In the fourth round of the International Superstars Series, Andrea Bertolini and his Maserati Quattroporte Evo, prepared by private squad Swiss Team, was hoping for a win and a good placing. Against all predictions, Maserati's official driver dominated Race 2 from start to finish despite having a 30 kg weight handicap. The win came on the back of his earlier triumph in Race 1. Bertolini's new team mate, Alessandro Pier Guidi, made the day even sweeter with a third-placed finish to improve on his sixth spot in the first event.
Setting the fastest lap time in Race 2 gave Bertolini a total haul for the weekend of 41 points, moving him into second place overall. Four points ahead of him is new leader Luigi Ferrara, in the Caal Racing Mercedes Amg C63 with the previous leader Thomas Biagi now third in the BMW M3 E92 from BMW Italia.
Bertolini and Pier Guidi's superb display in the Maseratis was the result of the excellent work carried out between races by Swiss Team, supervised by engineer Giuseppe Angiulli, and with the support of Maserati Corse. Maserati Corse, led by engineer Maurizio Leschiutta, has collaborated with Swiss Team since the start of the season.
In the first race both drivers, even though they finished first and sixth, had tyre wear problems that slowed them down in the second half of the race. So, the technicians fine-tuned their cars for the second race and the results were clear to see. Bertolini was able to increase his lead over Luigi Ferrara to 4"5 seconds and set the fastest lap of 1'34"204; his lead was never in doubt. Meanwhile, Pier Guidi's tempo was higher than in Race 1 and this eventually gave him third spot, only 5"3 seconds off Bertolini.
In Race 2, Bertolini moved into an immediate lead and gradually put more road between himself and the chasing pack. Things were lively behind him with Ferrara and Cerqui, in the BMW Italia BMW M3 E92, disputing second place. Herbert spun and ended up at the back of the field and Montanari clashed with Biagi, ending up in 14th.
On lap 9, Pier Guidi was quick to make the most of the room left by Cerqui as he lined up another attack on Ferrara. Pier Guidi edged past the BMW Italia driver into third. Cerqui then slipped more places when he was outdone by Biagi, with Pigoli and Montanari hard on his heels. Biagi's fourth place didn't last long: with Pier Guidi in his sights and with things hotting up all over the track, the BMW Italia driver was overtaken by Pigoli and then Montanari. Biagi and Herbert then clipped each other which resulted in Biagi sliding down to ninth with technical problems. This position also saw him lose the overall lead in a championship which sees Ferrara on top with 93 points, Bertolini next on 89 and Biagi on 82.
Things went exactly as planned in Race 1.
Bertolini's partner, Alessandro Pier Guidi, also did well. Pier Guidi was making his series debut and had never driven this Maserati before but showed he was competitive in taking sixth.
Maserati's official driver dominated the opening race on the English circuit. Lining up on the front row, he outpaced Alberto Cerqui's BMW M3 E92, from BMW Italia, at the start before building a healthy lead. His rivals never came close to catching him and he crossed the line untroubled.
Behind Bertolini placed the classy Johnny Herbert, driving the Mercedes Amg C63 prepared by team Romeo Ferraris. The ex-F1 man nudged Cerqui into third early on, with Luigi Ferrara in fourth in the Caal Racing C63. Pier Guidi, Christian Montanari's RGA Motorsport BMW M3 E92, and the Ferlito Motors Jaguar XF, with Francesco Sini on board, came up next.
These positions stayed fixed for the first four laps and then Cerqui and Ferrara started going at it, swapping places as they took turns to attack. Ferrara managed to get past Cerqui but then mistimed his braking for a turn, allowing Cerqui to nick back ahead of him. At the halfway stage, the Quattroporte Evos started suffering from tyre wear. Bertolini, who had a 3"4 second advantage over Herbert and had set the race's second fastest lap of 1'34"798 (a touch slower than Ferrara's 1'34"701), opted to ease up, allowing Herbert to close the gap. Further down the field, Pier Guidi lost a position to Montanari.
Things settled down again in the second half of the race. Herbert was giving it everything, even managing to post 1'34"775, but he could only close in to 1"5 seconds off Bertolini. Pier Guidi had a decent lead over the car behind him and crossed the line in sixth, a place up on championship leader Thomas Biagi and his BMW M3 E92.
The BMW Italia driver should be more competitive in Race 2 as his seventh spot means that he sheds 20 of the 60 kg weight handicap built up over previous rounds. Bertolini, on the other hand, will have to cope with another 30 kg on top of the regulation minimum weight he started Race 1 with after his disappointment at Portimao. Pier Guidi will again line up free of a weight handicap.