Penalties prevented a happy ending for Sébastien Loeb Racing.
Winners the day before, Sébastien Loeb Racing experienced an eventful championship race on Monday. Leaders for most of the race, Sébastien Loeb and Alvaro Parente were handed two penalties.
The good performance as a whole for the Alsacian team was therefore not properly rewarded. The weekend was enriching and kicks off a season full of challenges for Sébastien Loeb Racing who took their maiden win yesterday.
Although small adjustments still need to be made, the team showed its level of competitiveness !
Dominique Heintz, team manager: « This weekend was rather positive : we’re in the game ! We are quick : we won the qualifying race after a good showing.
I’m happy for the team because everyone is doing a good job. We are all here to learn : I’m repeating myself, but we’re all still young.
We chose a very competitive series, in which everything is won or lost in the minor details. To win our first race is satisfying, but we can still progress further ! »
Sébastien Loeb (#9): « We suffered a little on a wet track : at the end of the stint, the car was rather difficult to drive. Despite this, I was able to keep first place. After the two penalties, we’re outside the top 10 : it’s a shame because we clearly had the potential to finish on the podium.
« I only want to retain the positives. We were competitive all weekend, which proves the team worked hard. Personally, I’m satisfied as well. I saw this event as one that would show where I stood, and it was important for me to be in the hunt.
I’m not forgetting that this is the first race for the team at this level of GT racing. We logically have things to improve on but the performance was there. We’re going to capitalise on these first experiences to take on Zolder under the best conditions. »
Andreas Zuber (#10) : « We had a good qualifying performance but we were denied our Superpole time so we started ninth. In the pack, Mike fought hard yesterday but suffered a flat tyre as a result. We finished 10th, which doesn’t reflect the level of our performance, our team or our car.
Today, I got a good start, but we were handed a drive-through penalty for failing to respect our starting position. I’m going to look at the video because I don’t really know what happened. I’m disappointed…We will approach the next race with max attack ! I’m happy to be with this team, who are very professional ! It’s without a doubt the best team I’ve raced with in all of my career ! »
Mike Parisy (#10) : « It’s a debut that could have gone a lot better. We had no luck the entire weekend. Friday’s penalty ruined our car’s chances. It’s difficult to come back from such a handicap in such a competitive championship. As for the second race, we struggled in the rain.
It’s a weekend with no points for the championship. But our level of performance is clear on a dry track. We just need a chance to work a little to get closer to the competition. »
The joys of Sébastien Loeb Racing’s first victory in the FIA GT Series during the qualifying race quickly gave way to concentration and preparation for the championship race, with the variable weather arriving as early as the morning warmup adding to the unpredictability.
Indeed, the start was given in a pouring rain that prompted the race direction to bring out the safety car to allow drivers to examine the precarious conditions.
With a perfect start, Sébastien Loeb conserved his first place advantage and maintained the lead. Further behind, Andreas Zuber, at the controls of the No. 10 McLaren, took the better of the No. 7 Ford GT and put pressure on former F1 driver Ricardo Zonta. The Austrian would continue his good performance all the way to sixth place !
At the head of the field, Sébastien continued to hold off the No. 12 Audi until the mandatory dirver change pitstop, which he completed at the halfway point.
Now behind the wheel of the No.9 McLaren, Alvaro Parente made a valiant attempt to rejoin the track as fast as possible, but was unable to be ahead of the No. 12 Audi.
Like the day before, the two men battled back and forth until, in traffic, a bit of contact put an end to the duel. The McLaren MP4-12C took the advantage.
Neither of the Sébastien Loeb Racing entries would be afforded the chance to defend their positions until the end unfortunately. Each is slowed by respective drive-through penalties: failure to respect starting position for the No. 10 and unbuckling of safety harness before coming to a full stop in the pits for the No. 9, who would get another penalty assessed after Alvaro’s contact with the leader.
In the end, the two team cars finished outside the top 10, a result that does not reflect the level of performance shown throughout the weekend.