Imola Auto GP: Kimiya Sato dominates race one
Kimiya Sato cruised to a conclusive victory in the ninth round of the Auto GP series at Imola
It was Sato's fourth race win of the 2014 season and stretched his points lead to 33 over Markus Pommer.
The Japanese driver, who sat out the last rounds at Monza earlier this month, dominated proceedings once title rival Pommer had retired from the lead on the first lap.
The unfortunate German lost all power to his Super Nova run Lola-Zytek and was forced to pull off the track at Acque Minerale.
Sato needed no invitation to maximise his inherited lead and soon pulled a gap on second placed Kevin Giovesi, with the race was effectively won by half distance. Sato had the luxury of a leisurely pitstop and took the chequered flag 7.9 seconds ahead of Giovesi.
Second place for Giovesi promotes the Italian right on to the tail of Tamas Pal Kiss for third position in the title standings with the Hungarian suffering another tough race. A slow pitstop lost him at least half a minute and meant a final position of ninth and just two points, leaving him slipping away from any potential title quest.
Andrea Roda scored his third podium position of the campaign in his Virtuosi UK run Lola-Zytek. The Italian was forced to defend stoutly on the final lap when a charging Pal Varhaug almost caught him on the finishing line.
Varhaug's Virtuosi UK Lola had despatched Michela Cerruti's Super Nova run car for fourth place before homing in on Roda. The Jenzer Motorsport GP3 regular should have easily clinched third position but a first lap excursion at Piratella put paid to any chance of achieving that, despite an impressive comeback drive by the Norwegian.
Cerruti scored more points for fifth place to continue her run of points finishes in every 2014 race so far.
The erratic Francesco Dracone rounded out the top six after several off track excursions during the race, with Christof von Grunigen right on his tail at flagfall.
On pole for the second reverse grid race in a row is Giuseppe Cipriani in the Ibiza Racing Lola-Zytek. The Venetian is however under investigation for cutting the Variante Alta chicane late in the race, which could hand Sunday's pole to Kiss.
Pommer apart, the only other retirement was Michele La Rosa who beached his MLR71 by Euronova Lola in the Rivazza gravel on lap 12.
Results - 20 laps: Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Kimiya Sato Euronova 32m01.697s 2. Kevin Giovesi FMS +7.938s 3. Andrea Roda Virtuosi UK +15.118s 4. Pal Varhaug Virtuosi UK +16.023s 5. Michela Cerruti Super Nova +20.176s 6. Francesco Dracone Super Nova +27.179s 7. Christof von Grunigen Zele +27.600s 8. Giuseppe Cipriani Ibiza +53.686s 9. Tamas Pal Kiss Zele +55.202s 10. Vittorio Ghirelli FMS +1m06.216s 11. Salvatore De Plano Euronova -1 lap Retirements: Michele La Rosa MLR 71/Euronova 12 laps Markus Pommer Super Nova 0 laps
Imola Auto GP: Markus Pommer beats Kimiya Sato to pole
Imola Auto GP: Michela Cerruti holds off Kevin Giovesi for win