The no.1 Vitaphone Racing Maserati will start the Qualifying Race of the FIA GT1 World Championship from pole later this (Saturday) afternoon after driver Andrea Bertolini put the car fastest in the knock-out qualifying session at Paul Ricard.
Bertolini and teammate Michael Bartels were never outside the top five as they progressed through the first two segments of qualifying and into the final part, where the fastest seven fight for pole position, the Maserati MC12 crew taking their second pole of the season, having also triumphed the previous round at Brno.
“The session was good. The balance of the car was good yesterday in the beginning of the free practice as well. We are really happy. Also for the race, the tyre degradation will be important,” said Bertolini.
“The qualifying was good. The average of the lap time was 4.1, 4.2, like all the cars in the second lap in Q3, they tried to do a maximum speed, maybe they cut a part of the track. I don't know. The car was good, everything was perfect. We are here. We did 2 pole positions, but at the same time, the final result is really important,” he added referring to the disappointment of Brno, where pole was only converted into a fifth place in Championship Race.
The Maserati will start along side one of the Reiter Lamborghini's that impressed on Friday, the car of Peter Kox and Christopher Haase starting second, though Kox's final effort was more than half a second adrift of the fastest time. Their teammates – Ricardo Zonta and Rafael Daniel who topped the pre-qualifying session yesterday could only manage 12th on the grid today.
Another of the series' form teams – Sumo Power GT will line up for the hour long in third and fifth, the no.23 Krumm/Dumbreck three tenths faster than the Warren Hughes and Jamie Campbell-Walter staffed sister car, the tow Nissan GT-Rs split by the Mad Croc Corvette of Mike Hezemans and Xavier Maassen – Hezemans still on secondment from Phoenix/Carsport – their second entry still missing following the devastating fire at Silverstone.
The top seven was rounded out by the two All-inkl.com Lamborghinis – enjoying by far their best weekend of the season so far.
The championship leaders Thomas Mutsch and Romain Grosjean – Grosjean back from last weekend's Auto GP dalliance – struggled once more, failing to make it out of the second part of qualifying. They will start the race from 15th, one place behind their Matech Competition teammates Olivier Panis bolstering the Swiss squad, alongside Natacha Gachnang in her first World Championship race since breaking her leg in Abu Dhabi.