Vallelunga - ITA

Race 2: Bertolini champion in the Quattroporte Evo

Mission accomplished! Andrea Bertolini and the Maserati Quattroporte Evo, fielded by Swiss Team, has won the second race in the International Superstars Series at Vallelunga to take the title.

This year, the technical side of its operations has been overseen by Giuseppe Angiulli, with the support of Maserati Corse, led by Maurizio Leschiutta.

In the race, Bertolini grabbed pole position and led from the very start, just as he did first time round (where he also pocketed the fastest lap). This time, it was only on the last lap that Gianni Morbidelli’s Audi RS4, from Audi Sport Italia, managed to pull into his slipstream. So, in all, Maserati’s official driver claimed seven wins in sixteen races this season.

Bertolini’s team mate, Pier Guidi, made sure that Maserati brought home a brilliant one-two in Race 1. He finished on the podium in Race 2 after taking second spot at the start before being edged out by Gianni Morbidelli and Massimo Pigoli, in the Romeo Ferraris Mercedes C63 AMG. Pier Guidi then hit back to claim a slot on the podium towards the end of the race.

In taking the title, Bertolini has managed to achieve something that seemed near impossible at the start of the weekend. Then, he sat 20 points off leader Luigi Ferrara and the Caal Racing Mercedes C63 AMG and 9 points off Alberto Cerqui’s official BMW M3 E92, from BMW Italia. This state of play came after a Mugello weekend where Bertolini suffered incredible bad luck and failed to register any points at all.

There were 43 points to play for at Vallelunga: 20 for a race win, 1 for taking pole and 1 for each fastest lap. Maserati’s official driver amassed 42 points and ends the season with a 13 point advantage over Ferrara and 15 over Cerqui. The point that slipped through the net was because he had a 30kg weight handicap assigned after winning Race 1. This meant that he lapped at 4-5 tenths slower per lap and opted to save the tyres by not pushing too hard.

This was Bertolini’s fifth international title and the fourth consecutive one. It comes after his success in the 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2010 FIA GT championship driving the Maserati MC12. For Maserati, it is the fourteenth trophy, counting Drivers, Team and Manufacturers crowns, since it started competing again in 2004. For Swiss Team, it is their first win in the International Superstars Series, one the squad first entered in 2009. The squad raced the first two seasons on its own, led by Guido Bonfiglio, but has been able to count on the support of Maserati Corse this time round.

The triumph of Bertolini, Maserati and Swiss Team comes at the end of a trying season. This was Bertolini’s first in the International Superstars Series. He had to miss a race at Monza when he punctured and picked up very few points at Portimao with tyre trouble. His points haul at Misano was also miserly after another driver collided with him and he got nothing from Mugello after suffering terrible luck.

Even though Bertolini came out on top, the champagne is still on ice following an appeal put in by Ferrara. After race officials threw out his initial questioning of the conformity of Bertolini’s Quattroporte Evo to the regulations, the Caal Racing driver decided to take things a step further and appeal. A date has still to be set for the hearing and so the final race order and eventual destination of the title is uncertain.

It seems that Ferrara’s is an extreme bid to overturn the verdict from the track after he put in a less-than-sparkling performance after suffering engine problems in qualifying. He came sixth in Race 1, thanks to Pigoli being relegated a position, and was again off the pace in Race 2, where he was also a little too ‘involved’ in a duel with another driver.

Race 1: A Maserati one-two

The second objective set for the eighth and final round of the International Superstars Series has been met. Racing at Vallelunga, Andrea Bertolini and his Maserati Quattroporte Evo, fielded by Swiss Team, dominated Race 1 from start to finish. Bertolini also claimed the fastest lap time (1'40"785) after topping the timesheet in free practice and taking pole position in qualifying.

Just 3"992 behind came Bertolini’s team mate, Alessandro Pier Guidi. Pier Guidi started from third but gained a place at the very start.

The two Quattroporte Evo drivers were always in first and second and never more than 4” apart. Their supremacy was never in doubt with third and fourth going to Alberto Cerqui and Thomas Biagi, respectively, in the official BMW Italia BMW M3 E92s.

With this result, Bertolini has pocketed 21 points and has made up 16 on championship leader Luigi Ferrara’s Caal Racing Mercedes C63 AMG, who came in sixth. The Maserati driver now sits on 158 points. He is just 4 off Ferrara, his main title rival, and in second place overall. In third is Alberto Cerqui (157 points) with Thomas Biagi lying fourth on 146.

Two of the six points picked up by Ferrara were awarded after the race when Massimo Pigoli and his Romeo Ferraris Mercedes C63 AMG were penalised by officials. At the end of a tight battle, Pigoli and Ferrara placed sixth and seventh, respectively, but race officials decided that the Romeo Ferraris driver had pushed that little bit too hard and slapped him with a controversial 3” penalty. This was enough to see him relegated to a spot behind the Caal Racing driver.

Still, Bertolini is back in the title race with a bang. Things are looking up after his bad luck in the last round at Mugello where he failed to pick up a point. Now the Maserati driver can make his title bid in the second race, one where Pier Guidi will again be crucial as he will have to occupy a slot between Bertolini and his rivals.

In the final stages of the championship where four drivers are still in with a chance, the two Quattroporte Evo guys will be on pole and third. They are confident but it will be a bit tougher to bring home the title with Bertolini assigned a 30kg weight handicap and Pier Guidi 40kg. Cerqui will be carrying 60kg and Biagi just 10kg but the BMW M3 E92s have a minimum championship weight that is 90kg lower than the Quattroporte Evos’.