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 Maserati to compete in 2005 ALMS Series

February 23, 2005


Maserati MC12
Maserati

The International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) today announced that it has invited Maserati to enter the MC12 in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) as a guest of the sanctioning body. The invitation to Maserati contains several limitations that Maserati has accepted and intends to complete immediately. This announcement clears the way for the MC12 race car to participate in the opening round of the American Le Mans Series at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 19, and each of the remaining ALMS races in 2005. The new Maserati MC12 ALMS endeavor marks the first time in 48 years that Maserati has fielded a full factory race car in the United States. The last time a factory Maserati appeared on the grid at Sebring, Juan Manuel Fangio drove it to victory in 1957.

"The Maserati does not completely comply with the Automobile Club de l'Quest (ACO) requirements, and as such, has not yet been homologated for competition under ACO regulations," said IMSA Chief Operating Officer, Tim Mayer. "IMSA will bear the final responsibility to regulate the performance of the car in the interest of ALMS competition, such that the race car operates within the accepted performance envelope of cars within the GT1 category," added Mayer.

The homologation process is the system by which a race car is derived from the road car through technical specifications set by the ACO or the Federation Internationale De L'Automobile (FIA). Because the MC12 race car complies with the FIA's homologation but not with the ACO's homologation requirements, it will not be eligible for points in any of the American Le Mans Series championships, including the driver and team championships which run under the ACO regulations. The car will also not be eligible for any other races run under the ACO regulations.

"There is no question that this race car is the subject of much speculation," said ALMS President and CEO, Scott Atherton. "However, we have a very technically savvy audience and we expect that the inclusion of the Maserati in the full season of ALMS races will create great interest for our fans, both at the tracks and on television. We expect that our fans, competitors and event promoters will greatly benefit from the inclusion of this extremely exciting and competitive new ALMS race car entry."


Maserati MC12 is a bit too long
Maserati

While the FIA homologation has not yet been finalized, IMSA has specified several requirements in addition to those currently envisioned by the FIA, including some changes to the bodywork. Because the FIA and the ACO regulations have become generally parallel in 2005, the race car complies with the ACO regulations in general terms with two specific exceptions. The car, as it will be permitted by IMSA, is 66 mm (2.598 inches) wider than the 2000mm (78.74 inches) permitted in the ACO regulations. The car was originally built to the 2004 FIA specification which included a 2100mm (82.68in) maximum width and Maserati has been forced to request a waiver for this requirement to run in 2005. The waiver process generally indicates that some performance penalty be applied to compensate for any performance gain.

The Maserati MC12 road car is longer than the 5000mm (196.85in) permitted in the regulations. While Maserati has been able to shorten the race car to the required length, full ACO homologation would require Maserati to shorten the length proportionally from both the front and rear overhang, which for 2005, Maserati has not been able to accomplish. This is not a requirement for FIA competition.

Both the ACO and the FIA have recently included regulations that provide for the control of performance of the cars in the GT1 category so that they fall within a specified performance envelope. IMSA has worked extensively with both organizations in order to develop a system of controls that will be applied to the MC12, a first for ALMS competition.

"We have only agreed to invite the MC12 to compete on the basis that Maserati has agreed to be subject to performance controls in the spirit of Article 19 of the ACO regulations," continued Mayer. "While this regulation does not specifically cover the situation of the American Le Mans Series, the concepts contained therein are applicable and have been agreed in principal by all of the manufacturers. IMSA has worked with the FIA which has previous experience with the MC12 and has volunteered to send representatives to inspect and monitor its testing. Additionally, IMSA has been working with the ACO and the FIA to develop tools to analyze the performance of all the cars in the GT1 category. We are confident that we can create an environment where the MC12 can compete on a fair and equitable basis with all of the other GT1 cars running in the ALMS," Mayer added.

"Maserati Corse is pleased to have the opportunity to display our car in front of audiences in North America. This is one of the most important sales markets for Maserati so this development is very important for our sales and marketing efforts as well," said Maserati Corse Director, Claudio Berro. "We greatly respect the compromise that has been reached to permit the running of our race car and look forward to competing on the merits of our product, our team and our drivers. Maserati intends to operate our car as a full factory effort, supported logistically by Risi Competizione, a Ferrari / Maserati dealer in the United States."

Initially, one Maserati MC12 will compete in each event of the series. The driver lineup will be announced at a later date. A second race car is planned for the ALMS in 2005. A final timeline will be determined soon.
 

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