For the past three years, the GT1 Drivers Champions have driven Ferrari 550 Maranello cars. But for 2006, the Champions will be at the wheel of a Maserati MC 12. A close season-long fight, between the nr 1 Vitaphone Maserati, the nr 5 Phoenix Racing Aston Martin DBR9 and the nr9 Zakspeed Saleen S7 finally came to an end today, when the nr 5 Phoenix car retired in the pits further to an on-track collision, while the nr 9 Saleen, long-time race leader, fell back after a brake disc caught fire. This left the crew of the nr 1 car, who already had a good lead of nine points, to come home second and claim the title with a lead of 14 points over nearest rival Sascha Bert.
“We couldn’t have finished in a better way,” Michael Bartels explained. “It has been a very hard season. Everyone was going completely unto the limit today, to fight for success. In the end of the day, it is a great result for the whole the season, with our partners Pirelli and Maserati, with the driver line-up, with the still young Vitaphone team, of which I am very proud.” As for Bertolini, who was with the Maserati project from the start, he was delighted to claim the title at home. “This is a very special event for me, I will always remember today. I would like to thank all the Vitaphone team and the drivers, and special thanks to Pirelli, who worked very, very hard all season. ” He also thanked his secret weapon and lucky charm, his wife, saying that she always brought him good luck.