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Vitaphone charge to Zolder win

Andrea Bertolini and Michael Bartels took an extraordinary victory in the penultimate round of the FIA GT Championship at Zolder, as they further strengthened their hold at the top of the drivers' standings in GT1

A combination of an excellent mid-race stint from Bartels, and a late (and swift) second pitstop allowed the Vitaphone Maserati duo to jump title rivals Mike Hezemans and Fabrizio Gollin in the pits, having languished in sixth place in the early laps.

It was a frustrating turn of events for the Phoenix Carsport Corvette team, who at one stage were looking at a one-two finish, but instead had to settle for a two-five result.

Marcel Fassler and Jean-Denis Deletraz, in the sister C6-R, fell to fifth having succumbed to the recovering JetAlliance Aston Martin of Karl Wendlinger, and then Allan Simonsen's Gigawave Aston in the final stint.

Indeed, the JetAlliance car should probably have won the race in the hands of Wendlinger and Ryan Sharp.

Dominant from the start, the former Formula One driver brought the car in for its first pitstop with a five second advantage over Hezemans, while the rest of the field battled its way past Xavier Maassen in the Selleslagh Corvette - who promptly retired the over-heating C6-R.

Shortly after the stops however, Sharp came into the Villeneuve chicane too hot on cold tyres and kissed the tyre wall on the exit. This was enough to drop the JetAlliance Aston back into the pack - prompting an inspired fightback drive from him and Wendlinger.

In the end though they only just held on to third as Simonsen, whose pole position was taken away through a penalty, closed in on the Austrian.

The Dane nearly passed Wendlinger at the outside of the second chicane on the final lap, but instead ran out of road and ran across the gravel.

Sixth was Xandi Negrao and Miguel Ramos in the second Vitaphone Maserati, just ahead of Greg Franchi and Vincent Vosse in the Larbre Saleen.

Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander finally clinched the GT2 drivers' title with an ultimately dominant class victory for AF Corse.

The Italian, along with Toni Villander, tracked the ProSpeed Porsche of Richard Westbrook early on, after the pole-sitting Rob Bell and Thomas Biagi collided at the first corner.

Then having moved ahead during the first round of pitstops, Bruni was relieved of the pressure from Westbrook's co-driver Emmanuel Collard when Jamie Davies rammed the 997 under braking for the final corner.

The incident, which happened while both were being lapped by a Maserati, cost Collard about 30 seconds in recovery time, and Davies and Fabio Babini a 10-second penalty.

All this allowed Matteo Malucelli and Paolo Ruberti to stealthily cruise up to second place in their BMS Scuderia Ferrari F430 ahead of Marc Lieb and Marcus Paltalla in the first of the ProSpeed Porsches.

Westbrook would eventually finish fourth in the second 997.

Pos  Cl   Drivers              Car                       Time
 1.  GT1  Bertolini/Bartels    Maserati MC 12            2:00:47.551
 2.  GT1  Hezemans/Gollin      Corvette Z06                +   7.152
 3.  GT1  Wendlinger/Sharp     Aston Martin DB9            +  10.179
 4.  GT1  Simonsen/Peter       Aston Martin DB9            +  10.539
 5.  GT1  Fassler/Deletraz     Corvette Z06                +  29.230
 6.  GT1  Negrao/Ramos         Maserati MC 12              +  45.041
 7.  GT1  Franchi/Vosse        Saleen S7                   +  45.699
 8.  GT1  Bobbi/Lamy           Maserati MC 12              +   1 lap
 9.  GT2  Bruni/Vilander       Ferrari F430                +  3 laps
10.  GT2  Malucelli/Ruberti    Ferrari F430                +  3 laps
11.  GT2  Lieb/Palttala        Porsche 911 GT3 RS (997)    +  3 laps
12.  GT2  Westbrook/Collard    Porsche 911 GT3 RS (997)    +  3 laps
13.  GT2  Russo/Perez Companc  Ferrari F430                +  4 laps
14.  GT2  Mullen/Sutton        Ferrari F430                +  4 laps
15.  GT2  Camathias/Balbiani   Ferrari F430                +  4 laps
16.  G2   Enge/Mucke           Aston Martin Vantage V8     +  4 laps
17.  G2   Leinders/Kuppens     Gillet Vertigo              +  6 laps
18.  GT2  Babini/Davies        Ferrari F430                + 17 laps
19.  GT1  Lopez/Basso          Ferrari 550 Maranello       + 28 laps
20.  GT2  Zani/Moser           Ferrari F430                + 37 laps
21.  GT1  Kumpen/Longin        Saleen S7                   + 44 laps
22.  GT1  Maassen/Bouchut      Corvette Z06                + 50 laps
23.  GT2  Biagi/Montanari      Ferrari F430                + 80 laps
24.  GT2  Bell/Kirkaldy        Ferrari F430                + 80 laps

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