IMOLA, Italy – Sunday, September 5, 2004

Teams Dominate Imola Podium Running Pirelli Tires

The big story of round eight of the FIA GT Championship at Imola today was supposed to be the long-awaited debut of the Pirelli-shod Maserati MC 12s. And while the new kids on the block looked very promising by finishing second and third, it was the more experienced Pirelli-shod team of Uwe Alzen and Michael Bartels that drove their Vitaphone Saleen S7R to victory in Italy, their third win of the season and Pirelli’s fourth. The trio were the only cars to finish on the lead lap of the three-hour sprint race.

Saleen S7Rs dominated qualifying as well, placing five cars in the top ten; while the new Maserati MC 12s of Andrea Bertolini/Mika Salo and Johnny Herbert/Fabrizio de Simone could muster only an eighth and twelfth, respectively.

Alzen and Bartels had qualified third best but drove their usual strong race to earn their third victory after having won earlier this season at Magny-Cours (France) and Brno (Czech Republic). Double stinting their tires allowed the Vitaphone Racing team to remain at the front virtually throughout the race, finishing with a 43-second advantage for the second-place Maserati.

“Thanks to the fact that we were able to double stint our tires, providing optimal grip and performance for as many as 65 laps, allowed us to stay ahead of the Maseratis, especially in the final laps,” explained Alzen.

The Pirelli-shod Ferrari 360 of Christian Pescatori and Iradj Alexander also finished first in N-GT but the car was disqualified for an airbox infraction. The GPC Giesse Squadra Corse team is appealing the decision.