Vitaphone Maserati duo Michael Bartels and Andrea Bertolini cruised to victory in the qualifying race for this weekend's FIA GT1 World Championship event at Paul Ricard.
Bartels failed to convert Bertolini's pole into the race lead, losing out to Reiter Lamborghini driver Christopher Hasse. The 22-year-old German kept the Murcielago R-SV in front for eight and a half laps before his veteran compatriot outbraked him for the lead into the chicane on the long Mistral Straight.
The Maserati was then able to pull away from the opposition, despite the addition of 20kg of ballast for this race under the so-called Balance of Performance regulations. Bartels was able to pull out a lead of seven seconds over his nearest pursuer before stopping shortly before half distance in the one-hour race.
Bertolini found himself with an 11s lead over Haase's team-mate, Dutchman Peter Kox, after the pit stop sequence was complete and was able to control the gap to the Lamborghini driver for the remainder of the race.
"It was a fantastic and fair battle," said Bartels. "I decided to wait for my chance and I could see that his tires were degrading a bit more than mine. We had a good pit stop and then Berto did a good job to bring the car home."
Third place went to the Sumo Power Nissan GT-R driven by Jamie Campbell-Walter and Warren Hughes. Campbell-Walter got the car up to third before the pit stops began and then Hughes, after losing time in the pits when he inadvertently knocked the master switch off, closed the gap on the Mad-Croc Racing Chevrolet driven by Mike Hezemans to take the final podium spot with four laps to go.