The Quattroporte Evo, fielded by Swiss Racing Team and driven by Andrea Bertolini, dominated qualifying and took pole position. His time of 1'56"022 was almost a second quicker than the rival Mercedes C63 AMG with Caal Racing’s Luigi Ferrara in the cockpit.
Even before the event, the feeling was that the Maseratis would be more at ease on the semi-fast Valencia circuit. In round one, held on the faster Monza circuit where cars with bigger engines have an advantage, the Quattroporte Evo still scored a podium finish in Race 2. Here in Spain, the circuit favours more agile cars like the Quattroporte Evo whose engine is among the smallest in Superstars.
What was not expected was the Quattroporte Evo’s clear superiority. Added to the winter development work carried out by Swiss Team in collaboration with Maserati Corse, in qualifying, the input of Andrea Bertolini was crucial. Bertolini is Maserati’s official test driver and four time FIA GT champion at the wheel of the MC12 GT1, a car which he drove in the last seven seasons.
When it started to pour down before qualifying got underway, the conditions were right for Bertolini put all his experience into play and build a big lead over the pack.
Pole position was just reward for the pre-eminence demonstrated by the Quattroporte Evo and by Bertolini ever since the shakedowns. This class was shown even in the dry. On Friday, on its opening track outing, the Maserati topped the timesheet with a time of 1'42"003. For Bertolini, personal satisfaction came from taking more than six tenths out of his closest rival, ex-Formula 1 driver Johnny Herbert, now competing in Superstars in the Mercedes C63 AMG prepared by Romeo Ferraris.
Mercedes hit back in the first free practice session, thanks to Max Pigoli in another Romeo Ferraris C63 AMG. In this session, Bertolini was focused on getting his Quattroporte Evo ready for the race and posted the seventh best time.
The Maserati driver came through in free practice 2 with an exceptional time of 1'40"887, almost half a second up on Luigi Ferrara. In the single qualifying session, which decides the starting grid for Race 1 and Race 2, he again showed superb form.
This is the first pole position for Swiss Team’s Maserati Quattroporte since its 2009 entry into Superstars. Taking top spot on the grid is the result of the technical collaboration between Maserati Corse and Swiss Team since last winter.