23 October 2003

Maserati looks set to blow the world of GT racing apart with a dramatic new mid-engined sports car in next year’s FIA GT series. But although the car will wear a Maserati badge and feature dramatically different bodywork from the car we caught testing (above), it will, we hear, nevertheless bear an uncanny resemblance to a Ferrari Enzo beneath the skin. Although Maserati made no comment on the matter last week, it’s understood that some private GT teams are deeply concerned that the new Maserati is as an out-and-out racer that may cut across the spirit of the category.

Even in road trim, the Enzo’s 6.0-litre V12 engine develops 650bhp and is capable of 217mph. Once it has been on a weight-saving programme and its engine has been modified, however, it will make a formidably rapid racing car. Far quicker, surely, than Ferrari’s own 550/575 Maranello (run by Prodrive among others, but not the Ferrari factory), Porsche’s GT3 and the new Lamborghini Murciélago R-GT, which was scheduled to make its debut at Monza last Sunday in the final round of this year’s series.

The FIA is keen to strike a healthy balance between manufacturers and competitive independent teams in its GT series and is anxious that the infrastructure of international motor racing should have some worthwhile supplement to F1.

‘We obviously want to encourage the manufacturers to get involved,’ said an FIA spokesman. ‘We feel the GT championship has been healthy and shown promising signs of expansion this past season and the governing body is anxious for it to have a stable future.’

Whether a new ‘Maserenzo’ will encourage more or fewer manufactures to join the burgeoning GT championship is a matter that’s open to some debate.

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