Marco Wittmann kept his slim F3 Euro Series title hopes alive with a dominant victory in the second of three races at Valencia.
The German made a rocket start in his Signature Dallara-Volkswagen from third on the reversed grid and swept around the outside of front-row starters Kimiya Sato and Gianmarco Raimondo at the first corner to take a lead he would not lose.
Such was Wittmann's advantage that he was able to back off with a few laps to go and still win by over six seconds. His fifth win of the year narrowed the still huge gap to Roberto Merhi in the championship to 67 points, with 85 still up for grabs.
Sato finished second to give Motopark its first podium finish since Spielberg in June, with Daniel Juncadella finishing right behind him in third.
Juncadella struggled to find rear grip during the early stages of the race and quickly came under pressure from his Prema team-mate Merhi. Three times the championship leader tried to pass Juncadella, the pair locking wheels exiting Turn 7 on lap four and the contact putting Merhi into the gravel.
He resumed in sixth, behind his team-mate Raimondo and Mucke's Felix Rosenqvist, and set about challenging the Swede in what was to become the most exciting battle of the weekend so far.
After attempting to pass Raimondo around the outside at the Doohan Curve, Rosenqvist came under attack from Merhi and ran side-by-side with the Spaniard, eventually resisting him three corner later.
Two laps further on and fifth place was Merhi's. Rosenqvist ran wide at the Herreros Esses, allowing his rival past into the final corner. Despite taking the place back two turns later, he finally gave way midway round the next lap. Merhi will be crowned champion on Sunday if he finishes fifth or better.
Behind Raimondo, Merhi and Rosenqvist were Signature's Carlos Munoz and Nigel Melker, the second Mucke driver completing the points scorers.
Results - 14 laps: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Marco Wittmann Signature Dallara-VW 21m10.404s 2. Kimiya Sato Motopark Dallara-VW + 6.176s 3. Daniel Juncadella Prema Dallara-Merc + 7.246s 4. Gianmarco Raimondo Prema Dallara-Merc + 8.021s 5. Roberto Merhi Prema Dallara-Merc + 8.432s 6. Felix Rosenqvist Mucke Dallara-Merc + 9.647s 7. Carlos Munoz Signature Dallara-VW + 13.137s 8. Nigel Melker Mucke Dallara-Merc + 13.670s 9. Jimmy Eriksson Motopark allara-VW + 16.361s 10. Daniel Abt Signature Dallara-VW + 17.194s 11. Laurens Vanthoor Signature Dallara-VW + 3 laps