Herbert - De Simone / Copyright Maserati - Studio Mazzi
 

The race

Zhuhai - CHINA
14/11/2004

Historic Maserati one-two in Zhuhai

14/11/2004 - Zhuhai
With a spectacular one-two, the two Maserati MC12s fielded by AF Corse signed off the FIA GT championship in the best of ways.

Run at Zhuhai, China, the result was important in strengthening the Trident marque in what is a market with enormous growth potential. Chief Executive Martin Leach, the heads of local dealerships and invited guests were present at the track to witness the great event. Having set the second and third fastest times in qualifying, Herbert and Salo got off to a reasonable start and after the first round of pit stops the MC12s had moved into the lead.

The two Maseratis battled for top spot with Bobbi/Gardel’s 550 Maranello throughout, with the 575 GTC of Babini/Morbidelli occasionally pressing. Adopting the right race strategy was to prove fundamental in gaining a margin over the pack. The new Pirellis played a crucial role in this as they gave the MC12 drivers the chance to run two stints with the same set of tyres and at a consistently high rhythm. Not having to change the tyres meant that precious seconds were saved during the pit stop. During the race, Bertolini was bumped by a Saleen but managed to maintain control of his MC12.

Herbert, meanwhile, suffered a short-lived misfiring of his engine that saw him briefly concede first place to Salo. It was at this point that De Simone set off on an impossible comeback mission and the two Ferraris realised that victory was out of their grasp. At the chequered flag Bertolini just edged out De Simone in a thrilling finish. The two MC12s then paraded side-by-side along the home straight and played out a grid start to salute the team gathered at the race wall. Bobbi and Gardel in the 550 Maranello from Scuderia Italia ended the race in third.