Tech 1 Racing's Kevin Korjus won his second Formula Renault 3.5 race of the season in a manic encounter at Monza.
After an aggressive start in which he passed front-row man Robert Wickens around the outside of the first chicane, Korjus took advantage of a small mistake from pole-sitter Cesar Ramos to take the lead on lap five.
Pressure from Carlin's Robert Wickens led to Korjus out-braking himself and taking to the escape road at Turn 1 on lap 18.
Wickens would cut the Roggia chicane later on the lap, but the matter of whether the Canadian had gained an unfair advantage in the manoeuvre became academic when the Marussia-backed car retired with technical problems on the next tour.
"The race was really hard," said Korjus. "In the middle of the race Wickens was closing and I made a big mistake. On the same lap he retired with engine problems, or something, but my tyres were so flat-spotted afterwards that I had trouble seeing anything. I had to use the circuit marker boards to know when to brake."
Wickens' team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne charged from 11th on the grid to finish second, 1.6s adrift of Korjus.
Vergne's result rewards his Carlin mechanics commendable efforts of readying his car for the race, following problems in this morning's qualifying session. The Frenchman has taken the lead in the drivers' standings on 75 points, four ahead of Wickens.
"I thought I wasn't supposed to race today," said Vergne. "The guys did a great job to get the car fixed from qualifying and send me out before the pitlane closed. I had a bit of a dash to get to the grid. The race was really crazy so I had to calm myself down. I got into P3 and then Robert had his problems. I had pushed so hard in the beginning, though, that I didn't have anything left to challenge for the lead."
Fifth starter Daniil Move [P1 Motorsport] put in a mature drive in a drama-filled race to claim the final place on the podium. The Russian overtook Draco's Stephane Richelmi away from the line, and gained another position when Wickens knocked Ramos into a spin at Turn 1.
Chris van der Drift backed up his podium from Spa with a relatively lonely run to fourth for Mofaz Racing. Fellow Kiwi Brendon Hartley was fifth. Hartley's Gravity-Charouz squad was the only team not to attend Monza's pre-season tests.
Remarkably, ISR's Daniel Ricciardo finished just one second adrift of Hartley following an audacious drive from the back of the grid. Ricciardo is one of six drivers under investigation for a possible yellow flag infringement at Turn 1.
Pole-man Ramos locked-up dramatically on the opening lap at the Roggia chicane and subsequently struggled for race pace. After being repeatedly forced to take a defensive inside line on the run to Turn 1 in an attempt to hold off Wickens, the Fortec driver was nudged into a spin while negotiating the first chicane.
Ramos lost further ground by cutting across the grass at the Ascari chicane.
Results - 28 laps
Pos Driver Team Time/Gap
01. Kevin Korjus Tech 1 46m33.880s
02. Jean-Eric Vergne Carlin + 1.611s
03. Daniil Move P1 + 3.908s
04. Chris van der Drift Mofaz + 12.962s
05. Brendon Hartley Gravity-Charouz + 16.178s
06. Daniel Ricciardo ISR + 17.126s
07. Stephane Richelmi Draco + 24.226s
08. Walter Grubmuller P1 + 25.929s
09. Oliver Webb Pons + 37.448s
10. Andre Negrao Draco + 38.496s
11. Jake Rosenzweig Mofaz + 40.855s
12. Jan Charouz Gravity-Charouz + 41.167s
13. Daniel McKenzie Comtec + 41.225s
14. Daniel de Jong Comtec + 41.281s
15. Filip Salaquarda Pons + 42.033s
16. Sten Pentus EPIC + 42.897s
17. Alexander Rossi Fortec + 50.743s
18. Albert Costa EPIC + 1m05.000s
19. Anton Nebylistkiy KMP + 1m07.730s
Cesar Ramos Fortec 24 laps
Daniel Zampieri BVM Target 19 laps
Robert Wickens Carlin 18 laps
Nathanael Berthon ISR 8 laps
Arthur Pic Tech 1 7 laps
Sergio Canamasas BVM Target 3 laps