12.12.2009: The FIA honoured the 2009 FIA GT Champions during the FIA Gala in Monaco. Surrounded by the other champions from world motorsport, it was a fitting finale for the FIA GT Championship, which, after 13 seasons, will be
The FIA honoured the 2009 FIA GT Champions during the FIA Gala in Monaco. Surrounded by the other champions from world motorsport, it was a fitting finale for the FIA GT Championship, which, after 13 seasons, will be transformed into the FIA GT1 World Championship and GT2 European Championships in 2010.
In the GT1 category, Vitaphone Racing Team secured its fifth successive Team title, with its Maserati MC 12 cars maintaining the advantage despite plenty of opposition from the competitive Corvette cars.
Three makes and six different teams claimed victory in 2009 but, once again, the Drivers title went down to the line. A close fight around the challenging Zolder circuit saw Andrea Bertolini and Michael Bartels retain their crown, their third joint title after 2006 and 2008.
Michael Bartels, driver and Team Principal of Vitaphone Racing Team, said:
“It is something really special for us to win three titles together. It shows that the combination works really well. We are really proud with what Vitaphone has achieved in this Championship, striving to run two competitive cars and to maintain the level constantly higher to present GT racing worldwide.”
Andrea Bertolini agreed:
“This feels really, really good. We've won the title three times now and this is a first for the FIA GT Championship. When you win three times, it's not because you have a joker; it’s because you have a really strong team and a really strong car.”
The GT2 category saw another episode in the long-running battle between Ferrari and Porsche, with honours shared at the end of the eight-race season. AF Corse retained the Teams title, their fourth in four years. The Italian team claimed four wins with their two Ferrari F430 cars, including the prestigious Total 24 Hours of Spa, and helped Ferrari to win the GT2 Manufacturers Cup.
But the Drivers title went to Prospeed Competition’s Richard Westbrook, in a Porsche 997 GT3 RSR. He claimed three wins with his team-mate Emmanuel Collard, before a strategic driver change in the final round gave him the weight advantage, victory and the title.
Amato Ferrari, Team Principal of AF Corse, said:
“It has been a really hard season, because the field was very strong with many professional teams and drivers. So we are very satisfied to win the title for the fourth year. We have been lucky to run the Ferrari F 430 GT, which was and is the best car ever built, and which makes our wins easier. The rest came from our drivers and team. There is just one word for all of them: fantastic.”
New GT2 Drivers Champion Richard Westbrook said:
“It was so important for us to win after being comprehensively beaten in 2008. This is testament to all the hard work from Porsche and Prospeed Competition, who gave Emmanuel Collard and myself a Championship-winning car. What makes this even more special is that you can only be judged in terms of the competition you have beaten, and we were up against one of the best-ever GT teams in the form of four-times Champions AF Corse.”
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