Maserati up at the podium for Spa's 24 Hours
MC12 n° 33 driven by Pier Guidi/Lemeret/Vosse/Rosenblad ended up with second place, while Bartels/Bertolini/Sarrazin/Negraõ's car got fourth. The race was ultimately won by the Corvette Z06 driven by Hezemans/Kumpen/Menten/Mollekens.
This result confirms the Modenese cars’ excellent relationship with the Belgian racetrack and once again demonstrates the MC12's great reliability. The race, which had started out with all three Vitaphone Racing Team’s cars in front, was conditioned by quite unstable weather conditions, with violent downpours during the first few hours and during the night.
It was a rather unfortunate race for the Modenese cars, which had been great protagonists at every stage of the race up to at least the eighteenth hour.
The first misfortune for the MC12s arrived at lap no. 186, just past midnight. Andrea Bertolini, at the wheel of car n° 1, slid on an oil slick in Pouhon and violently struck the barriers in Fagnes. The Italian driver, who had been in second position up to then, was unscathed, but the MC12 was heavily damaged. Repaired by mechanics in approximately two hours, the provisional rank leader was able to get back to the track but without hopes of winning due to loss of leading position.
Much to the team’s chagrin, the Vitaphone pit became once again the focus point a few laps later when it became necessary to fix the MC12 driven by Pier Guidi, car n° 33, whose front was damaged in a back-marking maneuver.
MC12 n° 1's inheritance was meanwhile taken up by Maserati n° 2. Alex Müller, Pedro Lamy and Eric Van de Poele were involved in a thrilling contention with Corvettes n° 3 and n° 4, managing to overcome them and leading the group near the twelfth hour.
The following six hours featured heated contention between these three vehicles, with Lamy firmly in command as of lap 328 and driving in first position both at the start of the 15th and the 18th hour, while all this time the MC12 n° 33 regained fourth position and car n° 1, then driven by Sarrazin, was making time in line with the leaders, despite being behind by over sixty laps.
Nevertheless, Maserati's hopes of victory were dashed during the 419th lap, driven by Alex Müller at the time, MC12 n° 2's back right rim exploded, irreparably damaging the back of the car and forcing the German driver to stop the car along the track. It was a rather unusual, unforeseen incident.
A few hours later, after Corvette n° 3's pit stop which immediately seemed quite a long stop, MC12 n° 33’s chance of ending at the podium and MC12 n° 1’s chance at earning another position useful for the championship kept the Vitaphone Racing Team’s tension high. The tension eased only upon the appearance of the checkered flag, which marked the second place for Pier Guidi/Lemeret/Vosse/Rosenblad and the fourth place for Bartels/Bertolini/Sarrazin/Negraõ.
Ranking sixth despite its unfortunate setback, Ramos/Müller/Van De Poele/Lamy’s MC12 n° 2 —as well as the reigning world champion duo— takes home precious points for the championship, which will resume in Budapest, Hungary, on 30 August.