Max Pigoli successfully converted pole position into victory in the International Superstars Series curtain-raiser at Monza, but it was debutant Vitantonio Liuzzi who lived up to his billing by putting in the star performance to finish third after starting at the back of the grid.
Pigoli repeated his feat from the opening race of the season at the same circuit 12 months ago by winning from pole, this time aboard his Ferlito Motors Jaguar XF-R.
He was pursued for the entire race by Andrea Larini, who started his maiden Superstars race from the front row having replaced Pigoli at the Romeo Ferraris Mercedes team. Pigoli defended several attacks from Larini, the younger brother of Nicola, holding on to cross the line four tenths ahead.
Having started from the penultimate row of the grid after a puncture in qualifying, ex Formula 1 driver Liuzzi had fought his way into the top ten by the end of the second lap. The safety car came out after Riccardo Bossi crashed at the second Lesmo on lap four, at which point Liuzzi was up to seventh.
Liuzzi made another place at the restart when teammate Max Mugelli spun at the first chicane out of fifth place. He also got past the Audi RS5 of Johan Kristofferson, who had made up a number of places himself after starting 14th. He then took third place on the following lap, getting by the Maserati of Mika Salo and the BMW of Thomas Biagi.
Biagi finished fourth, with Salo slipping to sixth behind his fellow Nordic series debutant Kristofferson. Gianni Morbidelli started at the back with Liuzzi, and also came through the field to start seventh and give Audi a double top-ten finish for their new RS5 model. Nico Caldarola finished eighth ahead of Mugelli and a penalised Paolo Meloni.