The No. 35 Maserati MC12 would have finished on the GT1 podium had the final 2005 American Le Mans Series race run the usual two-hour 45-minute length. But the season finale was a four-hour event and trouble hit the Maserati at 2h47, forcing an early retirement from the race.
Andrea Bertolini started the race from sixth on the GT1 grid and drove a strong stint, moving up to fourth before handing off to Fabrizio de Simone at 1h9. Quick driving, timely pit strategy and some luck with caution periods put de Simone into the class lead just past the two-hour mark of the race. He led for 17 minutes before dropping back as his tires, which hadn't been changed on the previous pit stop, started to wear.
A competitor pass clipped the Maserati, bending the right-rear toe link. The crew replaced it and sent Bertolini back on track. Riding on cold tires, he locked up the wheels, missed the apex of the Corkscrew turn and hit the curb. The impact broke the car's front splitter and radiator, taking it out of the race. It was the first time the car did not finish a race during the 10-race season.
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.
Giorgio Ascanelli, Maserati Corse technical director: "Andrea was driving very strongly - I think the third-fastest [GT1] lap at that point was his. The pit strategy worked well because we put Fabrizio in the lead with a good fuel advantage. The season has been tremendous, so I'm disappointed we didn't finish 10 races of 10. The car was capable of finishing 10 races of 10. We learned a lot during the season. It's a pity we didn't finish on a high note."
Andrea Bertolini: "Fabrizio came in because he had a problem with the rear suspension. They checked and they thought everything was okay, but the next lap, I had the same problem. They repaired it and I went back out on cold tires, and in the Corkscrew, I locked the wheels. The curb is very high and I caught the splitter in front and broke the radiator. I'm very disappointed because this race was good for us."
Fabrizio de Simone: "I was leading for a few laps, but my grip level was going down. I tried to have a good and hard fight with the Corvette, the Saleen and the Aston. [Aston driver David] Brabham tried to pass me on the outside line in turn three, but he couldn't, so I held my line and I touched him. Two laps later he came in strong and he hit my rear right wheel. That's all."
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.