Maserati may be yet to take the top step of the podium in 2008, but consistent performances on the second and third steps of the podium, culminating in a second place in the weekend’s (21 June 2008) third round of the FIA GT World Championship at the Italian track at Adria, has seen the Maserati Vitaphone Team take the lead in the team championship and Maserati drivers Andrea Bertolini and Michael Bartels are now first equal in driver’s title chase.
The third round of the 2008 FIA GT Championship, an evening race at the Adria International Raceway in Italy, saw the GMAC-backed Phoenix Racing team take its first win, with victory going to Fabrizio Gollin and Mike Hezemans in the number sic Corvette C6R. They finished nine seconds ahead of the number one Vitaphone Maserati MC 12 of Bertolini and Bartels, with the second Phoenix Corvette, driven by Swiss duo Marcel Fässler and Jean-Denis Deletraz, third, just 12 seconds behind the winner.
Bouchut and Maassen, carrying 40 kg penalty weight on the tight circuit after winning in Monza, were fourth in their SRT Corvette, allowing them to lose some ballast for the next round in Oschersleben. Larbre Competition had its best result to date, with fifth for Vosse and Franchi. Gigawave Motorsport finished in sixth position, the only Aston in the points after neither Jetalliance car reached the chequered flag. JMB Racing ran a steady race to finish seventh, ahead of ACA Argentina, their Ferrari 550 claiming its first FIA GT point.
The race saw a very tight four-way battle, between the two Corvettes, the Maserati and the nr 33 Jetalliance car. Fässler led at the start, but Bertolini took the lead on lap four, pulling out a narrow lead. It looked as if the Maserati would claim the win, but a drive-through penalty for a grid infraction dropped the Maserati back. In the final stint, Gollin took the lead, and, despite being under pressure from the Maserati and his team-mate Fässler, crossed the line to take his 8th FIA GT win – and to give his team-mate Mike Hezemans his 12th victory.
Gollin, who dedicated his victory to his friend and former driving instructor who died this week, commented : “This was an emotional victory for me. The race was very tough for everyone. We fought, and at the end we pushed the car a lot and it went well. This is my home race so it’s great to have a win here, I’m happy.”
Maserati’s Michael Bartels added : “What’s really nice about the last three races we’ve had is that we’re all so close, and we’re really fighting fair, fighting for hundredths and thousandths of a second, and millimetres. I think we should keep on working like this and we’ll have a fantastic year.”
In the Championship, Bertolini and Bartels are now tied with Monza winners Bouchut and Maassen, who finished fourth, in the GT1 Drivers points, closely followed by Gollin and Hezemans. Kaufmann and Talkanitsa won the Citation Cup for AT Racing.
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