The race

Brno - cz

Second place for Bertolini / Wendlinger at Brno

Brno - The fifth FIA GT championship race saw Maserati consolidate its lead in the Constructors' Cup and the team championship.

Vitaphone Racing Team and JMB Racing came home respectively first and second, respectively. The race was an eventful and demanding one owing to the rain that began to fall forty five minutes after the start and which lasted until close to the end.

The two Maserati teams were not particularly lucky during the weekend. Two unplanned stops cost the number 9 and 16 MC12 the chance of making the podium. The number 10 MC12 was clipped by another car and forced to retire.

A few curves after the start, Kumpen's Corvette mounted the kerb and went into a spin. Babini, fourth at that stage, was run into by Kox's Lamborghini and then Piccini's 575 in trying to avoid him. Babini managed to make it back to the pits and the team attempted to patch up the car but their efforts were in vain.

Right from the start it was pole man Philippe Peter to hold the lead. In second was Timo Scheider in the first of the Vitaphone Racing Team cars. The other MC12, with Andrea Bertolini and Karl Wendlinger on board, was forced to mount a comeback as it started from the back of the grid. This was a consequence of the engine being substituted on Saturday night.

On lap 19 Peter went off the track but he managed to maintain control. His excursion was caused by surface debris. It started to rain on lap 26 as the drivers began to make their pit stops. The two JMB Racing cars had mounted intermediate Pirelli tyres while Bartels opted for wet weather tyres. Bertolini had raced brilliantly and was now among the leading drivers.

Peter was forced to make a second out stop after experiencing some problems refuelling and then a third stop for the driver change. Roman Rusinov had climbed to fourth before giving way to Chris Buncombe at the fourth and final stop. The middle phase of the race saw a duel for the top three places between the numbers 9 and 15 MC12s and the team Larbre 550.

Bartels and Wendlinger went head to head on lap 56. Bartels, who had mounted slicks, had the edge. The race for the finish line seemed to be between these three crews but, unfortunately, during the last driver change Bartels/Scheider could not complete their pit stop. The number 9 car was forced to stop for the fourth time and lost for the chance of a podium finish.

In the end it was Lamy/Gardel's 550 that took the win form Bertolini/Wendlinger's MC12 and Melo/Belloc in the 575. Fourth came the Corvette with Kumpen/Longin/Hezemans in the driving seat. Next home were the two MC12s crewed by Bartels/Scheider and Peter/Buncombe/Rusinov. Maserati now have 106 Constructors' Cup points to Ferrari's 59.

In the team championship, Vitaphone are now on 54 points and JMB Racing 52. Gardel heads the drivers' championship by two points from Bertolini and Wendlinger on 35.