The Vitaphone Maserati squad enjoyed the perfect weekend at the Zolder FIA GT Championship finale, claiming race victory and the GT1 drivers' crown.
Alessandro Pier Guidi and Matteo Bobbi dominated the race to notch up their first victory together, while team boss Michael Bartels and Andrea Bertolini sealed the title with a conservative drive. Third place, behind their championship rivals Mike Hezemans and Anthony Kumpen in the PK-Carsport Chevrolet Corvette, was enough to give them the crown by two points.
Pier Guidi and Bobbi never looked like being beaten in the two-hour race. Pier Guidi inherited pole position after Kumpen was penalized five grid places for a yellow-flag infringement in qualifying and drove away from his rivals.
The Italian was 13 seconds up after 10 laps and continued to build his lead through the opening stint. The final margin of victory was a shade over 20 seconds.
Pier Guidi, who returned to the championship at the Spa 24 Hours in August, said: "This was the perfect race for us. The car was very fast today."
Bartels, who won his third FIA GT title together with Bertolini, said: "It's something special to win a third title together. It shows the combination is working. It wasn't an easy race because we knew that if we made one mistake we could lose it."
Hezemans and Kumpen reckoned they did the maximum in their attempt to become champions.
"To come from sixth on the grid to second was good, but it was the most we could do," said Hezemans, "There was nothing we could do about a light Maserati when we had 60kg [of success ballast]."
The PK-Carsport team carried out its pre-race promise to protest Vitpaphone, which it has accused of race-fixing this season. It admitted that it has protested Vitaphone on three counts, but has yet to reveal details.
Britain's Richard Westbrook claimed the GT2 crown with class victory in the ProSpeed Porsche 911 GT3-RSR he shared with Marco Holzer. The lead ProSpeed car dominated the race after taking the lead from the AF Corse Ferrari driven by Gianmaria Bruni after a dozen laps.
Westbrook said he had mixed emotions about winning the title without usual co-driver Emmanuel Collard, who was moved over to the Brixia Racing 911 GT3-RSR in order to maximise Porsche's championship chances.
"I didn't want to go up on the podium without my regular team-mate; it didn't feel real," he said. "After I passed Gimmi [Bruni] it was a pretty straightforward race."
Bruni and Toni Vilander, who arrived at Zolder with a three-point lead, could only finish fourth in class. Their Ferrari was hamstrung by 50kg of success ballast and another 50kg for running two platinum-rated drivers, which resulted in braking problems and the need for fresh tires at each of its two pit stops.
Pos Drivers Cl Car Time
1 Pier Guidi/Bobbi GT1 Maserati 2h01m07.362s
2 Hezemans/Kumpen GT1 Corvette + 20.354s
3 Bartels/Bertolini GT1 Maserati + 35.557s
4 Maassen/Biagi GT1 Corvette + 1m09.803s
5 Bernoldi/Streit GT1 Corvette + 1 laps
6 Longin/Ruffier GT1 Corvette + 1 laps
7 Westbrook/Holzer GT2 Porsche + 3 laps
8 Malucelli/Ruberti GT2 Ferrari + 3 laps
9 Kirkaldy/Bell GT2 Ferrari + 3 laps
10 Vilander/Bruni GT2 Ferrari + 3 laps
11 Bergmeister/Mamerow GT2 Porsche + 3 laps
12 Collard/Ragginger GT2 Porsche + 3 laps
13 Barba/Cadei GT2 Ferrari + 4 laps
14 O'Young/Lieb GT2 Porsche + 4 laps
15 Maassen/Ashburn GT2 Porsche + 5 laps
16 Companc/Russo GT2 Ferrari + 6 laps
Ramos/Müller GT1 Maserati 72 laps
Krumm/Turner GT1 Nissan 61 laps
Leinders/Kuppens GT1 Ford 39 laps
Garcia/Mullen GT2 Ferrari 37 laps
Lemeret/Lucchini GT2 Ferrari 17 laps