The sixth season in the Maserati GranTurismo MC Trofeo got underway on 21-22 March. The stage was the circuit of Vallelunga as two days of timed sessions were held.
The weekend also gave drivers who have competed in the past a chance to get to know the car again. Riccardo Ragazzi, from Veneto and now heading into his third Maserati single-make series, is one such driver. Last year he finished second in the general classification, behind champion Mauro Calamia, and will be one of the title chasers. Another competitor making a comeback at the Rome track was Alessandro Iazzetti. He appeared only a few times in 2014 but collected a fourth spot in Race 2 at Abu Dhabi in the season's last round. Australian Richard Denny makes a welcome return, as does Emanuele Smurra, a star in 2010 and 2011 and winner of Trofeo Maserati in 2003 in the Coupè Cambiocorsa. Among the newcomers is Jacques Isler, from Switzerland. He is an expert driver with experience in various categories, among them Formula 2.
Vallelunga also saw the running of the programme dedicated to new drivers: the Racing Academy. Participants were flanked by professional instructors for both practical and classroom sessions. Once the theory had been covered, the drivers took to the track for a series of laps in the dry, on Saturday, and in wetter conditions on the Sunday. There was healthy competition between the participants and, in the end, the top two drivers were rewarded with the opportunity to take part in Round 1 of the Trofeo Maserati. This will be run on 26 April, at Paul Ricard, and the two drivers who earned the right to compete, free of charge, were Alexander West (from Finland) and Alessandro Fogliani. They will share the same car and have the support of an instructor for the entire weekend.
The drivers' performance was measured using the Driving Quality Coefficient (CQG in italian): an evaluation method that takes into account a number of parameters including handling of the steering wheel, braking and acceleration. This data is crunched for all the drivers, on their fastest lap, and measured against standards set by the instructors.
After Paul Ricard, on 24 May the Trofeo Maserati will move on to Austria and, for the first time, the circuit of Spielberg. Road America, in Wisconsin, is another new track; it will host a race in the United States on 28 June. The other event on US soil will be on 23 August as the VIR – Danville track, in Virginia, makes a return.
On 25 October the championship will be in Asia and, for the first time ever, Suzuka (Japan) will be the venue. Then, for the third straight year, Abu Dhabi will be the setting for the gran finale as the season climaxes on 11 December.