Maserati Dominate GT Monza Qualifying

Having only confirmed their entry to the 2005 FIA GT Championship last month, Maserati began the season in style, dominating both qualifying sessions in Monza, ahead of the first round of the season

Maserati Dominate GT Monza Qualifying

The day also saw Austrian Philippe Peter claim his first GT pole position, after opting to run his first qualifying fast lap in the opening minutes of the morning session - a decision that proved wise, as soon after rain began to fall, and only became stronger in the afternoon session. Peter's fastest time from the morning became, therefore, the overall fastest lap of both sessions.

"It's my first pole position in the FIA GT and I am pretty happy," Peter said. "The programme for the car came together very late. Maserati has given us a car which has been great from the beginning. There was no shake-down for the car before we got here, so it's quite a surprise."

Peter will share his number 16 MC12 with Briton Chris Buncombe and Russian Roman Rusinov. And, alongside the JMB trio on pole starts another MC12 - the Vitaphone duo of Michael Bartels, of Germany, and Timo Scheider, of Austria.

"I am very happy with second position," Bartels commented. "We are on the right way, and in these conditions anything can happen. I think it is quite a good base for the race tomorrow."

But not all went smoothly for Maserati today. The second car of JMB Racing, shared by Andrea Bertolini and Karl Wendlinger, suffered malfunction in the traction control system in the morning, but it did not stop Bertolini from setting the fourth fastest time, which places him and Wendlinger, on the second row.

More problems hampered the pairing of Fabio Babini and Thomas Biagi, in the second Vitaphone Maserati, as they suffered from electric problems in morning practice. Neverthesss, the pair were quickest in the second qualifying session, and ended sixth fastest overall.

In the GT2 class, Tim Sugden claimed pole position in the Porsche 996 GT3 RSR that he shares with Frenchman Emmanuel Collard.

"It is still very early days, but getting pole is great," Sugden said. "Obviously, in a three-hour race it doesn't really matter where we are, but we are very happy."

Perhaps the most surprising result of the day came from Balfe Motorsport, who make their first appearence in the FIA GT. The Molser MT400, entered by Balfe, managed to qualify in third in the GT2 class, right behind the Gruppe M Porsche.

"We're incredibly pleased to be in this position in only our first qualifying performance," said Shaun Balfe later. "We are definitely making progress. We realised at the test day how much hard work we have to put in, so third place is a nice reward. My goal is to see the end of the race after the three hours, but I think the weather will be very difficult."

 Pos GT Drivers Car Best Time* Laps** 1. 1 Peter/Buncombe/Rusinov Maserati MC12 GT1 1:45.699 28 2. 1 Bartels/Scheider Maserati MC12 GT1 1:45.807 20 3. 1 Bouchut/Fomenko/Vasiliev Ferrari 550 Maranello 1:45.881 23 4. 1 Bertolini/Wendlinger Maserati MC12 GT1 1:46.041 24 5. 1 Lamy/Gardel Ferrari 550 Maranello 1:46.372 22 6. 1 Babini/Biagi Maserati MC12 GT1 1:46.467 29 7. 1 Kox/Simon Lamborghini Murcielago 1:46.905 26 8. 1 Longin/Kumpen/Hezemans Corvette C5R 1:47.800 28 9. 1 Melo/Belloc Ferrari 575 Maranello 1:48.022 20 10. 1 Ruberti/Camathias Saleen S7 R 1:48.307 22 11. 1 Lechner Jr/Lechner/Konrad Saleen S7 R 1:48.416 23 12. 1 Bryner/Calderari/Zacchia Ferrari 550 Maranello 1:48.570 22 13. 1 Deletraz/Piccini Ferrari 575 Maranello 1:49.143 30 14. 1 Verdon-Roe/Becker Saleen S7 R 1:50.356 17 15. 1 Keen/Halliday Lister Storm GT 1:50.815 29 16. 2 Collard/Sugden Porsche 996 GT3 RSR 1:51.412 19 17. 2 Lieb/Rockenfeller Porsche 996 GT3 RSR 1:51.731 14 18. 2 Balfe/Derbyshire Mosler MT900R 1:53.775 18 19. 1 Stanco/Janus Saleen S7 R 1:53.788 26 20. 2 Moccia/Busnelli Porsche 996 GT3 RSR 1:53.882 29 21. 2 Kaufmann/Jurasz Porsche 996 GT3 RS 1:54.141 28 22. 1 Pickering/Haupt Saleen S7 R 1:54.466 18 23. 2 MacHanek/Studenic Porsche 996 GT3 RSR 1:54.553 20 24. 2 Racz/Venc Porsche 996 GT3 RS 1:56.307 16 25. 2 Castro/Premoli/Barbaro Porsche 996 GT3 RSR 1:57.056 32 26. 2 Ried/Ried Porsche 996 GT3 RS 1:58.618 13 27. 2 Panzavuota/Taylor/Hauraney Porsche 996 GT3 RSR 1:59.179 12 28. 2 Vonka/Amaduzzi Porsche 996 GT3 RS 2:01.214 11 * Best qualifying time from both qualifying sessions ** Combined total laps run in first and second qualifying sessions 
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