Ferrari Edges Maserati Pair at Monza

Pedro Lamy and Gabriele Gardel have taken a tight victory for Ferrari in the opening round of the FIA GT Championship, winning by less than a second at Monza

The Ferrari 550 Maranello pair finished just 0.921 seconds ahead of Michael Bartels and Timo Scheider in the Maserati MC12, who were themselves just half a second ahead of teammates Fabio Babini and Thomas Biagi.

Phillipe Peter led the pack from pole, ending the first lap 1.5 seconds ahead of Bartels, while Mike Rockenfeller claimed the GT2 lead from Tim Sugden. Peter controlled the lead of the race comfortably while Bartels, Christophe Bouchut, Babini and Andrea Bertolini had a fierce battle behind for second.

The first pitstops started on lap 26 when the Peter came with Maserati running in the first four positions. After the stops shook out Peter easily held onto the lead, ahead of a fast stopping Lamy and Bouchut, with the GT2 running order unchanged.

On lap 38 an unfortunate Bouchut slowed dramatically, eventually stopping on track with front suspension damage, changing the top three order to Maserati-Ferrari-Corvette, with the order unchanged as the second round of pitstops started on lap 47 when Peter handed over to co-driver Buncombe.

With all of the stops completed Buncombe reclaimed the lead on lap 61 from Bartels in the sister Maserati and Anthony Kumpen in the fast rising Corvette, while further back Emmanuel Collard had reclaimed the GT2 lead from Rockenfeller.

Six laps later Bartels claimed the lead as Buncombe pitted again while Melo's Ferrari was spun at the first chicane in a collision with Babini's Maserati before returning to the pits and retirement, prompting the stewards to announce an investigation into the incident.

With just fifty minutes remaining Bartels led by just three seconds from the Corvette of Kumpen, who was himself three seconds ahead of Babini, with Lamy a further 0.4 seconds behind in the Ferrari.

By lap 73 the leaders were nose to tail, with just 0.3 seconds between the Maserati and Corvette. Babini was brought into the pits three laps later for a drive through penalty, with the new leading trio separated by just over one second on track.

On lap 78 the Corvette suffered a heartbreaking engine problem, with smoke steaming out of the car as Kumpen limped back to the pits and retirement. Lamy moved up onto Bartels rear, and the pair ran side by side and swapped paint for a few laps before the Ferrari finally nosed ahead on lap 82.

Lamy pushed the lead out for a few laps, pulling as far out as three seconds ahead before Bartels pushed back. On the last lap there was little between the pair, while all of the laps scrapping between the pair allowed Babini to close up once again.

However, the ex-Formula One driver had enough in his pocket and claimed a hugely entertaining season opener for Larbre Competition ahead of the fast charging Maserati pair, while Rockenfeller claimed the GT2 win by two seconds over Collard.

2005 FIA GT Championship, Monza - Race Classification
Pos Cl   Drivers                     Car                     Time        Laps    Gap
 1. GT1  Lamy/Gardel                 Ferrari 550 Maranello   2:40:30.881  87          
 2. GT1  Bartels/Scheider            Maserati MC12 GT1       2:40:31.802  87  + 0.921 
 3. GT1  Babini/Biagi                Maserati MC12 GT1       2:40:32.337  87  + 1.456 
 4. GT1  Peter/Buncombe/Rusinov      Maserati MC12 GT1       2:40:41.479  86  + 1 lap 
 5. GT1  Bertolini/Wendlinger        Maserati MC12 GT1       2:40:35.993  84  + 3 laps
 6. GT1  Bryner/Calderari/Zacchia    Ferrari 550 Maranello   2:40:53.555  84  + 3 laps
 7. GT2  Lieb/Rockenfeller           Porsche 996 GT3 RSR     2:41:41.849  84  + 3 laps
 8. GT2  Collard/Sugden              Porsche 996 GT3 RSR     2:41:43.931  84  + 3 laps
 9. GT1  Keen/Halliday               Lister Storm GT         2:41:56.659  83  + 4 laps
10. GT1  Ruberti/Camathias           Saleen S7 R             2:40:50.335  82  + 5 laps
11. GT2  Moccia/Busnelli             Porsche 996 GT3 RSR     2:41:16.977  82  + 5 laps
12. GT1  Stanco/Janus                Saleen S7 R             2:42:43.097  80  + 7 laps
13. GT2  Racz/Venc                   Porsche 996 GT3 RS      2:41:19.868  79  + 8 laps
14. GT1  Longin/Kumpen/Hezemans      Corvette C5R            2:24:23.492  78  + 9 laps
15. GT1  Pickering/Haupt             Saleen S7 R             2:39:49.725  78  + 9 laps
16. GT2  Kaufmann/Jurasz             Porsche 996 GT3 RS      2:41:53.149  77  +10 laps
17. GT1  Verdon-Roe/Becker           Saleen S7 R             2:13:38.543  70  +17 laps
18. GT2  Ried/Ried                   Porsche 996 GT3 RS      2:41:11.687  68  +19 laps
19. GT1  Melo/Belloc                 Ferrari 575 Maranello   2:07:35.315  67  +20 laps

Not Classified
    G2   Balfe/Derbyshire            Mosler MT900R           2:42:24.389  59   N.C.F.
    GT2  Castro/Premoli/Barbaro      Porsche 996 GT3 RSR     1:50:01.392  53   D.N.F.
    GT2  Vonka/Amaduzzi              Porsche 996 GT3 RS      1:24:05.449  40   D.N.F.
    GT1  Bouchut/Fomenko/Vasiliev    Ferrari 550 Maranello   1:08:21.930  37   D.N.F.
    GT1  Deletraz/Piccini            Ferrari 575 Maranello   1:21:18.166  37   D.N.F.
    GT1  Lechner/Konrad              Saleen S7 R             1:00:19.876  32   D.N.F.
    GT1  Kox/Simon                   Lamborghini Murcielago    57:19.811  28   D.N.F.
    GT2  MacHanek/Studenic           Porsche 996 GT3 RSR       47:13.605  24   D.N.F.
    GT2  Panzavuota/Taylor/Hauraney  Porsche 996 GT3 RSR       46:37.814  23   D.N.F.

Fastest Lap                  
    GT1  Babini/Biagi                Maserati MC12 GT1          1:46.077   6
    GT2  Collard/Sugden              Porsche 996 GT3 RSR        1:51.541  58
    G2   Balfe/Derbyshire            Mosler MT900R              1:55.142   9
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