In the meantime the attention turned to the leaders: Cecotto had opened up a 7s lead over Richelmi by the midpoint of the race, who was himself another 18s ahead of third-placed Leimer as the Swiss driver tried his best to reel them in. However, the top two still had to time their mandatory pit stop and get back ahead of the rest of the field: Richelmi blinked first and came in at the end of lap 23, his soft tyres fading fast meaning he was losing touch with Cecotto. Richemli rejoined right in the middle of the battle for third place between Nasr, van der Garde and Melker for third place but his colder tyres meant he lost two-thirds of that battle and ended up having to settle for fifth place ahead of Melker for the time being.
Cecotto was into pit lane next time around: despite a slow stop for Barwa Addax with a problematic left-rear wheel, his margin was enough to put him back out on the track just ahead of Leimer. His fresher rear tyres than those of the Racing Engineering car allowed him to pull away with 13 laps to go. Once they were properly heated up to race temperature, Richelmi also put his own fresher tyres to good use by soon retaking all the positions he lost on his exit from pit lane.
That ended up sorting the podium positions for the feature race, with Cecotto holding a comfortable margin over Leimer, and Richelmi now pulling away in third place from Nasr and van der Garde. Nigel Melker was able to hold on to sixth place despite pressure from behind from Razia and Calado, who will duly make up the front row of the sprint race starting grid; Melker meanwhile faces a post-race stewards investigation for an unsafe pit release.
A spirited final two-lap battle saw Esteban Gutiérrez battle his way past Marcus Ericsson as the two fought over the final points positions, only for Tom Dillmann to jump past them both in the final run through the hairpin and just about hold on to claim ninth for Rapax ahead of the Lotus.
Victor Guerin was the only official retiree of the race, his day ending in the gravel with ten laps to go after losing the back end of the Ocean Racing car through a right-hander. Ricardo Teixeira's dreadful weekend continued, after the Rapax driver was black-flagged for not serving a drive-thru penalty originally handed out for waved blue flags, while Coloni's Fabio Onidi squandered his strong fourth place grid position by leaving his mandatory pit stop change to slick tyres one lap too long, and then incurring a speeding penalty in the process.
Full feature race results