Bucharest: Maserati Dominate Qualifying + Grid!

The Sarafree Maserati takes pole on the streets of Bucharest
Courtesy of the FIA GT/DPPI

For the first FIA GT Championship race at the Bucharest Ring, a 3.111 km circuit drawn up around the imposing Romanian Parliamentary Buildings, the front of the grid will be an all-Maserati affair, with Scuderia Playteam Sarafree dominating qualifying and securing the coveted front two places on the grid. They were followed by the nr 2 Vitaphone Maserati, while the nr 36 Jetalliance Aston Martin DBR9 was an excellent fourth. In GT2, Emmanuel Collard set pole for BMS Scuderia Italia. Originally a Porsche one-two-three, unfortunately Marc Lieb’s Felbermayr-Proton Porsche 996 GT3 RSR later saw its times cancelled, promoting the Tech9 Motorsport Porsche to second and the nr 63 Scuderia Ecosse Ferrari to third.


After a relatively difficult start to the season, Italian team Scuderia Playteam Sarafree has locked out the front row for the third round, in Bucharest, with an excellent performance in qualifying. Alessandro Pier Guidi, in the r 12 Maserati MC 12, and reigning Champion Andrea Bertolini, in the nr 11 car, swapped fastest lap times in both the second free practice and qualifying sessions, bringing the times down to 1:14.214 for pole. This was Pier Guidi’s first pole in the Championship. “I’m so happy with this pole position. It is my first pole this season, my debut in this category,” he said. “I cannot find any words to tell you what I feel. The car is excellent. The team has done a fantastic job. I want to thank the team, Maserati, and the Pirelli tyres, just excellent team work. It is so fantastic and a great boost on my first time on this street circuit.” The other place on the coveted front row, on a street circuit with few overtaking possibilities, surrounded by unforgiving walls, went to Bertolini, three tenths slower than his team-mate. “It was a very ood day in the end we have three Maserati MC 12 cars in the top three,” he said. “The traction is very good here. Two cars on the front row is fantastic for our team. The secret is also partly that the Pirelli tires are very strong. I hope that tomorrow will be a good day and the occasion to take many points after our bad start this season. It is just so important to score points for the Championship here and we have a great opportunity.”


Christian Montanari, from the Republic of San Marino, made it a Maserati one-two-three in qualifying, setting a time of 1:14.697 in his Vitaphone Racing car. In only his first season of GT racing, the former race-winner in Monaco proved that his single-seater skills had transcribed well to the larger Maserati. “I am very happy, and this is a very important result for me,” he said. “Things have not been easy, especially with the dry and wet conditions in the free practice sessions. The team did a very good job, as did Michelin, and it is very important for tomorrow’s race. Overtaking will not be easy, so it was important to start from the front. We’ll see tomorrow in the race.


Robert Lechner claimed an excellent fourth-place with the nr 36 Jetalliance Aston Martin DBR9, the Austrian driver setting a time of 1:15.329 to be the first non-Maserati car on the grid. “Finally a really good qualifying session,” Robert said afterwards. “I felt very comfortable in the car – and the result shows. Apparently, street courses suit my style of driving. In my Formula 3 days I claimed pole both at the Norisring and in Macau. Now I’m just looking forward to tomorrow’s race !” Fifth went to the nr 4 PK Carsport Corvette C5 of Kumpen and Longin, with the second Jetalliance Aston Martin of Wendlinger and Sharp in sixth, after a small mistake. “We had the potential for a better spot,” Wendlinger commented. “ But what’s positive is that our car runs well on the street course and that we are well-prepared. That’s why I’m very confident for tomorrow.” The second Vitaphone Maserati MC 12 of Gollin and Biagi was seventh, ahead of the two All-Inkl.com amborghini Murciélago cars, the nr 5 Carsport Holland Corvette and the two Aston Martin Racing BMS DBR9 cars.

Emmanuel Collard claimed his sixth FIA GT pole position at Bucharest, in the nr 97 BMS Scuderia Italia Porsche 997 GT3 RSR. This was his first pole since 2005, and a welcome return to the top for Porsche, after a Ferrari dominated pole position in the category in 2006. “It is really good to be on pole, and I am very happy for the team and for Pirelli also,” he said. “Here it is quite important to start from the front row, as in the race it is going to be very difficult to overtake a car. I do not really like street circuits, but if the car is fast enough it’s OK for me. The Porsche is a really good car, we have really good traction, good braking : it’s the right car for this track.”

It's going to be tight come race day
Courtesy of the FIA GT/DPPI

Originally third in qualifying, the nr 99 Tech 9 Motorsport Porsche 997 GT3 RSR gained a place after the 66 Felbermayr Porsche lost its qualifying times. The young British driver, reigning FIA GT3 European Champion, set a time of 1:18.474 on his first time on a street circuit. “Things are going pretty well. I’m happy to be up there as it is so important to qualify well on a street circuit, so hopefully we will be up there tomorrow. Finding the set-up was quite difficult, as I have never been to a street circuit before, so I was struggling with the front of the car over the bumps,” he said. Jarek Janis, returning to the Championship and racing in the GT2 category for Scuderia Ecosse, inherited third on the grid, with the nr 63 car being the best placed Ferrari 430 GT2. Ebimotors will be fourth on the grid with the nr 74 Porsche, followed by the second Scuderia Ecosse car of Mullen and Kirkaldy. There were problems for AF Corse, with the nr 51 car being out after a second free practice crash for Stéphane Ortelli, and the nr 50 car needing to change the engine. The nr 52 Racing Team Edil Cris car also eeded an engine change; both will start from the back of the grid.

