Vitantonio Liuzzi was the pace setter in practice for the Superstars International Series’ visit to Donington Park, Mercedes providing the early markers to beat prior to qualifying.
Former Formula 1 driver Liuzzi was quickest in a red flag-strewn second practice session with a benchmark time of 1m34.361s, the two sessions seeing Mercedes being largely the dominant force as Liuzzi and team-mate Thomas Biagi shared the practice honours.
While Mercedes machines looked unstoppable, BTCC ace Colin Turkington impressed in his first two practice outings in a Superstars event, the 2009 British Touring Car champion immediately on the pace driving a BMW M3 for Scuderia Giudici.
The Romeo Ferraris Mercedes pairing of Biagi and Liuzzi had topped the opening practice session of the day, Biagi having nicked the top spot away from his fellow Italian team-mate in the dying seconds of the session to head the way by 0.4s, with Francesco Sini third in his Solaris Motorsport Chevrolet Camaro.
Second practice saw the Romeo Ferraris duo of Liuzzi and Biagi once again prove the men to beat at Donington in a much more disrupted session, Liuzzi leading the way on this occassion as red flags stymied the afternoon action somewhat.
The first break in proceedings arose from the Roma Racing Mercedes C63 Coupé of Luigi Ferrara grinding to a halt at the Melbourne hairpin, Ferrara’s day having started averagely after setting only the seventh fastest time in first practice.
Giovanni Berton was next to halt the second session when his Team Dinamic BMW M3 needed assistance back to the pits after stopping coming out of Coppice, Berton setting the fifth quickest time despite the issue.
Liuzzi himself was then next to stop the action, setting a time of 1:34.970 shortly before stopping at the hairpin. He was however able to return to the pits under his own steam, before returning to the track and lowering his benchmark further on the restart to end the session over half a second clear of Biagi.
After finishing fourth in first practice, Turkington improved his pace further to lie third after the second encounter and only 0.071s from Biagi’s time, the Ulsterman 0.597s slower than Liuzzi.
Cini and Berton rounded out the top five ahead of a somewhat off-the-pace Gianni Morbidelli, the Audi RS 5 driver lying 1.264s off of the ultimate lap of Liuzzi after his Portimao dominance.
Another former Formula One name was next up, Dominico Schiattarella finishing seventh in a Solaris Chevrolet Lumina ahead of Max Mugelli and the two Caal Racing Mercedes machines of Andrea Bacci and Roberto Papini rounding out the top ten as qualifying approaches at 17:05.
Just 15 cars are expected to race at Donington this weekend, not amongst them being the Petri Corse squad who have withdrawn from the meeting, meaning that the Porsche Panamera and double BTCC champion Fabrizio Giovanardi will not be appearing.