Vitaphone Maserati drivers Michael Bartels and Andrea Bertolini won the GT1 World Championship qualification race at Brno this afternoon. Bartels led from pole and pulled out a lead of over 10 seconds before the pit stops began. Bertolini continued the good work, despite a charge from Young Driver Aston Martin driver Tomas Enge, to win by nearly five seconds.
Behind the reigning champions, local hero Enge took second. Peter Dumbreck had jumped Enge's co-driver Darren Turner at the start, as both made their way past front row starter Miguel Ramos on the opening lap.
Despite appearing faster than the Nissan, Turner could not get by and came in early to hand over to Enge. The Czech set the fastest lap soon after coming out of the pits and jumped the Nissan when Dumbreck came in to hand over to Michael Krumm.
Krumm's pace was impressive, often being the fastest man on the track in the second half of the race, and he finished well clear of the Dominik Schwager/Nicky Pastorelli Lamborghini Murcielago.
The battle for fifth was closer. After his poor start Ramos ran fifth, chased by the MC12 of Altfrid Heger, but both lost out during the pitstops. Xavier Maasen's Mad-Croc Chevrolet Corvette (started by Mike Hezemans) and Romain Grosjean (started by Thomas Mutsch) rejoined ahead of Ramos's partner Enrique Bernoldi.
Maasen lacked Grosjean's speed, but was able to keep the ex-F1 racer behind. Their fight allowed Bernoldi and Frederic Makowiercki (in the Hexis Aston Martin started by Peugeot LMP star Stephane Sarrazin) to close and the four took the flag together.
Vitaphone's result means that Bertolini and Bartels have taken the lead in the title fight heading into tomorrow's main race, for which they will start from the pole.