Sebring: Maserati press conference highlights

MASERATI TRIO GROWING ACCUSTOMED TO FLORIDA Sebring, Fla. - Their names may not be as recognizable as Fellows, O'Connell, Brabham, Gavin or Beretta in the American Le Mans Series' GT1 class. But the trio of drivers piloting the No. 35 Maserati...

MASERATI TRIO GROWING ACCUSTOMED TO FLORIDA

Sebring, Fla. - Their names may not be as recognizable as Fellows, O'Connell, Brabham, Gavin or Beretta in the American Le Mans Series' GT1 class. But the trio of drivers piloting the No. 35 Maserati MC12 entry in Saturday's Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring hope to show they are worthy of competing in the longest-running sports car race in America.

Italians Andrea Bertolini, Fabio Babini and Fabrizio De Simone each have experience in the FIA GT series. In addition, De Simone raced at last year's Petit Le Mans and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, and Babini placed third in the 2002 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring driving a Pirelli Porsche 911 GT3 RS.

"It's a quite different track compared to the ones we have in Europe," said Simone. "The differences are mainly in the bumps and in the fast corners, especially Turn 1 and Turn 17. The different asphalts on this track.these are the main things...they are big differences."

The Maserati MC12 was 19th overall and ninth in class during Wednesday's morning practice session. It improved to 16th overall and eighth in the GT1 class during the afternoon with a fast lap of 2:00.381 (110.649 mph).

"We have been testing since Monday until today," commented De Simone. "We are still working to get our setup for our car. We did all we could do."

The team has one more practice session Thursday morning to tweak the car. Qualifying is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. EST.

"It's not easy to drive here for the cars are all different," said Babini. "It's not easy for the bumps on the tracks. But I'm excited to drive at Sebring. American racing is very spirited racing."

"Aston Martin is very fast and so is Corvette," said Bertolini. "I hope for the race that our car is very consistent. At the moment, the car is not easy because we don't have more time. We have a short time to practice."

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Series ALMS
Drivers Fabio Babini , Andrea Bertolini