Tonio Liuzzi stormed to a lights-to-flag victory in the first International Superstars Series round at the Hungaroring in Budapest.
The CAAL Racing Mercedes driver made a perfect start from pole position, leading Thomas Biagi (Dinamic BMW) into the first turn. While Liuzzi could not shake Biagi throughout the race, he was able to respond every time Biagi made a play for the lead, eventually taking a measured 0.539-second win to keep his title hopes alive.
Biagi had a strong start to thank for his second position, the Imola-born driver vaulting from his fifth grid spot to second place in the first several hundred metres of the race. That left local hero and series debutant Norbert Michelisz (Scuderia Guidici BMW) scrapping for third place with Gianni Morbidelli, the Hungarian ultimately taking the final podium spot when Morbidelli's Audi Sport Italia RS5 retired with an electrical problem with just three minutes left in the race.
Morbidelli's retirement was also good news for another debutant, ex-Formula 1 driver Christian Klien. The Swiss Team Maserati driver was able to shadow the lead group for the entire race, inheriting fourth after Morbidelli dropped out.
Points leader Johan Kristoffersson was the best of the rest, finishing a distant fifth in the KMS Audi. Early in the race the Swede found himself locked in an intense battle with Romeo Ferraris Mercedes pair Camilo Zurcher and Andrea Larini, as well as his own Audi team-mate Thomas Schoffler. Kristoffersson and Zurcher eventually broke free of the group, with the former securing fifth when Zurcher spun late in the race.
The Colombian did manage to get going again to finish sixth, ahead of Larini and a very consistent Domenico Ferlito (Ferlito Jaguar), who came all the way from 15th on the grid to finish eighth, ahead of Franco Fumi (Dinamic BMW) and Schoffler, who faded late in the race.
While it was a good day out for Ferlito, the same could not be said for his team-mate Max Pigoli. The Superstars veteran made a rookie mistake on the fourth lap of the race, locking a brake into Turn 1 and collecting the Dinamic BMW of Stefano Gabellini. Both drivers were immediately out of the race, while Francesco Sini soon joined them, his Solaris Chevrolet succumbing to an oil leak and stopping on the main straight.
Results - 14 laps: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Tonio Liuzzi CAAL Mercedes 27m05.669s 2. Thomas Biagi Dinamic BMW + 0.539s 3. Norbert Michelisz Giudici BMW + 3.544s 4. Christian Klien Swiss Maserati + 5.935s 5. Johan Kristoffersson KMS Audi + 10.664s 6. Camilo Zurcher Romeo Mercedes + 24.533s 7. Andrea Larini Romeo Mercedes + 48.891s 8. Domenico Ferlito Ferlito Jaguar + 49.144s 9. Franco Fumi Dinamic BMW + 49.173s 10. Thomas Schoffler MTM Audi + 57.591s 11. Gianni Giudici Giudici BMW + 1m14.776s 12. Walter Meloni W&D BMW + 1m52.213s Retirements: Gianni Morbidelli Audi Italia 11 laps Francesco Sini Solaris Chevrolet 10 laps Paolo Meloni W&D BMW 8 laps Stefano Gabellini Dinamic BMW 3 laps Max Pigoli Ferlito Jaguar 3 laps Max Mugelli CAAL Mercedes 0 laps Mauro Cesari Swiss Maserati 0 laps