Vitaphone Maserati drivers Andrea Bertolini and Michael Bartels wrapped up the inaugural FIA GT1 World Championship after the qualification race at San Luis, which was won by Hexis Aston Martin's Yann Clairay and Frederic Makowiecki.
Bertolini and Bartels finished outside the points in 12th position in Argentina after dropping back following contact with Christopher Haase's Reiter Lamborghini, but their only rivals for the championship, Darren Turner and Tomas Enge from Young Driver Aston Martin, also failed to add to their score as they could only come through to 10th from their disappointing 17th on the grid. That means the Vitaphone pair remain 28 points in the lead with only 25 available from this afternoon's championship race.
The winning Hexis car jumped into the lead with Clairay at the start and survived a first-corner hit from pole starter Stefan Mucke (Young Driver Aston). Clairay led until mandatory pit stops in the middle of the one-hour race and then a quick turnaround by the French Hexis squad got Makowiecki out with a lead of nearly eight seconds.
Makowiecki said: "It was important for Hexis to take some points to try to take second place in the teams' championship. It was difficult because it is so easy to make a mistake here. I tried to keep a good rhythm and to maintain the gap."
Richard Westbrook and Thomas Mutsch came through to a distant second in their Matech Ford, despite lining up only 10th on the grid. Mutsch benefited from the first-corner incident to move up to third by the end of lap two and then Westbrook had to fight his way past two cars after the team lost vital seconds in the pits.
Maxime Martin and Bas Leinders finished third, less than half a second behind the Matech car, in their Marc VDS Ford. Fourth place went to the second Hexis Aston driven by Jonathan Hirschi and Clivio Piccione, which had spun amid the first corner mayhem, then briefly got back up to second thanks to a rapid pit stop, before being pushed again in the fraught battle for the podium places.
Pos Drivers Car Time/Gap
1. Makowiecki/Clairay Aston Martin 57m35.613s
2. Westbrook/Mutsch Ford + 13.029s
3. Martin/Leinders Ford + 13.477s
4. Piccione/Hirschi Aston Martin + 22.205s
5. Kechele/Jimenez Lamborghini + 26.195s
6. Dumbreck/Krumm Nissan + 28.206s
7. Wendlinger/Moser Nissan + 29.587s
8. Pier Guidi/Verdonck Maserati + 31.065s
9. Pastorelli/Schwager Lamborghini + 34.182s
10. Turner/Enge Aston Martin + 35.849s
11. Muller/Heger Maserati + 42.835s
12. Bertolini/Bartels Maserati + 43.383s
13. Campbell-Walter/Hughes Nissan + 45.326s
14. Risatti/Basseng Lamborghini + 49.560s
15. Palttala/Bobbi Ford + 50.247s
16. Bernoldi/Ramos Maserati + 52.989s
17. Jani/Armindo Ford + 2m06.747s
Hennerici/Margaritis Corvette 19 laps
Kox/Haase Lamborghini 1 lap
Mucke/Lopez Aston Martin 0 laps
Ara/Nilsson Nissan 0 laps