroyed his car at the Swimming Pool.

As the order was given to let battle commence once more, Barth kept his lead over Jani. ''I was worried, the race winner later admitted, I was afraid Neel would come back, but I stayed very concentrated.'' And while Jani was helpless to make a move on the leader, Kerr (Victory Eng. SpA) came into contact with Proetto (EuroInternational), who was forced to retire. The British driver came into the pits to change his nose-cone, then again later on for good. Soon after this, mechanical problems would also see Sharp abandon the race.

In front, it was still Barth ahead of Jani, Belicchi, Mondini and Martinez Leon. The leader notched up lap after faultless lap, while back in third Belicchi increased the pace to take the fastest lap. Belicchi, Barth and Jani then went all guns blazing to set the stopwatches on fire.

Back in the chasing pack the battle raged just as hard, but the retirements were increasing, as Pasini then Martinez then Danielsson all fell foul to the ruthless Monaco circuit. But Barth stayed focussed on his target and kept control of his race. Jani pushed hard to climb back, taking the fastest race lap (1'30''964), but to no avail.

An emotional Barth took the chequered flag, and the highest step on the podium, ''I can't believe it. You know, I'm a privateer, so I wasn't sure I'd make it here, and I'm not sure I'll make it to Brno next week. It's totally unexpected, but this win comes at exactly the right time and will definitely help me. I can't believe it.''

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