The European season over the FIA GT1 World Championship ends its season in South America. The championship's inaugural season ends in Argentina but first, this weekend, the field will race around Interlagos.
Vitaphone Maserati drivers Andrea Bertolini and Michael Bartels lead the championship, taking hold in the points standings over the last two races in Europe on Portugal and Spain. The pair have a 35-point lead at the top of the drivers' championship meaning they could clinch the title this weekend, needing only to take a 33-marker advantage to San Luis to render the final round a dead rubber in terms of the championship.
However, the pair will again face tough competition from the rest of the field in the series.
The previous race at the Circuit de Navarra in Spain saw Reiter Engineering's Lamborghinis take a second win of the year – Frank Kechele and Ricardo Zonta taking the victory in the eighth round of the championship to add to their success at Spa in July. The quartet of Murcielagos – two from Reiter and two from the Munnich Motorsport run all-inkl.com squad could easily provide the winners in Brazil after showing surging form over the summer.
However, the Young Driver AMR will be looking to add to Darren Turner and Tomas Enge's win at the Nurburgring. The other team to have won this year still provide the closest opponent to Bertolini and Bartels championship ambitions.
Wins in the season opener at Abu Dhabi and at Brno have propelled Thomas Mutsch into third in the championship points. However, he and the rest of the Matech Competition Ford GT, have struggled recently – failing to score points in Spain after an over ambitious over-taking move saw Mutsch climb the back of a Corvette before retiring. However, the car Mutsch shares with Richard Westbrook will run minus the 30kg of ballast they carried in Spain – the twisting switchbacks of the middle part of the Interlagos lap should, if previous form is taken as a guide, suit the nimble Ford compared to the hulking Maserati MC12.
“Winning the drivers' championship at Interlagos will be difficult for Michael and myself because of our car weight,” Bertolini concurs. “The Ford GT's have a lighter car than us and I think that Thomas' car will suit the circuit's long straights and elevation changes better than that of the Maserati MC12. I really hope Vitaphone Racing Maserati can win the teams' championship, if not in Brazil then in Argentina a week later. The whole team has worked really hard to fight the very strong battles from the other teams and drivers and they deserve the title this year.”
The Fords prowess in the corners may not be enough to contend for the win. Ricardo Zonta, one of two Brazilians to race in their home nation, places greater importance, especially where overtaking is concerned, on the pair of long straights – where the Fords have been lacking for much of the year.
You can keep up with all the action from the championship on www.gt1world.com with live online coverage of the time trial qualifying as well as the Qualifying and Championship Races of the ninth round of the championship.