Maserati stamped its authority of the 2006 FIA GT World Championship at the weekend (15 October 2006) with a resounding 1-2 win in the Italian round enabling Maserati drivers Bertolini and Bartels to claim the drivers' title with a race to spare and joining the team prize won by the Maserati Vitaphone team at the last round in Hungary.
"This is the best day of my career and I am about to conclude an amazing season," said new crowned drivers' champion Andrea Bertolini at the finish. "Thanks go to the team at Maserati and the squad, thanks to Pirelli who have helped us along the way with continual development. The results came through, partly due to us drivers, from my team mate Michael Bartels to Jamie Davies and Thomas Biagi who scored a great win today".
Maserati secured first and second place in Italy as the Maserati MC12s driven by Jamie Davies-Thomas Biagi and Andrea Bertolini-Michael Bartels, beat off the challenge of Longin-Kumpen-Hezemans' Corvette. Adria was a crucial race where the Maserati drivers took the title with a race to spare.
The crown is added to that already won in the team standings by team Vitaphone Racing Team in the last round at Hungororing (Budapest).
Maserati, going into the final round at Dubai on 18 November, has scored five wins (Silverstone, Oschersleben, 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, Paul Ricard and Adria), 8 podiums and 1 pole position. This form proves the reliability and fine performance of the MC12. In its sporting career, which began in 2004, it also scooped the Constructors' and Team titles in the 2005 FIA GT championship.
As well as the Team and Drivers' titles in the FIA GT, Maserati also claimed the Italian GT crown as Toni Vilander and Gianbattista Giannoccaro, claimed their final two races in the Playteam MC12 at Vallelunga.
Watching the race was chief executive of Maserati S.p.A., Roberto Ronchi. Just after the chequered flag was flown he commented enthusiastically on Maserati's sporting endeavours.
"A fantastic result obtained thanks to the infinite passion that drives everyone at Maserati. Here on the track, as in Modena, everyone can feel the same passion used to build our cars. Both our race and road cars are not only stunning and high performing but also reliable and competitive, as Maseratis have traditionally been."
Bertolini lost two places after starting from the second row. He made these up on lap 26 after having driven cautiously early on. He preserved his brakes and tyres on the windy Adria circuit and also had to take the extra 55kg of ballast into account. The Maserati driver's tactics paid off as, in the tussle for first place between Piccini, Babini, Janis and Bouchut, the provisional leader was forced to retire after clashing with the car behind him.
The other Maserati MC12 (65kg of ballast), with Thomas Biagi on board, adopted the same tactic. He was eighth after lap one but climbed to fourth by lap 29. This position behind the leaders with Bertolini in third, tucked in behind Janis (Saleen S7R) and Babini (Aston Martin DBR9). Chasing the Maserati was Bouchut's Lamborghini and the Corvette of Longin.
After the pit stops, taken by Bertolini on lap 46 and Biagi on lap 50, their respective team mates Michael Bartels and Jamie Davies moved into fourth and fifth. Pescatori (Babini's replacement), Bert (Janis's partner) and Kumpen (driving with Longin) were the three up front. At the halfway stage, the two Maserati MC12s had climbed a position following Pescatori's second pit stop.
On lap 78, the MC12s swapped places with Davies in Kumpen's slipstream (overtaken on lap 85). Five laps later Bartels also overtook the Corvette and led along with Babini's Aston Martin.
In the last half hour, Montermini (Saleen S7R), Biagi and Bertolini were grouped within nine seconds of each other in the lead with the two Maserati drivers making a comeback. On lap 118 with the Saleens in the pit lane, the two Maseratis cruised off to take a one-two finish.
The 2006 FIA GT championship will end on 18 November at the Dubai circuit in the United Arab Emirates.
FIA GT Championship, final results at Adria:
1. Davies-Biagi (Maserati MC12) 144 giri;
2. Bartels-Bertolini (Maserati MC12) + 9"092;
3. Longin-Kumpen-Hezemans (Corvette C6R) + 41"181;
4. Pescatori-Babini (Aston Martin DBR9) + 1'00"390;
5. Gollin-Ramos (Aston Martin DBR9) + 1 giro
Drivers Championship after 9 races:
1. Bartolini e Bartels 69;
3. Bert 55;
4. Janis 51;
5. Piccini, Deletraz 52;
7. Davies e Biagi 48;
8. Babini 46