If there was any doubt as to who dominates the international sportscar racing circuit, let those doubts be put to rest. After taking top honors in the now-defunct FIA GT Championship with little exception every year since 2005, Maserati has claimed overall victory in the inaugural FIA GT1 World Championship that has replaced it this year.
Driving duties were handled with mastery once again by Michael Bartels and Andrea Bertolini for the Vitaphone Racing Team behind the wheel of the Maserati MC12. The Trident duo took the checkered flag at four out of the ten rounds that comprised this year's championship, more than any other team, claiming 138 points in the drivers' standings to runner-up Thomas Mutsch with 119 in the Matech Ford GT, and 195 in the teams' standings to the Hexis Aston Martin squad's 177. Other contenders included GT1-spec racers based on the Nissan GT-R, Chevrolet Corvette and Lamborghini Murcielago LP670.
Hexis won the final round in San Luis, Argentina, by a considerable margin with their Aston Martin DBR9, but it wasn't enough to steal the title from the Vitaphone Maserati team, crowning the MC12 as the undisputed king of the hill. Follow the jump for details in the press release.
MASERATI WORLD CHAMPION! BERTOLINI AND BARTELS CLINCH THE FIA GT1 WORLD TITLE WITH THE MC12
Modena, December 7 2010. Fifth Drivers' title and sixth Team's title in six seasons for the Maserati MC12 in the international FIA GT Championship - World Championship. Leading actors in Maserati's 2010 success were, for the fourth time, the Bertolini-Bartels crew and the German Vitaphone Racing Team: they won six titles in six years.
Maserati's success story in the FIA GT Championship started in 2004 when the MC12 competed in four races, outside the Championship ranking. Success came early as Maserati achieved its first victory in the second race it entered with Bertolini-Salo. From the following season Maserati joined forces with the Vitaphone Racing Team, flanked in 2005 by JMB and in 2007 by PlayTeam.
From 2005 to date, Maserati has struck with the MC12 both its targets, the Drivers' and Teams' titles, on every occasion with the single exception of the first time around, when Bertolini-Wendlinger, fielded by the JMB team and heading up the ranking until then, saw their championship victory slip through their fingers in the last race due to a transmission problem which was unprecedented on the car and has since failed to reoccur.
Reliability and competitiveness are the two key factors in Maserati's prolonged series of successes. If the MC12 has been able to stay at the top for many years, despite significant changes in the technical regulations, this is due to the fact that the car comes without innate flaws, with a highly rigid carbon fibre monocoque chassis, excellent weight distribution between front and rear, equally excellent aerodynamic balance and a very low centre of gravity. For these reasons even when its aspirated 6-litre V12 engine, originally 750 HP, was first reduced to 630 HP according to 2005 FIA regulations, then to the current 560 HP to comply with the current regulations, the car still stood out from the competition in terms of overall balance, speed on curves and lower tyre wear. This is the explanation of the MC12 triumphs.
Maserati's participation in the FIA GT Championship since 2005 produced fourteen titles (and 22 victories): two Constructors' Cups (2005 and 2007), five Drivers' Titles (Bartels-Bertolini in 2006, Thomas Biagi in 2007, and Bartels-Bertolini in 2008, 2009 and 2010); six Teams' Titles (consecutively since 2005, by the Vitaphone Racing Team); one Citation Cup in 2007 by gentleman driver Ben Aucott, JMB Racing, in addition to three absolute victories in Spa's 24 Hours (2005, 2006 and 2008).
Races have always been Maserati's favorite testing ground. The GranTurismo MC Stradale that was introduced at the recent Paris Motor Show is the most recent example of the connection existing between Maserati's racing activity and its road-going production. The new Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale will be the fastest, lightest and most powerful car in the Maserati range when it goes on sale in the first quarter of 2011. The Maserati
GranTurismo MC Stradale uses advanced electronics to cut gear-shift times from the upgraded MC Race Shift electro-actuated transaxle gearbox to just 60 milliseconds. This all helps to slash the 0-100km/h sprint time, which the Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale covers in just 4.6 seconds. The Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale is also the first Maserati in history to have a dedicated Race mode alongside the upgraded Auto and Sport modes in its simplified dash layout.