The Dubai circuit in the United Arab Emirates today (Saturday 18 November) hosted the tenth and last round of the 2006 FIA GT championship. The series saw the Maserati MC12 fielded by the Vitaphone Racing Team scoop the Team and Drivers' titles before the end of the season courtesy of Michael Bartels and Andrea Bertolini. The race in Dubai for the Trident cars ended with Jamie Davies-Thomas Biagi-Vincent Vosse taking third and the Michael Bartels-Andrea Bertolini-Eric van de Poele crew in eleventh. In first came Deletraz Piccini (Aston Martin DBR9) followed by the Corvette C6R driven by Longin-Kumpen-Hezemans (Corvette C6R).
The opening phase of the race was a tight one. having started from rows two and three, Michael Bartels and Jamie Davies' MC12s were tussling for the lead with Piccini-Deletraz and Babini Malucelli's Aston Martin DBR9s and the Corvette C6R crewed by Longin-Kumpen-Hezemans. Davies had moved into second, behind Piccini, with half an hour of racing gone. Bartels, in the meantime, was sixth and had a harder time of it lapping the back markers.
At the end of the first hour Davies had closed the gap on Piccini while Bartels had climbed to third place, overtaking Gollin-Babini's Aston Martin and closing in on his team mate. After the first round of pit stops, Vincent Vosse (Davies' replacement) and Eric van de Poele (who had substituted Bartels) took to the track and were in third and fifth, respectively. On lap 52, after clashing with a back marker, Van de Poele was forced into the pits to repair the front left suspension. Bertolini had come back into the race and had climbed to eleventh from sixteenth spot.
Biagi ended the race in the number 2 MC12 keeping in contact with the front two throughout.
So ends an exciting season for Maserati. In the 2006 FIA GT championship the Trident claimed five wins in ten races, among them the mythical 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, one of the most difficult of endurance races where Michael Bartels, Andrea Bertolini and Eric van de Poele's MC12 was victorious. Along with this win came those at Silverstone (England), Oschersleben (Germany), Digione (France) and Adria (Italy) where Bartels and Bertolini claimed the Drivers' crown with a race to spare. The Team title was also won by Vitaphone Racing before the end of the championship at the Hungaroring.
There are many reasons why Maserati has collected these important international titles. One important factor is the great reliability of the MC12, with Bartels-Bertolini's car always crossing the finish line and ending in the points in nine out of ten race. Davies-Biagi's vehicle had to retire on only one occasion, at Spa, but scored points in all the other rounds.
From 5 September 2004, the day that the MC12 made its debut at Imola, the cars that marked the Trident's return to racing have collected four international titles (one Constructors', one Drivers' and two Team), 10 wins, 21 podiums and two consecutive wins at the 24 Hour of Spa-Francorchamps.
Advanced technology, passion and a competent Maserati team have all contributed to this success.
After Race Qoutes
"We have worked hard all year for this result: the team and Drivers' titles. We evidently worked better than the other teams and they pushed us all the way. We believed in ourselves from the start, the engineers, mechanics, all the drivers and Pirelli. It was a magnificent season. This is everyone's title, including the fans who have watched us from home".
"Even though we won the title with a race to spare, the championship ended today and winning the title has still not sunk in. Together with Bertolini we won three races but ended nine races out of ten in the points. This was thanks to a reliable car that did not once give us any problems. It was a shame not to have done better here but we cannot have everything!"
"We were fast from the start and ended the season in the best of ways. I think I drove well in this final race even though some slight oversteer made overtaking on the inside of curves difficult. The results obtained allowed us to fight until the end for second place in the championship. I believe that I did my best along with Maserati and Pirelli in a real relationship based on trust".
"I would like to thank my team mates who, in this race, were very quick and handed over to me in a great position. All I had to do was keep control without driving on the limit".
Dubai, lenght 5,394 km
clear, air temperature 30░ C
#1: Maserati MC12;
chassis n░ 15439
Drivers: Andrea Bertolini (I) - Michael Bartels (D) - Eric van de Poele (BEL)
#2: Maserati MC12;
chassis n░ 15443
Drivers: Jamie Davies (UK) - Thomas Biagi (I) - Vincent Vosse (BEL)
FIA GT Championship, final results at Dubai:
1. Deletraz-Piccini (Aston Martin DBR9) 89 laps in 3h01'50"16; 2. Longin-Kumpen-Hezemans (Corvette C6R) + 49"964; 3. Davies-Biagi-Vosse (Maserati MC12) + 1'13"571 11. Bartels-Bertolini-Van de Poele (Maserati MC12) + 4 laps
2006 FIA GT Championship, final results
1. Bartolini and Bartels 69; 3. Piccini and Deletraz 62; 5. Bert 59; 6. Janis 58; 7. Davies and Biagi 54; 9. Babini 51; 10. Hezemans, Longin and Kumpen 48
1. Maserati Vitaphone Racing Team 123; 2. Aston Martin Racing BMS 73,5; 3. Phoenix Motorsport 62
1. Aston Martin 169; 2. Maserati 123; 3. Corvette 65; 4. Saleen 61
Maserati in 2006 FIA GT Championship
2 Pole Position
Oschersleben (GER), Mugello (ITA)
Silverstone (GBR), Oschersleben (GER), 24 Ore Spa-Francorchamps (BEL, + Eric van de Poele)
Dijon (FRA), Adria (ITA)
Mugello (ITA, 2░), Adria (ITA, 2░)
Oschersleben (GER, 2░), Paul Ricard (FRA, 3░), Mugello (ITA, 3░), Dubai (UAE, 3░)