Andrea Larini resists Johnny Herbert's charge in epic Mugello Superstars race
|By Andrew van Leeuwen||Sunday, June 3rd 2012, 10:06 GMT|
Andrea Larini survived a first-corner pile-up and a fierce charge from Johnny Herbert to win a classic first Superstars race at Mugello.
The crash started on the fast run down to San Donato, with Sandro Bettini side-swiping Larini. Bettini then bounced straight into his Dinamic BMW team-mate Thomas Biagi, who in turn took out debutant Camilo Zurcher (Romeo Ferraris Mercedes). The stranded cars then claimed Gianni Morbidelli (Audi Sport Italia) and Andrea Boffo (Ferlito Motors Jaguar), with all drivers retiring from the race on the spot.
Larini, however, escaped the carnage mostly unscathed. While his Romeo Ferraris Mercedes spent the remainder of the race dragging its exhaust system around in a shower of sparks, the car held together until the end.
But it was not just a slightly broken car that Larini had to fight. Herbert (Swiss Team Maserati) quickly recovered from a slow restart and found himself on Larini's tail with just a few laps remaining.
What followed was an epic battle for the win, which even included a very brief exchange of the lead on the final lap. Despite Herbert's best efforts, Larini was able to just hang on.
The battle for third place was spectacular as well. Tonio Liuzzi's CAAL Mercedes, Dinamic's Stefano Gabellini and Johan Kristoffersson's Audi spent the last 10 minutes of the race embroiled in door-to-door combat. While Liuzzi managed to hold on to third place for the majority of the race, he was swallowed by both Gabellini and Kristoffersson on the penultimate lap.
As a result, Gabellini was able to grab the final spot on the podium, while Kristoffersson took home a good points haul to solidify his spot on top of both the outright and rookie of the year points standings.
After a disappointing qualifying session Max Pigoli (Ferlito Motors Jaguar) found himself sixth thanks to the first-corner incident, while Francesco Sini (Solaris Chevrolet), Ananda Mikola (Roma Racing Mercedes), Paolo Meloni (W&D Racing BMW) and Mauro Cesari (Swiss Team Maserati) rounded out the top 10.
Max Mugelli (CAAL Racing Mercedes) was on for a top-10 spot, but wound up being a late retirement after he was punted off the track by Mikola on the penultimate lap of the race.
Results - 11 laps: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Andrea Larini Romeo Mercedes 28m40.453s 2. Johnny Herbert Swiss Maserati + 0.421s 3. Stefano Gabellini Dinamic BMW + 7.138s 4. Johan Kristoffersson KMS Audi + 7.932s 5. Tonio Liuzzi CAAL Mercedes + 12.268s 6. Max Pigoli Ferlito Jaguar + 14.227s 7. Francesco Sini Solaris Chevrolet + 14.588s 8. Ananda Mikola Roma Mercedes + 15.893s 9. Paolo Meloni W&D BMW + 16.484s 10. Mauro Cesari Swiss Maserati + 16.927s 11. Thomas Schoffler MTM Audi + 17.651s 12. Francesco Ascani Todi BMW + 26.750s 13. Walter Meloni W&D BMW + 28.469s 14. Nico Caldarola Roma Mercedes + 42.660s 15. Marco Fumagalli Giudici BMW + 49.996s Retirements: Max Mugelli CAAL Mercedes 9 laps Gianni Giudici Giudici BMW 5 laps Leonardo Baccarelli Todi BMW 1 lap Gianni Morbidelli Audi Italia 0 laps Sandro Bettini Dinamic BMW 0 laps Camilo Zurcher Romeo Mercedes 0 laps Thomas Biagi Dinamic BMW 0 laps Andrea Boffo Ferlito Jaguar 0 laps