Vitantonio Liuzzi scored his fifth win from six races at Silverstone on Saturday, after taking his Arden International Lola from pole to victory lane to extend his lead in this year's FIA F3000 Championship.
Giving locally-based Arden its third home victory in as many years, Liuzzi made full use of the pole position he secured on Friday afternoon to head title rival Enrico Toccacelo in to Copse, from where he was only ever headed as the mandatory pit-stops played themselves out through the middle of the 30-lap event.
Although the Italian appeared to be in control of the entire race, however, he still had to work hard for his ten points, particularly in the closing stages, when a grip problem meant that he was unable to press on as he had in the early part of the race, and had the BCN car of Toccacelo looming ever larger in his mirrors.
“Enrico put the pressure on me in the later stages of the race, but I was able to control a reasonable gap,” Liuzzi reckoned, having crossed the line a second clear of his countryman, “The team did a great job as usual with the pit-stop.”
Toccacelo claimed his fourth runners-up position of the year, but believed that, with more time, he could have passed his nemesis. The BCN driver revelled in his second set of tyres, claiming that - unlike Liuzzi's - they were a definite improvement over the rubber that he had started the race with, but explained that Silverstone's quick layout made it harder than usual to line up a passing move.
Whilst Toccacelo held a comfortable second place throughout the race, there was entertainment all the way behind him, as an early-race fight between Jose-Maria Lopez, Esteban Guerrieri and Patrick Friesacher saw overtaking attempts aplenty.
Enge and Friesacher both enjoyed good starts, vaulting into third and fourth places respectively, and it was the Austrian who appeared to be the fastest man on track in the early stages, threatening his Czech rival's third place ahead of the pit-stops. Lopez and Guerrieri, meanwhile, were embroiled in their own all-Argentine battle, with the CMS driver just holding off his fellow rookie until both headed for the pits.
As usual with teams getting more and more accustomed to the pressures of changing tyres against the clock, most of the pit-stops - which were undertaken earlier than in recent races - were conducted with precision. Apart from Friesacher's...
The Austrian saw all of his early race work count for nothing as he lost five places and re-joined behind former Super Nova team-mate Alan van der Merwe. Friesacher admitted later that the problem was all of his own making, as he released the brake early in his desperation to catch Enge and prevented his team from completing their work until he prevented the wheels from spinning. Then the Austrian managed to stall the car in his haste to get away, eventually rejoining in ninth place.