Morbidelli dominates opening Superstars race at Donington Park
|By Andrew van Leeuwen||Sunday, May 20th 2012, 10:12 GMT|
Gianni Morbidelli dominated the first International Superstars Series race at Donington Park.
Having been fastest in every session so far across the weekend, the Audi Sport Italia driver took an emphatic lights-to-flag win in the 25-minute first race. After pulling a massive 3.79-second gap on the first lap, Morbidelli was able to cruise to his first race win of 2012.
Johan Kristoffersson made it an Audi 1-2, but he did so the hard way. The rookie of the year contender was forced to start from the back of the grid after missing qualifying due to his Swedish Touring Car Championship commitments.
Thanks to the speed advantage of the four-wheel-drive Audi, Kristoffersson was easily able to surge his way through the field, slotting into second place with 10 minutes of the race left to run.
Behind the Audis there was a frenetic battle for third place. Having lost several positions at the start, Johnny Herbert (Team Swiss Maserati) soon found himself embroiled in a battle with Max Pigoli (Ferlito Motors Jaguar), Thomas Biagi (Team Dinamic BMW) and Tonio Liuzzi (CAAL Racing Mercedes).
With just two minutes to go Pigoli made a crucial mistake, running wide at Hollywood and gifting the final podium spot to Herbert. Biagi and Liuzzi finished fourth and fifth respectively, while Pigoli was forced to settle for ninth.
Thomas Schoffler finished sixth in the third Audi, but it could have been a very different story. Having qualified second, the German stalled at the start of the formation lap. He eventually started the race, albeit from pit-lane and a long way behind the field.
Stefano Gabellini was seventh in the second BMW, ahead of Andrea Larini, who locked in a pole position start for race two by finishing eighth. Pigoli and Francesco Sini rounded out the top 10.
Meanwhile, it was a day to forget for British Touring Car Championship regular Tom Onslow-Cole. The Superstars debutant started third, but finished 18th and last after suffering a suspension failure on his Ferlito Motors Jaguar while battling for third with Herbert, Pigoli, Biagi and Liuzzi.
Results - 17 laps:
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Gianni Morbidelli Audi Italia 27m18.823s 2. Johan Kristoffersson Audi Italia + 6.971s 3. Johnny Herbert Swiss Maserati + 8.976s 4. Thomas Biagi Dinamic BMW + 9.977s 5. Tonio Liuzzi CAAL Mercedes + 13.980s 6. Thomas Schoffler MTM Audi + 14.195s 7. Stefano Gabellini Dinamic BMW + 18.012s 8. Andrea Larini Romeo Mercedes + 18.759s 9. Max Pigoli Ferlito Jaguar + 19.618s 10. Francesco Sini Solaris Chevrolet + 20.886s 11. Max Mugelli CAAL Mercedes + 21.783s 12. Paolo Meloni W&D BMW + 35.574s 13. Mauro Cesari Swiss Maserati + 39.470s 14. Sandro Bettini Dinamic BMW + 48.455s 15. Nico Caldarola Roma Mercedes + 50.612s 16. Walter Meloni W&D BMW + 1m24.504s 17. Andrea Boffo Roma Mercedes + 2 laps 18. Tom Onslow-Cole Ferlito Jaguar + 3 laps