Thrilling qualifying session sees Rast take Nogaro pole

Sebastien Loeb, taking part in a full International Series for the first time, starts from 3rd place on the grid with Portuguese team mate Alvaro Parente.

Rene Rast drove a superb lap of the challenging Nogaro circuit to claim pole position for the first round of the 2013 FIA GT Series this afternoon.

The Belgian Audi Club Team WRT driver took his Audi R8 LMS ultra to a best lap of 1m26.091s, heading off a challenge from Alvaro Parente in the Sebastien Loeb Racing entered McLaren MP4-12C, by an impressive 1.1seconds.

Along with team mate, Niki Mayr-Melnhof, the Belgian entered Audi will start from pole position for the one-hour sprint ‘qualifying race’ to kick-start an exciting 2013 FIA GT Series season.

The #12 Audi was also the fastest PRO-AM entered car and will head four PRO Cup cars on the first grid of the year, tomorrow afternoon.

#32 Nissan GT Academy Team RJN Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3: Mark Shulzhitskiy, Wolfgang Reip
#32 Nissan GT Academy Team RJN Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3: Mark Shulzhitskiy, Wolfgang Reip

Photo by: SRO/VIMAGES/Fabre

The pair of Sebastien Loeb Racing McLaren MP4-12Cs will be shadowing the pole sitting Audi R8 LMS ultra, applying maximum pressure in what promises to be a thrilling race tomorrow afternoon.

With the track getting quicker and quicker throughout the session after earlier rain had washed the circuit, Rast got a near perfect lap hooked up; using his Pirelli tyres to perfection on the second of his two allocated flying ‘Superpole’ laps.

“I am very happy with this qualifying effort,” said Rast. “We had difficult conditions on track, first qualifying was dry then we had laps on some damp and I must say that we had a very good strategy, the WRT guys did a great job and I am looking forward to the ‘qualifying race’ tomorrow. For me this is all new, but I am really happy so far.”

Racing at one of his local tracks, Pau resident Mike Parisy was satisfied with a 2nd placed starting position in his #10 Sebastien Loeb Racing McLaren MP4-12C.

With a best time of 1m26.100s, both Parisy and his team mate, Andreas Zuber are in an excellent position to start their 2013 campaign and will aim for some useful series points in the Qualifying race on Sunday afternoon.

“We have to keep in mind that these are the first stages of the Sebastien Loeb Racing programme but it is nice to be right at the front,” confirmed Parisy.

“I am really happy to seal this first second place for the team. It is a real satisfaction but I have to stay vigilant because the level of competition is really high and the drivers are amazing in the FIA GT Series.

We did good free practice sessions, good qualifying and we are very motivated to keep pushing.”

Sebastien Loeb, taking part in a full International Series for the first time starts from 3rd place on the grid with Portuguese team mate Alvaro Parente.

The 9-time World Rally champion, racing for his own team this season will be aiming to reward a large and expectant crowd this weekend at his home event.

Placing 2nd in the Pro-Am class was another Audi R8 LMS ultra, run by the Portuguese Novadriver squad. Cesar Campanico, who also owns and runs the Novadriver team, capped an excellent showing so far this weekend to claim a front row position and also a solid 6th overall.

Other strong showings in qualifying came from the BMW Sports Trophy Team Brasil BMW Z4 of Brazilian stock-car legend ‘Caca’ Bueno/Allam Khodair. Bueno set the 7th fastest time to guarantee a place on the fourth row on the grid in, what is, the South America team’s European race debut.

The eye-catching Nissan GT Academy Team RJN entry of Alex Buncombe and Lucas Ordonez start from 8th position. The #35 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 enjoyed an impressive start to its campaign as it thrusts its ‘Gamers to Racers’ initiative on to the International scene, blooding its newest recruits, Wolfgang Reip and Mark Shulzhitsky, in the sister #32 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3.

The Gentlemen’s Trophy class continued to be under the control of the SOFREV Ferrari 458 Italia driven by crowd favourite, Fabien Barthez, and his team mate Gerard Tonelli.

The former Olympique Marseilles and Manchester United goalkeeping legend continues to impress in the Jerome Policand run Ferrari and was delighted with his first ever International pole position.

“I am really happy to be there,” said Barthez. “Qualifying went very well, we managed to bring the car back in the pits and get P1 too.

The weather was tough, but we adapted and it is part of the race, it helps to get more experimental and that is why we are here. Driving with all these great drivers is an honour for me.

FIA GT

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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Sébastien Loeb , Jérome Policand , Alvaro Parente , Cesar Campanico , Andreas Zuber , Gerard Tonelli , Allam Khodair , René Rast , Alex Buncombe , Lucas Ordonez , Mike Parisy , Niki Mayr-Melnhof , Fabien Barthez , Wolfgang Reip , Mark Shulzhitskiy
Teams Nissan Motorsport , Sébastien Loeb Racing , Audi Sport Team WRT
Article type Qualifying report
Tags audi, bmw, bueno, fia-gt, khodair, loeb, mclaren, mercedes, nissan, nogaro, parente, parisy, rast, zuber