Loeb and Parente reactions to their first win.
First FIA GT Series participation, first row start and first victory in the qualifying race giving pole position for tomorrow’s championship race ! That sums up this Easter Sunday at Nogaro for Sébastien Loeb Racing and its driver/boss.
Sébastien Loeb and teammate Alvaro Parente took the win for the entire Alsacian team to thank everyone for their massive efforts these past months. A great start !
Alavaro Parente, 1st : « It was a great race ! I didn’t get the start I was hoping for but was able to stay within reach of the polesitter. The gap was really close between us and the Audi. Sébastien’s pass later in the race is one of the highlights of the race.
I’m very happy of course and I’d like to congratulate the work that everyone at Sébastien Loeb Racing have put in and Seb’s driving. We can’t wait for tomorrow’s race.
During our testing sessions, I quickly saw that Sébastien was quick and that his progression was in the fast lane. The talent is there, and he’s very intelligent. I’m really very happy ! In any case, it’s a very good start. Now we must take each race as they come. »
Sébastien Loeb, 1st : « It’s almost more than we could have hoped for ! We knew that Alvaro would be good. He proved this yesterday during qualifying and during his stint today.
He had a good beginning of the race and stayed within stiking distance to first place. I’ve got a top driver with me and it’s up to me to be at his level. Above all, I’m here to learn.
That’s why I chose a teammate who is probably one of the best current GT drivers. This race went very well, but we can’t get too excited.
I had a lot of fun. We stayed in touch with the leaders for an hour, and it was a great battle. I think the fans were really happy. Finding an opportunity to pass was not easy, I was stuck behind the Audi for a while, until finally the driver ahead made a tiny error and we were able to slip by.
This race gives us the pole position for tomorrow. It’s an almost perfect debut, however for Mike and Andi things didn’t go as well.. »
Second and third in qualifying, the sister cars from Team Sébastien Loeb Racing should have taken the start side by side, but Mike Parisy and Andreas Zuber were forced to start from the middle of the grid after a sensor problem.
Right from the start, the pack of cars converged on the first corner. Although polesitter René Rast was able to come out of the turn in the lead, he immediately had to contend with Alvaro Parente’s charges in the No. 9 McLaren MP4-12 C.
For Mike Parisy, he had a great start and took sixth place on the outside before the race was shortly suspended behind the safety car due to an incident at the start. Once the track was cleared, the duel began anew between the top two cars.
Practically on the bumper of the leader, Alvaro Parente tried on each lap to attack under breaking, but the Audi was braking late and the pass attempts were only centimeters from success.
With this pace, the two men dug a large gap to the rest of the field including Mike Parisy, who was continuing his bad luck : the driver of the No. 10 McLaren was in last place after a right front flat.
In front, the battle was still fierce much to the enjoyment of the fans, who were witnessing a fair and respectful fight for the lead. The pit window for driver changes didn’t shake the status quo.
Niki Mayr and his Audi R8 LMS lead, by a few metres, Sébastien Loeb who took over for Alvaro. The multiple World Rally champion attempted to pass for the lead on each lap, trying on the inside and outside.
In the 34th lap, the Alsacian driver reeled in the leader in the braking zone for the « farm » corner. He glued himself to the Audi’s rear wing as the pair went into the « Caupène » complex of corners before using the long straight of the aerodrome to help in his attack !
The two drivers would swap positions several times before Sébastien was able to take the advantage in his No. 9 McLaren MP4-12c and take the lead for good to win the qualifying race.
The win means a pole position for Monday’s championship race. Mike Parisy and Andreas Zuber come home in 11th after showing good speed.
Sébastien Loeb Racing