Mirko Bortolotti put his own seal on the revamped Italian F3 season by taking victory in the second race at Vallelunga, dominating from start to finish to underline his new status as champion.
The Lucidi Motors driver headed a 1-2 for the team ahead of Francesco Castellacci, who confirmed fourth place in the final standings behind the best of the rookie, Salvatore Cicatelli, who finished seventh in the finale, and Edoardo Piscopo, who crossed the line in fourth place, but already had more than enough in hand to seal second overall, albeit some 23 points shy of Bortolotti.
Bortolotti dominated the whole weekend, claiming two pole positions, two victories and fastest lap in both races. Victory in race one had already put the title beyond reach of his rivals, and a 15th podium - and ninth victory - in 16 races simply made sure of the fact.
"I started the season with the first racing weekend, having skipped all the winter tests," Bortolotti reflected, "The initial races were a bit steep, but I have always been confident in my ability. Together with the team, I worked on the development of the car and we managed to recover the initial gap that we had lost to Piscopo, a rival with more experience than me whom I always held in great respect.
"I trained carefully to get to the Vallelunga weekend at 100 per cent, and I did not have any doubts that, should myself and the team fully express our potential, we would win the title."
Cicatelli's BVM-Target team-mate Daniel Mancinelli completed the final race podium, but technical problems blighted Europa Corse's race, with Euroseries refugee Tom Dillmann and Francesco Prandi forced to the retirement, while Giovanni Nava and Marco Zipoli confirmed fifth and sixth places in the championship courtesy of similar placings in the race.
"We are satisfied at achieving the objective we set at the beginning of the season, namely third place overall for Cicatelli," BVM-Target team manager Roberto Venieri commented, "Our impressions after the first season of the renewed Italian F3 series are certainly positive - the championship is in good health and I believe that it will grow further next year."
Fourth final position in the classification for Francesco Castellacci, second under the chequered flag of race two and particularly in good shape, while the debutant Giovanni Nava concluded his season with a promising fifth place.
"2008 has been a year full of innovation for Italian F3 due to the employment of brand new cars and engines," concluded Gabriele Lucidi, "We worked hard on their development at the beginning of the season, exploiting the technical know-how that allowed us to get the title with Paolo Nocera last year, while Bortolotti has always worked with great professionalism, playing a crucial role outside racing weekends as well as merely driving.
"During races, he has always been fast and, in practice, he never made any mistakes throughout the whole season. The season finale was red-hot, but we left the others to argue while we concentrated ourselves on race preparation - and this helped to make the difference at Vallelunga. The result obtained by Castellacci and Nava, respectively fourth and fifth in the final classification, adds a further positive note to our season but, from tomorrow on, we will work on 2009."