Sebring, March 17, 2005
Maserati made its return to racing in an official car in the United States,
obtaining a good finishing position at the 53rd 12 Hours of Sebring. For
the record, the race was won by the Kristensen/Werner/Letho crew driving
the Audi R8.
The MC12 crewed by Andrea Bertolini/Fabrizio De Simone and Fabio
Babini finished in fifth place in the GT1 category and ninth overall. It was a
result that pleased the Maserati Corse technicians given that the car, one
modified to adhere to FIA GT1 regulations, was making its competition
debut. Only a month has passed since the first test session conducted at
the Paul Ricard circuit in France.
It was also the first time that the MC12 had entered a twelve hour event.
The very fact of having finished the race at the first attempt is a positive
factor and is a demonstration that the project is proceeding well. This was
the MC12’s fifth race since its debut at Imola last year.
Unfortunately, an unscheduled stop to secure the two gear lever support
brackets in place meant eighteen laps were lost. The repairs could not be
carried out in the pit lane and the team had to take the car to the paddock
area to fix the problem. A contact with a Sport car and problem with a clutch
fluid connection during a pit stop were additional hindrances. Once back
on the track, the MC12 kept up a consistent pace. A best time of 1.59.181
was set on lap 287. Of the thirty-eight crews that lined up at the start, only
twenty crossed the finish line.
In line with IMSA rules, the car had 58kg of ballast on board, a factor that
had an impact on its performance. In any case, a shrewd strategy, the
crew’s fine driving and the Pirelli Racing P Zero tyres resulted in the team
scoring a great final position. Sebring sets the team up well for the rest of
the season. The IMSA have ruled definitively against Aston Martin’s protest
at the MC12’s inclusion in the championship. Andrea Bertolini and Fabrizio
De Simone, both at Sebring for the first time, will also be at Road Atlanta
for the next meet. Fabio Babini, on the other hand, will be concentrating on
the FIA GT international championship at the wheel of the Vitaphone
Racing Team’s MC12.
Claudio Berro, Maserati Corse Director
“We are very pleased with the result obtained in such a tough race as the
12 Hours of Sebring in a car modified to meet FIA GT standards. The
drivers raced impeccably and the team worked extremely well. A couple of
technical problems meant that we lost some laps but the car proved its
potential. I would like to pay particular thanks to our partners Pirelli and
Risi Competizione who helped us a lot this weekend”.
“Finishing the race is extremely satisfying. The car was very reliable. We
would have made the podium had it not been for a couple of technical
problems. I would like to thank the team for their incredible work at
Fabrizio De Simone
“It was a great race on an unusual circuit. It is a shame that we were forced
to stop in the paddock for such a long time. We have gained a lot of
experience and gathered data that will be useful in preparing for the
upcoming races. We proved we have the capacity and the professionalism
to do well in future races”.
“This was my fourth time at Sebring and I am pleased because it was the
fourth time I have finished. I have always had good memories of this
circuit. We secured our first good result in the new GT1 car. We have all
worked hard and everything worked well, both the car and the tyres.