Luigi Ferrara survived a nervy finish to the first of two Superstars International Series races at Donington Park, an oil slick on the circuit not denying the Italian his first win of 2013.
The Roma Racing Mercedes C63 AMG driver led a lights-to-flag performance from pole position, avoiding a potential disaster as cars were sent out of control with less than five minutes remaining by oil left on the road at the Melbourne Hairpin by the expired Lexus of Diego Romanini.
Ferrara had held off the attentions of fellow Mercedes driver Vitantonio Liuzzi on the rolling start, extending his lead out to 1.5s where the gap held station for much of the race. Thomas Biagi was the man on the move from fifth meanwhile, as he powered past the Audi Sport Italia RS 5 of Gianni Morbidelli heading out of Redgate for the first time.
Biagi then locked himself onto the back of the BMW M3 of Giovanni Berton ,who had begun to form a train of V8 machines behind him that included BTCC driver Colin Turkington, Biagi eventually making the move stick in aggressive fashion as he squeezed Berton out wide heading through the final Roberts hairpin, also allowing Morbidelli through.
The race was then neutralised after the halfway stage of the 25-minute encounter by a safety car to remove the stricken Chevrolet Camaro of Francesco Sini, the Italian driver having come together with the Mercedes of Andrea Bacci on the main straight leading to the Camaro heading backwards along the concrete wall.
On the restart, the trio of Mercedes C63s looked to edge away at the front, Liuzzi finding himself under pressure from the 10kg lighter machine of Romeo Ferraris team-mate Biagi.
However, with six minutes remaining it was Morbidelli’s Audi that came into its own as he drove by Biagi heading through Coppice, before hassling the second Mercedes of Liuzzi for the runner-up spot and what would have put Morbidelli on equal points for the championship lead with Biagi.
However, there was to be a late twist thrown into the situation as a trail of fluid left on the downhill Melbourne Hairpin by the blown Lexus ISF of Romanini caused havoc down the field, Ferrara skating through still leading while Morbidelli spun his Audi, Liuzzi having to take avoiding action also as Berton sneaked through into second spot ahead of Biagi.
With Ferrara clear, the Roma Racing man scampered off to win his first race of 2013, leaving a terrific tussle behind for the remaining places.
Berton hung onto second place for Team Dinamic, while Biagi held onto third despite coming to blows heading up towards McLeans with his own team-mate Liuzzi, the former F1 driver bouncing over the kerbs but somehow avoiding an accident between the Romeo Ferraris duo.
Morbidelli took advantage to move up to fourth with a great exit from Melbourne in the 4-wheel-drive RS 5 ahead of Liuzzi, the top nine finishers being rounded out by Max Mugelli, Bacci, Mauro Trentin and the lapped Gianni Giudici, Bacci’s team-mate Roberto Papini and the BMW of Francesco Ascani amongst those that retired with mechanical dramas.
Turkington’s race sadly ended early after he was spun out of fifth place on the restart by a BMW in the fight with Berton and Mugelli, his BMW M3 left beached in the gravel trap at McLeans.