Davide Rigon dominated the opening Superleague Formula race of the day at Adria for Anderlecht, after a slow pitstop almost handed victory to Beijing Guoan's John Martin.
Rigon's fourth victory of the season – which now puts him level with Chris van der Drift for the most wins in 2010 – has propeled Anderlecht right into the championship mix, with the Belgian club now lying just two points behind leader AC Milan and four ahead of Tottenham after Craig Dolby tangled with title rival Yelmer Buurman.
Rigon launched himself out of the final turn at the rolling start and immediately opened up a 1.3-second gap to Martin, who for the second race running had been caught out by the fast-starting polesitter alongside him. Martin was unable to close the gap to the leader during the early stages, but Beijing Guoan pulled off a superb pit stop that allowed the Australian to jump the Anderlecht car when both leaders pitted early on.
Martin's lead was short-lived, however, as Rigon used his superior track knowledge to dive down the inside of Turn 2 to take the lead he would hold to the checkered flag.
"[Beijing] were unbelievably fast," said the winner. "They were so quick in the pit stop, but I'm happy because with new tires I was the fastest on the track and I could brake later than him, he didn't stop and I overtook him. Fantastic race."
Despite a strong race that netted the ADR-run outfit another podium, second-placed Martin was still disappointed not to have taken victory.
"Yes, it's a good effort," he shrugged. "Not coming here before, to end up with a top five result would be a really, really great result for us. But to come here and nearly have pole yesterday and then finish second in the race, it's a little bit disappointing."
Alongside the two top men was Olympiacos's Ben Hanley, who nearly stole second place at the first corner when Beijing ran wide at the start, and was delighted to achieve his goal of a podium on his Superleague debut.
Fellow Briton Dolby had a tougher race in the Tottenham Hotspur entry. After passing four cars at the start – including title rival Buurman – Dolby then immediately ran wide at the next corner, allowing eventual fourth-placed Max Wissel (FC Basel) and Alvaro Parente (FC Porto) back through. His woes continued after his pit stop when a coming together with Buurman at the first corner left him with a right-rear puncture. He finished 13th, two places behind Buurman who also pitted to replace his front wing.
After a furious race-long battle with ninth-placed Tristan Gommenday (Galatasaray), newcomer Frederic Vervisch (Liverpool) came home seventh behind Julien Jousse (AS Roma) and Parente, with Duncan Tappy (Flamengo) rounding out the top 10.
Celso Miguez (Olympique Lyonnais) will start only his second Superleague race from the reversed grid pole position, after brake wear problems brought his race to a halt just five laps from the end.
Pos Driver Team Time/Gap
1. Davide Rigon RSC Anderlecht 45m31.975s
2. John Martin Beijing Guoan + 3.675s
3. Ben Hanley Olympiacos + 4.506s
4. Max Wissel FC Basel + 5.804s
5. Julien Jousse AS Roma + 20.828s
6. Alvaro Parente FC Porto + 21.769s
7. Frederic Vervisch Liverpool FC + 31.809s
8. Robert Doornbos Corinthians + 36.555s
9. Tristan Gommendy Galatasaray + 36.623s
10. Duncan Tappy Flamengo + 49.399s
11. Yelmer Buurman AC Milan + 55.204s
12. Hywel Lloyd PSV Eindhoven + 1m03.400s
13. Craig Dolby Tottenham Hotspur + 1 lap
14. Marcos Martinez Sevilla FC + 2 laps
Celso Miguez Olympique Lyonnais 34 laps