At Valencia for the second round of the season, Andrea Bertolini, who had earlier steered the Swiss Team Quattroporte Evo to victory, again shone in taking the runners-up spot from Luigi Ferrara and his Caal Racing Mercedes C63 AMG. This means that Maserati’s official tester is third in the championship despite missing Race 2 at Monza
(he placed third in Race 1).
Bertolini again started from pole after he set an electric lap time in qualifying. Unlike Race 1, at the rolling start Bertolini couldn’t hold off Ferrara and maintain the lead. As well as being disadvantaged by racing against a bigger-engined and more powerful car in the Mercedes, the race saw the four-time FIA GT champion also carrying a 30 kg win handicap after his success in Race 1. This meant that his acceleration was penalised and the ballast also affected the brakes and tyres.
Bertolini opted to let Ferrara through at turn one rather than take any risks. From there he stuck close to the leader all the way to the finish line, with the gap never more than 1"5 and hoping that his rival would make a mistake. The error never came and the two drivers were glued together throughout. In the end, Ferrara crossed the line just 0"761 ahead of the Maserati. Behind the front two came Pigoli, Biagi and Gabellini after having their own private battle. Biagi only made sure of fourth on the very last lap after Gabellini, pressured by his team-mate, strayed off the track.
This long-awaited result came in the first of the two races in the season’s second round, at Valencia, after Bertolini had dominated qualifying.
The Maserati led from start to finish and edged out Luigi Ferrara’s Mercedes C63 AMG, from Caal Racing, and Thomas Biagi’s BMW M3 E92 prepared by Team BMW Italia.
Bertolini, starting from pole, was in the groove right from the rolling start: he started fast and controlled Ferrara’s bigger-engined and more potent Mercedes behind him. Cleanly and decisively, the Maserati driver moved into the centre of the track, preventing the rival car from unleashing all its horsepower. Then, with turn one coming up, he occupied the inside line to close out any hope of Ferrara making an attack.
Despite having a lower top speed, with the Quattroporte Evo reaching 235 km/h and the C63 AMG 242 km/h, Bertolini’s tempo allowed him to make the most of his agility through corners. The Maserati driver increased his lead over Ferrara and Pigoli (in a Romeo Ferraris C63 AMG) with each lap until it reached 4"5 and 11", respectively. Only over the closing laps when he had a healthy lead did Bertolini ease up to allow Ferrara to reduce the gap. Even so, The Mercedes driver was never in danger of troubling the leader. As the chequered flag approached, Biagi pulled up behind Ferrara after winning an exciting duel with Armetta, Herbert, Gabellini and Pigoli and went on to claim the last podium place.
Maserati’s success this season has come earlier than expected. The positive results are the product of the technical support offered to Swiss Team by Maserati Corse. This collaboration came after Swiss Team made the effort to prepare the Quattroporte for the International Superstars Series in 2009 and 2010.