Bertolini Wins After Late Technical Problem Robs Herbert

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Alberto Bertolini claimed victory in the first International Superstars Series race at Spa-Francorchamps, which was filled with drama late-on. Johnny Herbert had led from the opening lap and looked set to win until an electrical problem slowed him on the penultimate lap.

Herbert made a flying start from the third row of the grid in his Romeo Ferraris Mercedes C63 AMG to move into second place at La Source, challenging polesitter Bertolini. Swiss Team Maserati Quattroporte driver Bertolini led the field through Eau Rouge for the first time, followed by Herbert, the Briton's teammate Max Pigoli and the CAAL Racing Mercedes of Luigi Ferrara.

Herbert didn't take long to get past Bertolini, passing the Italian later on the opening lap. Bertolini remained on his tail for the rest of the race, eventually forcing a mistake from him in the second half of the race. Herbert outbraked himself into the Bus Stop chicane, but cut the corner and retained the lead over the start/finish line. Bertolini tried to take advantage by diving down the inside at La Source, only to run wide himself and drop to third behind Ferrara.

Championship leader Ferrara soon took his turn to run wide, doing so at Pouhon and allowing Bertolini back through for second. Herbert looked like he would hold on up front to score his first victory with the Mercedes, but his car slowed out of the Bruxelles hairpin on the penultimate lap. Bertolini inherited the lead which he kept over the remaining lap and a half to score his fourth win of the year. Ferrara followed him over the finish line in second to strengthen his lead in the standings. Herbert managed to get going again, holding on to third place.

Herbert's cause was helped by Gianni Morbidelli coming to a halt and retiring on the final lap of the race. The former champion was making his first start of the year for Audi Sport Italia after his planned comeback at Misano ended in a double non-start. He looked set to finish in fourth place until his RS4 gave up on him on the last tour.

Herbert was poised for his first win until electrical problems struck. Photo: Superstars Series

Michela Cerruti came through to finish fourth, scoring her best result since her victory in the season opener at Monza. She powered her way past Romeo Ferraris teammate Max Pigoli in the second half of the race. Pigoli had run third on the opening lap but did not have the pace of those around him and fell backwards. He came home in fifth, holding off the advances of the BMW Italia duo of Thomas Biagi and Alberto Cerqui.

It had been a tough race for the factory-supported BMWs, Biagi, Cerqui and teammate Stefano Gabellini spending most of the race fighting each other in the lower end of the top ten. Gabellini would eventually retire, while Biagi fought his way back to sixth ahead of Cerqui after being spun around by the Jaguar of Francesco Sini earlier in the race.

Alessandro Garofano finished eighth in his Movisport BMW. He has replaced Alex De Giacomi in the no. 99 machine for this weekend, having made his debut with the RGA Sportsmanship team back in Misano. Riccardo Romagnoli finished ninth in the second of the Caal Racing Mercedes despite being knocked into a spin by Gabellini, which the latter received a drive-through penalty for. Luigi Cecchi finished tenth, ahead of Ferlito Motors teammate Sini who was another to serve a drive-through after his incident with Biagi.

The second Maserati of Alessandro Pier Guidi , which began on the front row at the rolling start, held fourth place until he came into the pits with a suspected electrical problem.

Race 1 results – 11 laps:

Pos Driver Team Car Time/Gap
1 Andrea Bertolini Swiss Team Maserati Quattroporte 27:58.107
2 Luigi Ferrara CAAL Racing Mercedes AMG C63 1.738
3 Johnny Herbert Romeo Ferraris Mercedes AMG C63 21.013
4 Michela Cerruti Romeo Ferraris Mercedes AMG C63 28.521
5 Max Pigoli Romeo Ferraris Mercedes AMG C63 29.298
6 Thomas Biagi Team BMW Italia BMW M3 E92 29.565
7 Alberto Cerqui Team BMW Italia BMW M3 E92 30.058
8 Alessandro Garofano Movisport BMW M3 E90 37.602
9 Riccardo Romagnoli CAAL Racing Mercedes AMG C63 49.703
10 Luigi Cecchi Ferlito Motors Jaguar XF/R5.0 51.466
11 Francesco Sini Ferlito Motors Jaguar XF/R5.0 1:06.150
12 Sandro Bettini Movisport BMW M3 E90 1:07.141
13 Andrea Dromedari Romeo Ferraris Mercedes AMG C63 1:28.516
14 Francesco Ascani Todi Corse BMW M3 E90 1:49.357
15 Gianni Morbidelli Audi Sport Italia Audi RS4 +1 Lap
16 Alessandro Pier Guidi Swiss Team Maserati Quattroporte +4 Laps
17 Stefano Gabellini Team BMW Italia BMW M3 E92 +5 Laps
18 Roberto Benedetti RC Motorsport Cadillac CTS V +5 Laps
Ret Gianpiero Pindari Movisport BMW 550i E60 3 laps
Ret Leonardo Baccarelli Todi Corse BMW 550i E60 3 laps
DNS Mauro Cesari MRT by Nocentini Chrysler 300 C SRT-8
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Peter joined the TCF team in September 2010 and covers GP2 and GP3 along with WTCC and Formula Two. You can find him on twitter at @PeteAllen_
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