Maserati In The FIA GT World Championship
Maserati Adds Drivers’ World Title To Its 2008 Team Title In The FIA GT World Championship
Maserati’s domination of the 2008 FIA GT World Championship was completed at the weekend (23 November 2008) in Argentina with Maserati MC-12 drivers Andrea Bertolini and Michael Bartels adding the Drivers’ Championship title to the Team title already secured by their team, Vitaphone Maserati Racing, at the penultimate round of the series.
For Bartels and Bertolini it was their second FIA GT title, following their debut win in 2006 and it is the third drivers’ title for Vitaphone Maserati, following Thomas Biagi's victory last year. The 2008 title is the fourth consecutive title for the Vitaphone Maserati team. The victories bring to ten the number of titles won by the MC-12 following its 2004 debut, four drivers’, four team awards and two manufacturer titles.
The domination of the series, though, did not make it an easy race for the team. At the start, Bertolini roared into third position behind Mackowiecki and Fassler. Battling the track's tyre grip problems due to dust and sand and the new, rather thin 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.
"It was an extremely tough race; every time I moved ahead, the car would pick up dust and sand and would become uncontrollable,” explained Bertolini. “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 confirmed that the new track and lack of knowledge and experience of the Argentinean conditions provided a real sting in the tail of the championship battle.
"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,” he said. “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 emphasize the great job the San Luis community did in creating this circuit in just nine months."
San Luis (Argentina) – 10° round FIA GT Championship
1. 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
Classifica finale FIA GT 2008
1. Bertolini/Bartels 70 punti; 2. Hezemans/Gollin 66 p.; 3. Ramos/Negraõ 52.5 p.