Vitaphone dominates at Ricard

Vitaphone Maserati duo Michael Bartels and Andrea Bertolini cruised to victory in the qualifying race for this weekend's FIA GT1 World Championship event at Paul Ricard

Vitaphone dominates at Ricard

Bartels failed to convert Bertolini's pole into the race lead, losing out to Reiter Lamborghini driver Christopher Haase. The 22-year-old German kept the Murcielago R-SV in front for eight and a half laps before his veteran compatriot outbraked him for the lead into the chicane on the long Mistral Straight.

The Maserati was then able to pull away from the opposition, despite the addition of 20kg of ballast for this race under the so-called Balance of Performance regulations. Bartels was able to pull out a lead of seven seconds over his nearest pursuer before stopping shortly before half distance in the one-hour race.

Bertolini found himself with an 11s lead over Haase's team-mate, Dutchman Peter Kox, after the pitstop sequence was complete and was able to control the gap to the Lamborghini driver for the remainder of the race.

"It was a fantastic and fair battle," said Bartels. "I decided to wait for my chance and I culd see that his tyres were degrading a bit more than mind. We had a good pitstop and then Berto did a good job to bring the car home."

Third place went to the Sumo Power Nissan GT-R driven by Jamie Campbell-Walter and Warren Hughes. Campbell-Walter got the car up to third before the pitstops began and then Hughes, after losing time in the pits when he inadvertently knocked the masterswitch off, closed the gap on the Mad-Croc Racing Chevrolet driven by Mike Hezemans to take the final podium spot with four laps to go.

Pos Drivers Team Car Time/Gap 1. Bertolini/Bartels Vitaphone Maserati 1h00m31.919s 2. Kox/Haase Reiter Lamborghini + 5.569s 3. Hughes/Campbell-Walter Sumo Power Nissan + 7.798s 4. Hezemans/Maassen Mad-Croc Corvette + 10.639s 5. Bernoldi/Ramos Vitaphone Maserati + 12.821s 6. Piccini/Hennerici Phoenix Corvette + 16.527s 7. Grosjean/Mutsch Matech Ford + 31.121s 8. Heger/Margaritis Triple H Maserati + 35.443s 9. Krumm/Dumbreck Sumo Power Nissan + 37.236s 10. Turner/Enge Young Driver Aston Martin + 45.843s 11. Makowiecki/Accary Hexis Aston Martin + 46.941s 12. Ara/Nilsson Swiss Nissan + 50.362s 13. Zonta/Daniel Reiter Lamborghini + 59.155s 14. Bobbi/Longin Triple H Maserati + 1m03.030s 15. Schwager/Pastorelli Munnich Lamborghini + 1m12.000s 16. Bouchut/Basseng Munnich Lamborghini + 1m13.153s 17. Hirschi/Piccione Hexis Aston Martin + 1m20.561s 18. Panis/Gachnang Matech Ford + 1m43.947s 19. Gavin/Kuismanen Mad-Croc Corvette + 1m52.246s 20. Leinders/Martin Marc VDS Ford GT + 2m18.943s 21. Wendlinger/Moser Swiss Nissan + 1 lap 22. Palttala/Kuppens Marc VDS Ford GT + 1 lap Retirements: Nygaard/Mucke Young Driver Aston Martin 5 laps 
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Bertolini puts Maserati on pole

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