Button takes Legends points lead, eventful debut for Alonso - The Race
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Button takes Legends points lead, eventful debut for Alonso

May 16 2020
By Valentin Khorounzhiy

Fernando Alonso had an incident-filled Legends Trophy debut in the Zandvoort round of The Race All-Star Series powered by ROKiT Phones, as Jenson Button took the championship lead.

The two races, held on the new version of the Zandvoort circuit with banked Hugenholz and Arie Luyendyk corners – were won by Jan Magnussen and Emanuele Pirro.

Ex-Stewart F1 driver Magnussen leaped to the top of the qualifying timesheets with a 1m28.341s initial lap – and though he was 0.006s slower the second time by, his pole time came under no threat.

Button was a tenth slower in second, while Alonso was an impressive fourth, albeit beaten at the chequered flag by his fellow former Ferrari Formula 1 driver Mika Salo.

At the start, as Magnussen kept the lead, Salo nudged Button wide at the Tarzan corner, and was then seemingly clipped by Alonso on exit – but he was unimpeded, while Alonso spun front wing-first into the wall.

Fernando Alonso All-Star Legends Trophy

It set the tone for an eventful debut for two-time F1 champion Alonso, who was then hit by a flying Oriol Servia on the opening lap but subsequently recovered to sixth after pushing his way past Petter Solberg.

A third-lap excursion demoted him to eighth, and his race ultimately unravelled when he collided with Adrian Fernandez while trying to get past shortly after the halfway point.

Having clipped Fernandez, Alonso spun while trying to get back up to racing speed, went into the gravel and hit Helio Castroneves as he rejoined, with the incident putting him out of the race.

Out front, Button reeled in and passed Salo for second on the seventh lap of 11, diving down the inside of the Tarzan right-hander.

But Magnussen was nearly five seconds in the clear by then, and his lead only grew until the chequered flag.

Juan Pablo Montoya passed Salo a lap after Button to complete the podium, with Salo and Vitantonio Liuzzi making up a top-five made up of ex-F1 drivers.

Emanuele Pirro, who entered the round as joint championship leader with Button, drove a quiet race from the back of the grid, but picked up two places in one corner on the final lap to finish 10th.

The Race Legends Trophy 2020

Pirro then started the reverse-grid from pole and rapidly pulled clear, profiting from a multi-car battle for second to escape to the tune of five seconds over the first three laps.

The five-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner remained in full control of the race until the chequered flag, winning by over nine seconds from Andy Priaulx and Darren Turner.

Meanwhile, race one podium finishers Montoya, Button and Magnussen charged through the pack, with Button catching up Montoya as the Colombian came up on fourth-placed Petter Solberg.

Button took advantage of their battle to pass Solberg on the start-finish straight as they began the seventh lap, before Montoya running wide under braking at Tarzan immediately gave the 2009 F1 champion another spot.

But Montoya refused to surrender, nudging his way past Button next time by through the chicane, and getting the fourth place for good when Solberg tried to re-pass Button behind and made contact, spearing off into the gravel and impeding the Brit.

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With Montoya and Button completing the top five, Magnussen was on course to finish close behind them, but his championship hopes had suffered a big dent as he had a brief off while battling Solberg and then a much bigger, race-ruining off at Scheivlak as he tried to catch the Norwegian back up.

Button provisionally leads the championship by four points from Pirro heading into the final two rounds.

Alonso was running 17th after the start when he came upon a slowing Tiago Monteiro through the banked Arie Luyendyk corner. He clipped the rival Brabham BT44 with the left side of his car and was sent into the air and out of the race in a spectacular crash.

The round’s other newcomer, 1996 Monaco Grand Prix winner Olivier Panis, was 20th in both races.

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