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Paul Ricard - france

Davies - Biagi

Nel 2006: Another podium for Davies-Biagi's MC12

Le Castellet - The Vitaphone Racing Team Maserati MC12, driven by Thomas Biagi and Jamie Davies, finished third in the fifth round of the FIA GT championship.

The event was held at the French circuit of 'Paul Ricard' at Le Castellet. It was an extraordinary result for the Anglo-Italian crew that was forced to start from the pit lane after being damaged by a slower car during the formation lap.

With Biagi at the wheel, the MC12 had to come into the pits to repair the rear right suspension and thus lost the front row earned in qualifying. The order at the chequered flag was headed by the Corvette C6Rs with Longin-Kumpen-Hezemans and Menten-Belloc on board. Biagi-Davies' Maserati MC12 beat off the Aston Martin DBR 9s driven by Wendlinger-Peter, Gollin-Babini and Deletraz-Piccini.

The other Maserati, with Michael Bartels and Andrea Bertolini in the driving seat, took seventh. At the green light, Biagi had to wait for the other cars to file past before taking up a position at the back of the field. Then the Maserati Vitaphone Racing Team driver, equipped as ever with Pirelli PZero Racing tyres, began a fantastic comeback.

By lap eight the Italian had climbed into the top ten and, between laps 24 and 30, tussled with Piccini and Babini's Aston Martin DBR9s before moving into third. This was a position maintained by his team mate Davies and consolidated by Biagi in the closing stages of the race.

The substitution of the engine (made as a precaution in the warm up) meant that Bertolini and Bartels, as the regulations state, had to start from the back of the grid. This meant that the crew lost the fifth place they had scooped in the qualifying session. Andrea Bertolini, first into the MC12, concluded the first hour of racing in ninth place having made up 17 places.

German Michael Bartels drove superbly in the second half of the race to climb another position.

In the third and final hour, with Bertolini once more behind the wheel, the Maserati MC12 (recent winner of the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps) kept up a high tempo despite having an extra 125 kg of ballast on board. Twenty five kilos of this was assigned at the begining of the season and 100 following the results of the previous races. The added weight had a notable effect on the car's performance.

Seventh place overall proved the reliability of the Maserati after 500 kilometres of racing. The next round of the FIA GT championship will be held in France once more, this time at the Digione circuit on 3 September.