Maserati has maintained its leads in the FIA GT World Championship following two races at the weekend (23-24 August 2008) at the new Bucharest road circuit in Romania, with Vitaphone Maserati team still leading the team title chase and its drivers, Andrea Bertolini and Michael Bartels, still in front in the drivers’ title battle despite the Maserati crews forced to haul 60 kg of ballast follow previous round wins.
With 44,000 visitors over the weekend, 25,000 filled the grandstands on Sunday to see Marcel Fässler and Jean-Denis Deletraz triumph in their Phoenix Carsport Corvette C6R. The Swiss duo have dominated the whole weekend, with Fässler taking pole position, and leading their car to victory in Saturday’s qualifying race. This gave them the pole advantage for the Championship race, which they used to full effect. Chased throughout by Hezemans and Gollin in their sister Phoenix Carsport Corvette, their victory was only assured when the nr 6 touched the wall and ended its progress. This left second and third places to the Vitaphone Racing Team Maserati MC 12 cars, which had seemed particularly at ease on the short, tight circuit despite their success ballast from Spa.
After a difficult race, which Miguel Ramos described as the most difficult of his career, the nr 2 Vitaphone Maserati finished second, despite 60 kg penalty weight and the fact that the car was suffering from a gearbox problem and overheating oil.
“It was the toughest race of my life because when my turn to drive came the car was having problems with the clutch between the second and third gears, and by then the brakes were overheated too,” explains Ramos. “I practically ran my stint entirely on fourth, taking incredible risks, but all went well.”
Bartels and Bertolini crossed the line 13 seconds behind the winners in third, meaning that their Maserati MC 12 will have even more weight for Brno. However, Michael Bartels spoke for everyone when he thanked the city and the event organisers for their hard work:
“I would like to use this opportunity, on the behalf of the drivers, to thank the Bucharest Ring people here and the people at SRO,” he said. “To organise a race like this; to manage to close a city with three million inhabitants for a race, it means a lot. I think the race went without big problems. From the driver’s side, we were happy to find the conditions here. There are still some improvements to be made, but I hope we can keep this race on the calendar. Thank you to everyone at the Bucharest Ring.”
Anthony Kumpen and Bert Longin put in a fine performance to finish just off the podium, in fourth position, in their PK Carsport Saleen S7R. Challenging the nr 1 Maserati for much of the hour race, the car claimed its best finish of the season in the Romanian heat. Fifth went to the nr 10 Gigawave Motorsport Aston Martin DBR9, ahead of the nr 3 SRT Corvette of Bouchut and Maassen, and the nr 8 IPB Spartak Lamborghini Murciélago. These three cars raced nose to tail through the city streets for much of the race, despite the heat and the traffic. The top six finished within 38 seconds after 46 laps of racing, showing how close the race was. The nr 6 Phoenix Carsport Corvette was classified eighth, after stopping ten laps back further to contact with the wall when it was challenging for the lead.
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