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 years 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 and Carlo 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 the Boutsen Ginion scuderia will line up for the first time: one driven by Stephane Pourquie and the other by Ange 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.
The official pre-season tests will be held on Thursday 23 April at Paul Ricard.
This year, the Maserati Trofeo can be enjoyed on Motors TV. As usual, a 48 highlights show of the weekend (apart from Round 1) will be broadcast some ten days after the races; Race 1 from Paul Ricard will be shown live and Race 2 a few hours later. In Italy, the series can be tracked on channel 177 (Odeon 24/Odeon Syndication) thanks to a 3EMME&2A production. Their broadcasts will go out on the second Sunday after each event, at 21.30. Repeat shows will allow fans to catch up; these will also be shown on other channels.
The tie-in with Radio Monte Carlo has been confirmed and will ensure in-depth news and interviews throughout the season.
Round 1 Programme Local time
Friday 24 April Free practice 1: 11.50 12.50 Pre-qualifying: 11.10 17.50