The sixth Maserati Trofeo season will spring into life on 25-26 April at Paul Ricard, France. The race calendar reflects the fact that the series is now a global affair. There will be six rounds in all and, after France, the circus will move on to Spielberg, on 24 May, as the Austria track hosts the Maserati Trofeo for the first time. Round 3, on 28 June, will be on another new circuit: Road America in the US state of Wisconsin. North America will again be the setting for the 23 August meet at VIR-Danville, in Virginia, before the series makes the transfer to Asia and Suzuka, Japan, on 25 October. Things will be wrapped up in Abu Dhabi on 11 December as the track stages the series climax for the third year running.
The drivers will have to come to terms new regulations in force this year. Pre-qualifying will see the competition hot up from the second session on before the drivers give their all in Qualifying and in the SuperPole to decide the Race 1 order. The format brings the series in line with other motor-racing events with the aim being to up the competitive edge. Another change will be the switch from three races, a format used in 2013 and 2014, to a weekend of two 42’ minute sprints with no pit stop. Also, the Race 1 finishing order will be inverted to define the Race 2 grid and the top three finishers being loaded with extra weight (50, 30 and 10kg) to give middle-ranking drivers a fighting chance come the second event. These tweaks will surely see excitement levels rise.
The entry list will include drivers with some form in the Maserati Trofeo: Riccardo Ragazzi (last year’s overall runner-up behind Mauro Calamia), Beppe Fascicolo, in his fourth season, and German driver Andreas Segler, an ever-present since 2010, will all be back for more. Other familiar faces belong to brothers Lino andCarlo Curti as well as Belgian Adrien De Leener. Michael Bartels from team Vita4one, will be making a return; the German has always enjoyed close links with Maserati after winning several FIA GT1 titles in the astonishing MC12.
After appearing at Abu Dhabi (where he pocketed a win, a second and a third spot), French driver Romain Monti will be back, as will Mauro Trentin, this time paired with rally specialist Alessandro Proh. Though there will be a host of drivers with championship experience, the gird will also see some newcomers ready for battle. Among them will be Alessandro Fogliani, a driver who earned his spot thanks to his displays in the Racing Academy run last month at Vallelunga.
The team series will see Olivier Doeblin, from Jolly Club, making a welcome return while two cars from theBoutsen Ginion scuderia will line up for the first time: one driven by Stephane Pourquie and the other byAnge Barde (another returner). The Belgian Boutsen Ginion outfit, employing a Maserati GranTurismo MC, boasts a third place in its class picked up earlier this season in the Dubai 24 Hour.
Round 1 –Paul Ricard programme
Friday 24 April
Free practice 1: 11.50 – 12.50
Pre-qualifying: 11.10 – 17.50
Saturday 25 April
Qualifying: 09:00 – 09:20
SuperPole: 11:30 – 11:50
Race 1: 17:35 – 18:17
Sunday 26 April
Race 2: 15.25 – 16.07