Already reigning champions, the duo in the Vitaphone Racing Team Maserati MC12 pocketed their fourth Drivers title (their third in succession) at the end of the Qualifying Race in San Luis, Argentina.
The morning session saw victory go to the Aston Martin driven by Makowiecki/Clairy. Right after the start, their car was involved in a crash with two other Astons, the N. 10 crewed by Piccione/Hirschi and the N. 8 with Mucke/Maria Lopez on board. But it was the N.8 car that came off worst and it was forced to retire after a few hundred metres, removing one of the favourites and yesterday's pole man, Argentine Cochito Lopez, from the running.
Bartels/Bertolini's session was compromised by a lap-two clash with the N.24 Lamborghini and this saw the Maserati slide into last place. The safety car came on straight after the incident to allow Kox/Haase's car to be moved from its dangerous position on the track.
Despite the accident, Bartels was able to finish his stint to ensure Maserati the title. This was in the bag all the way as the Maserati crew's main rivals, Turner/Enge, were never in the top-three points zone. After the pit stop, the black and green car climbed a few places and the situation for the other contenders did not improve. At the chequered flag the 28 place difference was enough to give the title to Bartels/Bertolini. Even if they win this afternoon's Championship Race, Turner/Enge can only collect a maximum of 25 points.
What makes this result even sweeter is that the Vitaphone Racing Team has also made sure of the Teams title.
The result of the Qualifying Race has, as usual, determined the grid line up for the Championship Race. This afternoon, Pier Guidi/Verdonck will be in eighth, Heger/Mueller in eleventh, Bartels/Bertolini in twelfth and Bernoldi/Ramos in sixteenth. The final 60 minutes will decide who takes the Manufacturers crown.
|1||9||Makowiecki / Clairay||Aston Martin DB9||57:35.613|
|2||5||Westbrook / Mutsch||Ford GT Matech||+ 13.029|
|3||40||Martin / Leinders||Ford GT||+ 13.477|
|4||10||Piccione / Hirschi||Aston Martin DB9||+ 22.205|
|5||25||Kechele / Jimenez||Lamborghini Murcielago 670 R-S||+ 26.195|
|6||23||Dumbreck / Krumm||Nissan GT - R||+ 28.206|
|7||3||Wendlinger / Moser||Nissan GT - R||+ 29.587|
|8||34||Pier Guidi / Verdonck||Maserati MC12||+ 31.065|
|9||38||Pastorelli / Schwager||Lamborghini Murcielago 670 R-S||+ 34.182|
|10||7||Turner / Enge||Aston Martin DB9||+ 35.849|