Triumph for the MC12 in the 'Tourist Trophy'
The Modenese car beat off the challenge of Bert-Janis's Saleen S7R and the Aston Martin DBR9 driven by Gollin-Babini.
The other Maserati, fielded by the Vitaphone Racing Team, also did well as Jamie Davies and Thomas Biagi steered it to fifth. At the end of three hours and 95 laps, Bartels-Babini's overall time was 3h00'40'717 at an average speed of 162 km/h; 4'735 faster than their adversaries.
The race began in uncertain weather and with the asphalt difficult to read after the morning rain. This meant that the teams had to mount intermediate Pirelli tyres. Starting from second and fourth place on the grid, Bertolini and Davies attacked from the off and immediately gained two places. On lap three, Bertolini moved into second place while Davies, following a spin, slipped down to fifteenth spot. After half an hour of racing, Bertolini's MC12 took the lead and Davies climbed to third after an extraordinary comeback. The track began to dry out when the sun shone and, forty minutes in, Bertolini came into the pits to switch to slicks and refuel. Davies mirrored the move two laps later. This strategy, decided in an instant, proved to be a winning one.
After their stops, Bertolini and Davies came back onto the track in 5th and 7th place. An hour into the event, Bertolini had climbed to third and, by setting the best lap times, closed in on Janis' Saleen and Piccini in the Aston Martin, in first and second respectively. Davies, despite some visibility problems, held fourth place. On the course of lap 35, Bertolini claimed top spot with his team mate Davies in third.
By the end of the second hour the driver changes had been made (between laps 51 and 53). Now in the driving seat of the Maseratis were Michael Bartels and Thomas Biagi and they were travelling in second and fourth. The obligatory pit stops over, the German Bartels took the lead and steadily increased his advantage over his pursuer Janis (Saleen) until it reached a minute half an hour from the finish. The plan at the beginning of the race proved spot on as, eighteen minutes from the chequered flag, Bartels came in for his final fuel stop after an earlier tyre change. The lead he had built allowed him to come back onto the track in first place. From there it was a cruise to the finish.