Portimao - PRT

Chiesa and Bertolini at Portimao, 22nd May 2011

Race 2: The wheel of...misfortune

Another tyre problem hit Andrea Bertolini's Maserati Quattroporte Evo at the third round of the International Superstars Series. This time the consequences were more serious for Bertolini and the privately-owned Swiss Team squad.

At Portimao, despite having a 40kg weight handicap, Bertolini was leading and heading for a win in the second race when a tyre problem struck. In Race 1 it was a damaged front left tyre that gave out a few hundreds metres from the finish that let him down. Luckily he only slipped one position, from third to fourth. This time it was the front right that exploded.


The incident came after the Maserati driver had moved into the lead at the start of the race and was holding a healthy advantage. Number one spot came after Bertolini smartly outdid poleman Alberto Cerqui and his BMW M3 from BMW Italia.

Bertolini could do nothing to control the car as it headed straight for the run off area and got caught up in the sand. This opened the door for Thomas Biagi, in another BMW Italia BMW M3 E92, to take the win. Biagi had just overtaken Cerqui, a driver who went on to finish second.
 Swiss Team took some satisfaction from the sixth place won by its other Quattroporte Evo, driven by Andrea Chiesa.


The Swiss driver made a superb comeback from thirteenth place on the grid. This slot was the result of a few problems with his brand new car, one that was only finished just before the Portimao weekend.

Chiesa's closest on-track battle was against Romagnoli, and his Mercedes Amg C63 (CAAL), who the Swiss driver managed to overtake at the halfway mark. A problem with a tyre on Herbert's Mercedes Amg C63 (Romeo Ferraris) made things easier for Chiesa, as did a technical glitch on Armetta's car.



Race 1: Bertolini just misses out on the podium

A podium finish slipped away for Maserati in the third round of the International Superstars Series at Portimao. Andrea Bertolini, in the Quattroporte Evo fielded by Swiss Team, was in third throughout the race and always in touch with the leaders, Thomas Biagi and Alberto Cerqui in their BMW M3 E92s from BMW Italia.

Then, with two minutes left, the tyres suddenly gave out and Bertolini was forced to slow right down. On the final lap, the front left tyre blew and the Maserati driver had to ease off the accelerator and make room for Stefano Gabellini to snatch third in another BMW Italia car. Bertolini eventually crossed the line with the tyre smoking and hanging off the rim. Ahead of him placed Biagi, Cerqui and Gabellini.


The Quattroporte Evo, with Maserati's official driver at the wheel, paid the price for carrying 50 kg of ballast. This handicap was imposed after he came first and second at Valencia last time out. More weight means that the tyres wear out quicker and, in the end, they couldn't take the punishment dished out in what was a fast, hard race. It was a shame because Bertolini had been careful not to stress the tyres too much in qualifying and in the race itself. In Qualifying, he used each of his two available sets for just one lap but still clocked the second best time behind Cerqui.


In the race, Bertolini let Biagi through to avoid a futile duel that would have worn down the tyres; Biagi had no extra weight on board and went on to win. Bertolini tucked in behind the lead BMWs and was never more than 2-3" off first Biagi and then Cerqui at the halfway stage.


Fourth place confirmed Bertolini's third position overall, behind Ferrara and Biagi. Less fortunate was Bertolini's team-mate Andrea Chiesa. Starting from 13th after suffering teething problems with his new Quattroporte Evo, in a car had only been delivered on the eve of the Portimao weekend, the ex-Formula 1 man was making a fine comeback and was in ninth at the halfway point. While overtaking other cars, De Giacomi's BMW M3 E90, from Movisport, moved onto Chiesa's inside and rammed into the back left of his Maserati. The contact sent Chiesa into a spin and saw him drop back to eleventh. Chiesa then had to start his comeback again and went on to cross the line in ninth.