Back down the field, Ghanem and Sbirrazzuoli, who had both been relegated to the back for substituting a tyre damaged in qualifying, were putting on a real show.
By turn one they were in around tenth and by the time the first lap had come to a end, Ghanem was in sixth and Sbirrazzuoli seventh. At this stage, Baldi was leading from Ardagna, Piancastelli, Bakker and Durante. The Swiss driver, flying the flag for Swiss Team, was soon caught and overtaken by the speedy duo as they chased a podium finish. Baldi tried to pull away on lap four when he had a 1”8 lead over Piancastelli, 2”2 over Ardagna, 5”7 over Bakker, 6”6 over Ghanem, 7”2 over Sbirrazzuoli and 10”8 over Durante. Behind the lead group things were more bitty with Riverall, Hernandez, Kroes, Segler and Waszczinski (Konvex Motorsport) spread along the track.
With Carlo Romani forced to retire and Anita Toth skilfully pushing the car to the limit, Baldi was dealing with his pursuers and even putting a tenth a lap between him and them. On lap five, his time of 1’45”819 was to be the fastest lap in the race. The even fight between the leading three drivers was the factor that kept everyone glued to the action. It was as if they were linked by an invisible piece of elastic. However, the distance between them meant that there were no close duels to enjoy. This is not to say that things weren’t exciting as Ghanem and Sbirrazzuoli were still going for it with the Lebanese driver eventually managing to pull away from the Swiss man and close the gap right down on Bakker. The struggle between Ghanem and Bakker sparked into life on lap 17 with Ghanem hounding the Dutchman.
Bakker was not in a generous mood, though, and closed out every gap cleanly, leaving Ghanem no way through. With his tyres feeling the effects of his comeback, Ghanem eased off, content with fifth. On lap twenty, Baldi crossed the line 4”8 up on Piancastelli, 8”5 on Ardagna, 14”0 on Bakker and 14”9 on Ghanem. Next came Sbirrazzuoli and Durante. Things didn’t change from this point until the chequered flag and it was Baldi who popped the champagne with his hold on the championship strengthened.
Lap 1 was clocked up without major incident with Piancastelli leading from Baldi, Ardagna, Bakker, Kroes, Grassi, Riveroll, Segler, Chionna and Waszczinski. The only episode of note was Bela Csiszer’s retirement after he got his car trapped in the sand at turn 8. It was in precisely this section of track that Ardagna overtook Baldi to move into second and set off after leader Piancastelli.
However, the move came when the yellow flag was out meaning that the Venezuelan was slapped with a drive through two laps later. Piancastelli was stepping on the gas and posted the fastest lap on lap 3, something Ardagna matched (1’45”349) on lap 5, shortly before he pulled in for the drive through. Adrien De Leener had a tough race: he spun twice on the same lap when in twelfth spot and then pulled out.
In the Team series, Grassi (Swiss Team), fifth overall, was leading from Chionna, ninth, and Waszczinski. Ardagna rolled into the pits for his drive-through on lap 7 and came back out in sixth, 25” off the lead. Behind the Venezuelan was a private battle going on between Riveroll, Segler, Chionna and Kroes with the Lebanese driver Hanna a little further back. Dutchman Kroes was passed by Chionna on lap 10 and then spectacularly crashed off at turn 8. Luckily, Kroes didn’t come off hurt after careering into the barriers.
Another turning point came on lap 15 when race officials hit David Baldi with a drive through for overtaking a lapped driver when the yellow flag was out. Suddenly, Ardagna was back in the running and stepped up his hunt for Piancastelli. Sitting in sixth, the Venezuelan started to harry Hernandez who, up until then, had run a superb race. At the end of lap 16, Piancastelli was holding a 10”6 lead over Bakker, 11”04 over Grassi, headed Baldi by 24”5, Hernandez by 24”8 and Ardagna by 25”4. Riveroll, Segler and Chionna were going at it behind the South American. This went on until Chionna spun when trying to sneak past Segler, losing contact with the other two. Laps 16 and 17 saw the smile come back to Ardagna’s face as, once free of Hernandez, he edged past Baldi to take fourth overall. This put him third in the Trofeo as Grassi, in third overall, continued to lead the Team series.
Meanwhile, attention was still being paid to Segler and Riveroll. Segler’s tactic of pulling alongside the Venezuelan worked as Riveroll mistimed his braking at turn 8 and was forced to ease off. The duel, as you might expect, did not end there: the scene moved on to turn 1 where both drivers spun. This time it was Hernandez who profited to move into sixth as Segler had to abandon his car, and his race, somewhere off the track. From here to the chequered flag it was a canter for Piancastelli. He took his first win of the season to keep his 2011 title hopes alive. He won by 7”180 over Mathjis Bakker, 9”278 over Matteo Grassi (Swiss Team), who won the Team category, and 16”069 over Gaetano Ardgana. Next came David Baldi, Jaime Hernandez, Alessandro Chionna (AF Corse) and Justino Riveroll.
Filling the remaining top ten spots were, a lap down, Lebanese driver Tani Hanna and Belgian Daniel Waszczinski (Konvex Motorsport). Behind them finished Pierre Marie de Leener, Anita Toth and Carlo Romani. The race’s fastest lap (1’45”349) was set by Gaetano Ardagna on lap 5. Overall, David Baldi still leads and is on 108 points. In second is Gaetano Ardagna, on 96, with Nicolò Piancastelli’s win putting him on 89.