Andrea Larini claimed his first win of the season at his home track after a long fight with Johnny Herbert, second over the finish line. Stefano Gabellini completed the podium for BMW, while championship leader Johan Kristoffersson finished the race in the slipstream of Gabellini in fourth.
A first corner accident influenced the outcome of the race, taking out immediately Thomas Biagi, Sandro Bettini, Camilo Zurcher, Gianni Morbidelli and Andrea Boffo.
The accident saw Bettini literally fly over Larini’s Mercedes. The Romeo Ferraris driver ended up hitting Biagi, who collected Zurcher, who was leading after a great start. Morbidelli and Boffo were also involved in the crash and had to retire.
As the Safety Car was deployed, Larini was in the lead ahead of Herbert, while Liuzzi found himself in third after having started from tenth on the grid, and was right ahead of team-mate Max Mugelli.
At the restart, with Larini still in the lead, Liuzzi attacked Herbert and went up to second, although the Italian lost back the position to the Maserati at Arrabbiata after a slide. Pigoli and Kristoffersson were also in a huge battle before the Italian surrendered to the Swede, who got in the slipstream of Gabellini. The pair later overtook Liuzzi and went up to third and fourth, leaving Liuzzi behind quite quickly.
The last lap fight between Herbert and Larini put the crowd on fire, with the Mercedes making it first to the flag notwithstanding a damaged exhaust from the first-lap accident.
Kristoffersson still leads the championship with 96 points, extending his lead to 23 points from Liuzzi, who jumps up to second by taking advantage of Biagi’s first-lap accident. Larini’s win puts the Romeo Ferraris driver in fourth, just two points shy of Biagi. Morbidelli is fifth, 32 points behind his team-mate.
The second race starts at 16.10 (CET).