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OPTICAL AND HEARING
3rd August, 2005
Maserati won its first international endurance race since 1957 at the weekend (30th-31st July 2005) when it finished the legendary Spa 24 Hour race 1-2 with the Maserati MC12 of Michael Bartels, Timo Scheider and Eric Van de Poele dominating the race and the Maserati MC12 of Andrea Bertolini, Karl Wendlinger and Philippe Peter crossing the line in second place.
"It is not easy finding the words to express what I feel," said an emotional Michael Bartels at the finish. "For me it is a dream come true. It was a tough race but the whole team was fantastic. I have to thank my driving partners who drove when the weather was really bad. Now we will aim to win a normal three hour race, maybe the next one in Germany at Oschersleben."
Held in the abysmal weather that the Spa track, set in the hills of the southern Belgium, is renowned, it was also the first outing for the Maserati MC12 in an endurance race.
"It was an exciting race from beginning to end and, in fact, I had to avoid another car that spun on the very last lap in the driving rain," commented Timo Scheider. "With this result, I can confirm that our next aim is to take the next three hour in the FIA GT championship calendar, at Oschersleben at the end of August."
The result also lifts Maserati into the lead in the FIA GT Manufacturers' Championship, while Ferrari driver, Gabriele Gardel maintained his lead in the Drivers' Championship.
The last time a Maserati won an International Endurance race was in 1957 when the 450S took the Sebring 12 Hour with Fangio and Behra at the wheel.
The Vitaphone Racing Team's number 9 MC12, with Michael Bartels, Timo Scheider and the Belgian Eric Van de Poele in the driving seat, dominated the Ardennes race and sixth round of the FIA GT championship. Behind them came Andrea Bertolini, Karl Wendlinger and Philippe Peter in the number 15 JMB Racing MC12.
The two MC12s thus finished in the top two places and were also quickest in qualifying. Fabio Babini, Thomas Biagi and Jamie Davies were unlucky in their number 10 car. They were forced to retire with a transmission problem halfway through the race when holding a podium place.
The two MC12s crossed the line ahead of the Ferrari 550 driven by Gardel, Bouchut, Mollekens and Vosse, and the Corvette C5R with Hezemans, Kumpen, Longin, Bleekmolen in the driving seat. The crew of the JMB Racing number 16 Maserati MC12 decided to pull out six hours into the race but the car was in perfect mechanical order. Gianni Giudici/Diego Romanini/Raffaele Raimondi can be proud of the 25th place overall and the 8th in their class secured in the Maserati Trofeo Light. The car is closely derived from the standard road-going model and took on the 24 Hour without any problems.
Results: 2005 Spa 24 Hour race
1. Bartels/Scheider/Van de Poele Vitaphone Maserati
MC12 GT1 576 laps GT1
2005 FIA GT CHAMPIONSHIP - GT1 DRIVERS' STANDINGS -
POSITION DRIVER TEAM POINTS
1. GABRIELE GARDEL LARBRE COMPETITION 37
2. KARL WENDLINGER JMB RACING 35
= ANDREA BERTOLINI JMB RACING 35
4. PEDRO LAMY LARBRE COMPETITION 32
5. THOMAS BIAGI VITAPHONE RACING TEAM 28
= FABIO BABINI VITAPHONE RACING TEAM 28
7. TIMO SCHEIDER VITAPHONE RACING TEAM 26
= MICHAEL BARTELS VITAPHONE RACING TEAM 26
9. ANTHONY KUMPEN GLPK - CARSPORT 20
= BERT LONGIN GLPK - CARSPORT 20
= MIKE HEZEMANS GLPK - CARSPORT 20
2005 FIA GT CHAMPIONSHIP - GT1 TEAMS STANDINGS
1. VITAPHONE RACING TEAM 54
2. JMB RACING 52
3. LARBRE COMPETITION 43
4. GLPK-CARSPORT 15
5. G.P.C. SPORT 13
6. GLPK RACING 5
= GRAHAM NASH MOTORSPORT 5
8. LISTER RACING 4
9. RUSSIAN AGE RACING 3