BERTOLINI AND ARTELS CHAMPIONS FOR THE SECOND TIME, MC12 FIRST AND THIRD IN THE CHAMPIONSHIPPotrero de Los Funes Circuit, 6,249 m., sunny, 33°C
In the land of Juan Manuel Fangio, unforgettable Formula 1 World Champion in 1957 with Maserati, Andrea Bertolini and Michael Bartels added another resounding victory to the Tridente's collection.
Driving one of Vitaphone Racing Team's Maserati MC12s, they won their second Drivers' title in the FIA GT International Championship, after the first one obtained in 2006. This is the third consecutive Drivers' title for the German team, counting Thomas Biagi's victory last year.
The Vitaphone Racing Team also won the Teams' Championship for the fourth consecutive year, proof of the team's high professional quality and top-notch race drivers. The second MC12, driven by Miguel Ramos and Alexandre Negraõ, got an excellent final third place behind their own team-mates. This extraordinary, lasting competitiveness is also due to victory in three of Spa's classic 24 Hours in the last four years.
Since the year of its debut, 2004, to today, MC12 has won an overall 10 titles in the FIA GT (four Drivers', four GT1 Teams' and two Manufacturers' titles). This year's high level of FIA GT International Championship racing is confirmed by the participation of five different car makes in the GT1 category: Maserati, Aston Martin, Chevrolet Corvette, Ferrari and Lamborghini. Ferrari and Porsche were part of the GT2 category.
On average, over 20 cars competed at each race. The last race saw Bertolini zoom into third position behind Mackowiecki and Fassler. After noting the track's tyre grip problems due to dust and sand and the new, rather thinnish paving, the Italian driver adopted a conservative tactic together with team-mate Bartels, letting their adversaries move on to stay in control of the race and not take unnecessary risks. There were quite a few accidents, and only five cars made it to the finish line. During the 20th lap Negraõ lost control of the car at turn 16 and was forced to leave the track. Maserati SpA CEO Harald Jakob Wester was present at the circuit and congratulated the drivers and the team at length.
Andrea BERTOLINI (Vitaphone Racing – Maserati MC12 no. 1)"It was an extremely tough race; every time I moved ahead, the car would pick up dust and sand and would become uncontrollable. This is why I tried to drive it as smoothly as possible in order to make sure it made it to the finish line because an accident would have ruined everything. When I jumped in the car to run the last decisive laps, I felt an enormous responsibility weighing on me, but luckily everything went fine."
Michael BARTELS (Vitaphone Racing – Maserati MC12 no. 1)"The track’s condition was really difficult and this turned the race – which should have been a stroll in the park – into a sort of lottery in which anything could happen. In the end we once again emerged as champions and this is what counts. I would like to thank Stephane Sarrazin and Eric van de Poele from here in Argentina for the fantastic job they did in Spa, enabling us to win the 24 Hour, which once again proved to be the key race to win the championship. I'd also like to emphasise the great job the San Luis community did in creating this circuit in just nine months."
Harald Jakob WESTER (Maserati SpA CEO)"It is the first time that I witness a live race with our team. I am very happy. This is an important victory and we will keep on working in order to repeat it next year."
Results San Luis (Argentina) – 10° round FIA GT Championship1. Longin/Kumpen (Saleen S7) after 51 laps, average speed 159,63 km/h; 2. Hezemans/Gollin (Corvette Z06) +0"561; 3. Soulet/Ledesman/Fumal (Corvette Z06) +34"211; 4. Lopez/Tuero (Ferrari 550 Maranello) +1'42"310; 5. Bertolini/Bartels (Vitaphone Racing Team- Maserati MC12) +2'13"996;… DNF Ramos/Negraõ (Vitaphone Racing Team Maserati MC12)
Classifica finale FIA GT 20081. Bertolini/Bartels 70 punti; 2. Hezemans/Gollin 66 p.; 3. Ramos/Negraõ 52.5 p.