BARTELS AND BERTOLINI ARE THE 2006 GT1 DRIVERS CHAMPIONS For the past three years, the GT1 Drivers Champions have all driven Ferrari 550 Maranello cars. But for 2006, the Champions will have driven a Maserati MC 12. A close season-long fight, ...
BARTELS AND BERTOLINI ARE THE 2006 GT1 DRIVERS CHAMPIONS
For the past three years, the GT1 Drivers Champions have all driven Ferrari 550 Maranello cars. But for 2006, the Champions will have driven a Maserati MC 12. A close season-long fight, between the nr 1 Vitaphone Maserati, the nr 5 Phoenix Racing Aston Martin DBR9 and the nr9 Zakspeed Saleen S7 finally came to an end today, when the nr 5 Phoenix car retired in the pits and the nr 9 Saleen, long-time race leader, fell back after a brake disc caught fire.
This left the crew of the nr 1 car, who already had a good lead of nine points, to come home second and claim the title with a lead of 14 points over nearest rival Sascha Bert.
"We couldn't have finished in a better way," Michael Bartels explained. "It has been a very hard season. Everyone was going completely unto the limit today, to fight for success. In the end of the day, it is a great result for the whole season, with our partners Pirelli and Maserati, with the driver line-up, with the still young Vitaphone team, of which I am very proud." As for Bertolini, who was with the Maserati project from the start, he was delighted to claim the title at home. "This is a very special event for me, I will always remember today. I would like to thank all the Vitaphone team and the drivers, and special thanks to Pirelli, who worked very, very hard all season."
He also thanked his secret weapon and lucky charm, his wife, saying that she always brought him good luck.
BOBBI AND MELO CLAIM THE 2006 GT2 DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP
Sixth at the chequered flag, and the last classified car in GT2 was the nr 58 AF Corse Ferrari of Bobbi and Melo, after an early race collision with the Vertigo saw the car come in for a long stop to repair a puncture and the radiator. It looked as if the title fight would go on to Dubai, but when the nr 59 was excluded, the drivers of the nr 58 had an unreachable lead in the GT2 Drivers Championship. With two wins this season, in Silverstone and Dijon, as well as second-place finishes at Spa, Mugello and Budapest, Bobbi and Melo have scored points in every round. Although this is a first title for Jaime Melo of Brazil, it is Matteo Bobbi's second victory, after he claimed the FIA GT1 Championship in 2003, with BMS Scuderia Italia. This feat was previously achieved by Christophe Bouchut, who won in N-GT in 2000, and then in GT in 2001. Olivier Beretta won in GT2 in 1998 and then overall in 1999, but with the same car and in effectively the same category.
"It has been a very emotional day," Bobbi said. "First of all Jaime had problems at the start of the race, and we lost a lot of points. I was very frustrated when I left the track. But then I had a phone call from Jaime who told me that the nr 59 had been excluded and we had won the title. It might not be the best way to conclude the battle, but the Championship is the Championship, and I am very glad to have another one in my pocket. Now we can go to Dubai with no pressure. I think the team, Jaime and I have done an unbelievable job this year."
ASTON MARTIN CLAIMS THE GT1 MANUFACTURERS CUP
Ferrari, claiming all but one win in the GT2 category to date, had already secured the GT2 Manufacturers Cup two races ago. In Adria, fourth and fifth places for the Aston Martin Racing BMS team, combined with all the good results of the year, especially Phoenix's magnificent performance in the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa, and Race Alliance's first Aston Martin win in Mugello, allowed the British manufacturer to claim the 2006 GT1 Manufacturers Cup. Maserati, the 2005 winners, will finish second, while Saleen and Corvette are currently tied on third place. The British manufacturer made its FIA GT debut in 2005, winning the Royal Automobile Club Tourist Trophy in Silverstone on its debut, although as a factory entry, it did not score points. The first points for the car came in Bahrain 2005, when Christophe Bouchut and Antonio Garcia were victorious in the Russian Age Racing car, bearing the livery of Aston Martin Middle East. This year, six DBR9 cars took part in the first round, with four competing all season.