Bartels/Scheider on the poduim at Zhuhai
The Vitaphone Racing Team has a good lead and are only five points off making mathematically certain of the title with two races left. JMB Racing are next in the overall standings and so it will surely be a Trident car that claims the team title.
On the Chinese Zhuhai track where they scored a one-two last year, the MC12s managed to secure a fine result in making the poduim despite carrying an extra 40kg of weight. This meant that the number 10 and 15 cars raced with 150kg of ballast. The number 9 car lined up with ten less.
This was the car that took third with Michael Bartels/Timo Scheider on board. They edged out the twin car driven by Fabio Babini and Thomas Biagi.
Andrea Bertolini and Karl Wendlinger came home sixth. They lost a place after a final refuelling stop in the closing stages. They still lead the Drivers' standings and are four points clear of Bartels/Scheider. Fourth on 59 are Babini/Biagi with Gabriele Gardel on 60 points, at the wheel of a Larbre Competition 550 just ahead of them.
Two races from the end the championship is still wide open.
It is obvious that the ballast helped Gardel's cause. He halved the gap that separated him from the Maserati drivers before the trip to China.
The outcome of the race was uncertain right to the end with fast Corvettes and 550s hounded by the 575 and the weighed down MC12s.
After three laps Bouchet's pole placed Aston Martin left the sceneafter running across some oil left on the track. Lamy's 550 and a Porsche GT2 also succumbed at the same spot. The intervention of the safety car allowed the three to return to the track.
Bouchet still had to pull up shortly afterwards. Lamy, on the other hand, mounted a comeback that saw him on the tail of the lead car after around twenty laps. The race order up front often changed as the strategy of the teams played out. Even team Vitaphone led for a spell.
Going for victory would have been impossible but the two MC12s from the German team based their race on a three stop strategy. They switched tyres just once in order to save time. The elevated consumption of fuel caused by the added weight ruled out making just two stops. The plan paid off, thanks to the fine performing Pirelli tyres that coped with two successive stints with extra weight.
Bertolini/Wendlinger settled on another strategy but the entry of the safety car ruined their plan. They twice changed tyres and had to stop for a five minute fuel stop at the end, meaning that they missed out on fifth.
The other JMB Racing MC12 had to retire with transmission problems.