Having already come close to victory on several occasions this year, Phoenix Racing's Andrea Piccini and Jean-Denis Deletraz were finally able to claim their first win of the year at the final time of asking as the 2006 FIA GT Championship drew to a close with a grueling three-hour endurance in Dubai.

Although they have registered maximum points twice this year for leading at the eight and sixteen hour marks of the Spa 24-Hours race earlier in the season, it is nonetheless the first time the Italian-Swiss combination has been able to complete victory.

Indeed, it was a battling performance for the Aston Martin pairing having seen their domination in the practice sessions in the run up to the race come undone in qualifying when a problem saw them complete just three laps, and with it only claim eighth on the grid.

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Still, the length of the race and the seeming Michelin tyre advantage they had over a field shod largely in Pirelli rubber, allowed them to gradually move through the field, running behind the GLPK Corvette for much of the race, before moving past when they made a mistake. Pressure from the Belgian run squad ensued but came to nothing when they were forced to make a splash and dash with ten minutes of the race remaining.

The result also means that Piccini and Deletraz secure the runner-up spot in the championship behind Michael Bartels and Andrea Bertolini, who no doubt breathed a sigh of relief that they had cemented the title in Adria after struggling to eleventh overall around the lengthy Middle Eastern circuit.

Almost 50 seconds off the lead, the GLPK Corvette of Belgian duo Bert Longin and Anthony Kumpen, as well as Dutchman Mike Hezemans, ended up a distant second to bring their rather stunted season to a close on a high, while Maserati made it three different brands in the top three with Jamie Davies and Thomas Biagi.

However, even third in the race was not quite enough for the two-time winners to finish higher than fifth in the championship, the duo losing out to Jarek Janis and Sascha Bert in the final standings.

Indeed, Janis' switch from partnering Bert in the Zakspeed Saleen to the Race Alliance Aston Martin alongside Karl Wendlinger and Philipp Peter proved to be a shrewd move, the Czech driver helping his new co-drivers to fifth in the race.

Fifth place was well ahead of Bert, racing with Andrea Montermini and Jos Menten, who could only manage 22nd overall after problems with their S7R. As a result, it is Janis who finishes third overall in the championship at the end of his first season of sportscar racing, two points up on his more experienced former co-driver.

Fourth place belonged to Fabio Babini and Matteo Malucelli, although the BMS Scuderia pairing missed an ideal opportunity having started the race from pole position, inheriting it from the demoted Larbre Ferrari 550 Maranello, before losing the lead on lap eight and gradually slipping down the order to fourth.

It was a similar story for team-mates Fabrizio Gollin and Miguel Ramos, who had started second alongside their Aston Martin siblings but finished down in sixth place.

Seventh was claimed by the controversial Larbre Ferrari, which was forced to start from the pit lane instead of pole position when it was decided that not running restrictors was against the regulations. In return, they were forced to carry an extra 10kg of ballast, a penalty that saw them eventually finish three laps off the pace, even if they inevitably won their G2 category as the only competitor for that class.

In GT2, Tim Mullen and Chris Niarchos delivered Scuderia Ecosse their fifth victory of the season, although it was Jamie Melo who had the biggest smiles, the Brazilian having been confirmed as champion with second place in class alongside Toni Vilander.

Indeed, the AF Corse driver needed barely any points to edge out team-mates and rivals Mika Salo and Rui Ageus but was assured the title when they could only manage third.

A1 GP star Jeroen Bleekemolen, along with Jonny Kane, broke the Ferrari stranglehold to take third in class for Spyker, just ahead of Tim Sugen and Iradj Alexander in the JMB 430GT.