In the end the Maserati Quattroporte Evo, fielded by the private Swiss Team, came through courtesy of Christian Klien. This was his first outing in the Maserati, and in this FG Group series, and he had done well to take fourth in Race 1. Mauro Cesari again missed out because of a bevel gear that broke during free practice.
Starting on fifth - the top eight positions are the reverse of the Race 1 finishing order - Klien got off to another flyer and was in third by turn 1. Once more he found himself on the outside line and had to take a trip off the track to avoid the jostling in the leading pack. Things were tight behind Klien with Michelisz, driving a team Giudici BMW M3 E92 spinning after being clipped by Fumi, in another BMW, this time fielded by team Giudici.
The ex-F1 star made it back onto the track in seventh, just before Zurcher's Mercedes C63 AMG, from Romeo Ferraris, seized top spot thanks to an aggressive move on Ferlito. Ferlito's Jaguar XF/R5.0 S/C, from team Ferlito, had started on pole but was now back in fifth. Larini, who had lined up in second in the other Romeo Ferraris Mercedes, now found himself behind Biagio, third in the BMW M3 E92 fielded by Dinamic.
Klien took fifth by outpacing Ferlito to move within striking distance of the top four formed by Zurcher, Liuzzi, in the Caal Racing Mercedes C63 AMG, Morbidelli's official Audi RS5 and Biagi. The Maserati driver was lapping quicker than the race leader and pulled up to 5" of them. When Morbidelli retired with technical problems on lap 5, Klien moved closer to his goal.
Up ahead of him, Liuzzi and Biagi were contesting second spot so Klien wisely steered clear of them. Liuzzi and Biagi came together on the very last lap when Liuzzi strayed wide and Biagi clipped him while trying to nip inside. Liuzzi spun and damaged the front left of his BMW and Klien made the most of his opportunity and took second ahead of the Dinamic driver.
However, things completely changed once the race was over. After celebrating on the podium, Zurcher was hit with a 25" penalty for his clash with Ferlito and was relegated to sixth while Biagi was slapped with an 8" penalty for an incident with Liuzzi, seeing him slide down the field. This all meant that the win was taken by Klien. He deserved victory for his intelligent drive, one in which he avoided getting into any trouble.
This was Swiss Team's first success of the season after taking the title last year with the Quattroporte Evo driven by Andrea Bertolini. The win also proved just how competitive the Maserati is under the guidance of Technical Director Giuseppe Angiulli and track engineer Emilio Battistini.
After pocketing the title last year, this season the Swiss outfit has other objectives: it has opted to increase its image and up the excitement levels in the already thrilling International Superstars Series. The strategy has been to rotate ex-F1 drivers in one of their two cars. So far, Mika Salo, Christian Fittipaldi and Johnny Herbert have appeared.
The ex-F1 driver was called up to appear as a guest for the Swiss squad in the FG Group series and Klien caught the eye straight away with his exceptional start.
Rocketing off from sixth, the Austrian was in second by turn one but, finding himself on the outside, he had to give up his chase of Vitantonio Liuzzi’s Caal Racing Mercedes C63 AMG. Benefiting was Biagi, in a BMW E92 fielded by Dinamic, and Michelisz, in a Giudici BMW. Still, Klien had earned two positions.
The Swiss Team driver maintained his spot just behind the lead three but he was being hassled by Morbidelli’s official Audi RS5. Klien’s resistance didn’t last long though and the four-wheel drive Audi got the better of him before going on to overtake Michelisz’s BMW.
The positions stayed like this until lap ten. The five lead cars were lapping within 3" to 5" of each other with Klien putting in consistent laps that ranged from 1'55"2 to 1'55"5. This was superb driving considering that the race’s fastest lap was posted by Kristoffersson’s Audi.
Morbidelli’s car pulled up lame on lap 11, shifting the Quattroporte Evo back in to fourth; the position it eventually crossed the line in. Klien finished 5"9 off the winner, Liuzzi. Biaggi came a very close second with Kristoffersson almost 5" adrift in third.
The result means that Klien lines up in fifth for Race 2 as the starting grid is based on the finishing order in Race 1, but with the top eight places reversed.
There was disappointment for Swiss Team’s other driver, Mauro Cesari, as his bevel gear couldn’t be fixed in time for him to compete. He will also have to miss out on Race 2.