The second round of the Citation Cup saw Joe Macari put the nr 16 JMB Racing Maserati MC 12 on pole position, in 19th position overall. He was closely followed by the nr 18 SRT car, with the nr 15 JMB Maserati third. The Kessel Racing Ferrari did not take part in the session and will start from the back of the grid. “ We are very, very pleased with the result, which is great for Maserati,” Macari said afterwards. “The circuit is fantastic – it’s my first time on a street circuit, and I can’t wait to do it again. My team-mate Ben Aucott is coming on; he was a bit nervous today, the walls are a bit bigger than he thought they would be, and he was trying to stay away from them, but he’ll do a lot better tomorrow, and hopefully we can get a good result out of it. We are on a different tyre which means we cannot compete with the GT1 cars, and we have a bit more performance in a straight line tha the GT2 cars, but we haven’t got their cornering capabilities. If we’re accurate, stay out of trouble and get to the end, who knows ?”

The sole G2 competitor, the nr 101 Gillet Vertigo entered by Belgian Racing, was qualified this weekend by Renaud Kuppens, setting a time of 1:21.082. “This was a good time for the Gillet,” he said. “It was very difficult to set a good time without taking big risks. We have started a new collaboration with Pirelli, and the tyres give a very good balance and good feeling. We will see tomorrow. It will be another day with a lot of difficulties. We need to keep concentrated, to keep the car away from the walls.”

Pos Car Team Nat Starting Driver Nat Car Class
1 12 Scuderia Playteam Sarafree ITA Alessandro Pier Guidi ITA Maserati MC 12 GT1 GT1

2 11 Scuderia Playteam Sarafree ITA Andrea Bertolini ITA Maserati MC 12 GT1 GT1
3 2 Vitaphone Racing Team GER Christian Montanari RSM Maserati MC 12 GT1 GT1
4 36 Jetalliance Racing AUT Robert Lechner AUT Aston Martin DBR9 GT1
5 4 PK Carsport BEL Anthony Kumpen BEL Corvette C5R GT1

6 33 Jetalliance Racing AUT Karl Wendlinger AUT Aston Martin DBR9 GT1
7 1 Vitaphone Racing Team GER Fabrizio Gollin ITA Maserati MC 12 GT1 GT1
8 8 All-Inkl.com Racing GER Jos Menten NED Lamborghini Murciélago GT1
9 7 All-Inkl.com Racing GER Christophe Bouchut FRA Lamborghini Murciélago GT1
10 5 Carsport Holland NED Mike Hezemans NED Corvette C6R GT1

11 23 Aston Martin Racing BMS ITA Jamie Davies GBR Aston Martin DBR9 GT1
12 22 Aston Martin Racing BMS ITA Ferdinando Monfardini ITA Aston Martin DBR9 GT1
13 97 BMS Scuderia Italia ITA Emmanuel Collard FRA Porsche 997 GT3 RSR GT2
14 99 Tech9 Motorsport GBR Sean Edwards GBR Porsche 997 GT3 RSR GT2
15 63 Scuderia Ecosse GBR Jarek Janis CZE Ferrari 430 GT2 GT2

16 74 Ebimotors ITA Marcello Zani ITA Porsche 997 GT3 RSR GT2
17 62 Scuderia Ecosse GBR Tim Mullen GBR Ferrari 430 GT2 GT2
18 16 JMB Racing MON Joe Macari GBR Maserati MC 12 GT1 GT1C
19 18 SRT BEL Tom Cloet BEL Corvette C5R GT1C
20 53 Racing Team Edil Cris ITA Matteo Cressoni ITA Ferrari 430 GT2 GT2

21 101 Belgian Racing BEL Renaud Kuppens BEL Gillet Vertigo G2
22 15 JMB Racing MON Peter Kutemann NED Maserati MC 12 GT1 GT1C
23 50 AF Corse Motorola ITA Toni Vilander FIN Ferrari 430 GT2 GT2
24 52 Racing Team Edil Cris ITA Paolo Ruberti ITA Ferrari 430 GT2 GT2
25 21 Kessel SUI Loris Kessel SUI Ferrari 575 Maranello GT1C

26 66 Team Felbermayr-Proton GER Marc Lieb GER Porsche 996 GT3 RS GT2
27 69 Team Felbermayr-Proton GER Horst Felbermayr Sr. AUT Porsche 996 GT3 RS GT2
99 51 AF Corse Motorola ITA Will Not Start ITA Ferrari 430 GT2 GT2