Preview: New Superstars Season Kicks Off In Monza

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Superstars Monza - Photo Credit: Superstars Series

Andrea Bertolini's crown is up for grabs, beginning at Monza - Photo Credit: Superstars Series

The International Superstars Series season begins at Monza this weekend, ahead of a nine-round jaunt across seven countries, concluding in Indonesia in November.

Last year's championship came down to a thrilling battle between Maserati driver Andrea Bertolini, BMW's Alberto Cerqui and Mercedes driver Luigi Ferrara. Bertolini won through to claim the title at his first attempt, although he won't be returning to defend his crown having switched to Ferrari's GT endurance programme for this year.

Neither Cerqui nor Ferrara return either. Cerqui has switched to the World Touring Car Championship, while Ferrara's seat at CAAL Racing has been taken by none other than recently-dismissed Formula 1 driver Vitantonio Liuzzi.

Liuzzi hasn't joined Superstars to mess around – he's aiming for victory this weekend. His programme is supported by Merecedes-Benz Italy and the AMG brand. CAAL are fielding a second car for experienced GT racer Max Mugelli.

At the Swiss Team Maserati outfit, their lead car will be shared during the season between two more ex-F1 drivers in the shape of Mika Salo and Christian Fittipaldi, with the Finn making his series debut this weekend for a brand he previously raced for in GTs. The second of the Quattroportes will be piloted by Mauro Cesari, who raced a Chrysler, a BMW and a Jaguar last season.

The BMW baton is taken up by new outfit BMW Team Dinamic, who will enjoy support from previous team ROAL Motorsport and also retain 2010 champion Thomas Biagi and Stefano Gabellini. Sandro Bettini drives the team's third car.

Another big name driver is Gianni Morbidelli, who won three straight Superstars titles between 2007 and 2009. He returned late last year with Audi Sport Italia, who will be debuting their new RS5 model. Two more RS5s will be pedalled by Sweden's Johan Kristofferson and Germany's Thomas Schoffler for the KMS and MTM teams respectively.

The Romeo Ferraris team have been regular frontrunners in recent years with their Mercedes, but enter just one C63 AMG at Monza for Andrea Larini, the younger brother of former F1 and touring car driver Nicola Larini and a former WTCC racer himself making his Superstars debut.

Another team running Mercedes are the Roma Racing Team, fielding Nico Caldarola and 17-year-old Andrea Boffo, last year's Italian Formula Renault Challenge winner.

Former Romeo Ferraris driver Max Pigoli makes the jump to a Jaguar XF run by the Ferlito Motors team. He previously won the Superstars title in a Jaguar back in 2006. His teammate is Gian Maria Gabbiani, who made his debut for the team at the Motor Show exhibition event in Bologna last December.

Francesco Sini raced a Jaguar last year, but he will now drive a Chevrolet Lumina entered by new Swiss team Solaris Motorsport. Lexus are also set to be represented, with the Nocentini team running Simone Monforte.

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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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