Gianni Morbidelli came out on top in an entertaining second Superstars International Series encounter at Donington Park, the Audi Sport Italia driver battling his way past championship leader Thomas Biagi to draw the two Italians level on points.
The visit to Britain ended on a high for Morbidelli who charged up from the third row of the grid to second place, before fighting his way past Biagi with a great move at Redgate to claim a fifth win in six races.
With the top eight finishers from race one reversed to decide the race two grid, pole man Mauro Trentin was caught napping by the quick-starting Biagi and his own team-mate Max Mugelli in a tight run to turn one where Giovanni Berton‘s Dinamic BMW M3 was squeezed for room onto the grass.
Biagi came through Redgate as the leader ahead of Mugelli, but Morbidelli was already on the move as he moved up to third, becoming second place shortly afterwards with a better exit from McLeans for the first time around.
The lead pair then quickly made their escape, Morbidelli looking the faster man but his Audi RS 5 not able to make a huge impact on his Mercedes rival with an added 100kg of weight in it coming to Biagi’s rescue.
The gap stayed at under a second for much of the race until the Romeo Ferraris driver locked a brake going into the Melbourne Hairpin, sending him wide and allowing Morbidelli to chance to pounce. Biagi held on through the follow Roberts hairpin, but a demon late-braking lunge inside the Mercedes C63 AMG into Redgate with eight minutes to go gave Morbidelli the race lead.
The Italian never looked back as he cruised to an 8.544s victory, Biagi finishing second which means that the duo now tie for the points lead after the trip to Britain.
“Of course I am happy”, Morbidelli said afterwards. “I have to thank my mechanics because most of the job is with them for giving me an excellent car. I will give it my best for them to try and win the championship. Everything is open and he have to carry on doing what we are doing, but I am confident.
“It’s always a pleasure to come here, the people in this country have a great passion for motorsport.”
Biagi just held onto second place from a closing Mugelli, Berton finishing fourth ahead of the third BMW M3 of Trentin, who took advantage of a late problem for a charging Colin Turkington.
The Irishman gave the British fans something to cheer about after recovering from a knock with Dominico Schiattarella‘s Chevrolet Lumina exiting the first corner.
Turkington climbed up through the field, passing the Mercedes of Andrea Bacci under braking for the Melbourne Hairpin before catching and passing Trentin for fifth place where it looked like he would stay, only to be slowed by a right-rear suspension issue with two laps remaining that dropped him to sixth.
Seventh went the way of Roberto Papini, while Schiattarella finished eighth after a penalty, the top 10 rounded out by Francesco Ascani and Gianni Giudici.
Elsewhere, Vitantonio Liuzzi did not even start the race as he was forced into retirement exiting the warm-up lap, while race one winner Luigi Ferrara fared little better as an overheating problem meant he was forced to surrender a top five position.