The first step towards an official return to racing. The Maserati Trofeo, the model with which the Modena-based Italian company will make its official return to motor racing in 2003, makes its world debut at the Paris Motor Show.
Next year, the Trofeo will be the centrepiece of a single-brand championship of seven races, run on the most prestigious circuits in Italy, Great Britain, Germany, France and Spain. Two events, in Italy and Britain, will be held in conjunction with the local Formula 1 Grand Prix, and four will be mini-endurance events, combined with the FIA GT Championship.
The last race will be held with the traditional “Finali Ferrari” racing days. There will be 26 cars on the starting grid, and it will be possible to enter two drivers for mini-endurance events. The Trofeo race cars will all be prepared and run directly by Maserati to guarantee technical equality and similar performance.
Before being presented in Paris, the car was put through an intense test program beginning in June 2002. It made its debut at Fiorano with Luciano Burti, and the tests continued in Imola with Luca Badoer and Fabrizio Giovanardi. Luca Badoer took the wheel of the Trofeo again in Fiorano and Mugello, then Fabio Babini tested the car at Vallelunga. Even Michael Schumacher had a chance to try the car out on September 8 at the Nürburgring, and he announced that he was satisfied with the level of competitiveness achieved. The Maserati Trofeo is based on the V8-powered Coupe Cambiocorsa.
The changes made were primarily to reduce weight and increase safety. The changes to adapt the car for racing include: upgraded braking system, specific damper and spring settings, safety petrol tank, racing seat, safety roll-over bar and cage, larger wheels (9″ x 18″ front, 10″ x 18″ rear), slick tyres, aerodynamic kit, specific racing mapping of engine.