The No. 35 Maserati MC12 will start sixth on the GT1 grid for the final race in the 2005 American Le Mans Series, set for Saturday afternoon at Laguna Seca Raceway. Maserati factory driver Andrea Bertolini, who shares driving duty in the Maserati with Fabrizio de Simone, qualified in one minute 22.008 seconds on the 2.238-mile road course. He said the track's low grip was exacerbated by sand and gravel resulting from several off- track excursions by competitors. Race officials have placed cones inside some of the corners to delineate the track line for the race.
Bertolini also set the team's fastest lap during the Thursday evening practice, the first of three practice sessions before qualifying on Friday. The evening practice helped the team prepare for the four-hour race on Saturday, in which the final minutes will be run after dark.
Maserati competes with an MC12 in compliance with the rules of IMSA and matches FIA GT Championship GT1 specifications. The team will not score points in the American Le Mans Series championship.
Andrea Bertolini: "It's difficult because all yesterday and today, I didn't have grip. It's a very low level of grip and very difficult for us. We worked a lot on the balance of the car because yesterday and this morning we had a lot of understeer. The car now is balanced, but I am not very confident for the race. I think it will be a very strange race with a lot of safety cars [caution periods] because the sand and gravel are unbelievable. This is not good for us because it takes too long for our tires to warm up after a restart."
Fabrizio de Simone: "In night practice, it was a bit hard to bring the tires to temperature and the track was really, really dirty the last part of the practice. There was sand everywhere; it was really awful. With the cones they put inside the corners, I hope it will be better. It's also quite dark in many points."
The participation of Maserati in the ALMS has been made possible thanks to the fundamental cooperation of important partners, including Pirelli and team Risi Competizione, that support Maserati logistically. The MC12 is using Pirelli Racing P Zero tires, developed in 2004 and currently used on an exclusive basis in the FIA GT Championship. The successful cooperation between Maserati and Pirelli continues in the ALMS.