McLaren wins Opening race

McLaren GT kicked off the 2013 European GT season in style, with French rally-ace Sebastien Loeb claiming victory in the opening round of the FIA GT Series at Nogaro. The nine-time WRC world champion, racing one of two 12C GT3s being campaigned by the French-based team, has chosen to share driving duties with the young Portuguese driver Alvaro Parente, who is part of the McLaren GT factory driver program.

The weekend got off to a strong start with the team qualifying on the front and second rows for the FIA GT Series Qualifying Race. From here, Loeb and Parente went on to claim a hard-fought victory, recording a win for the 2013-specification 12C GT3 on its European debut, and its third in as many outings.

The second race saw Loeb start from pole position, and maintain a lead up until the pit window opened for the mandatory pitstop and driver change. The sister 12C GT3 of Mike Parisy and Andreas Zuber showed competitive pace, and steadily moved through the field despite the tricky, wet conditions. However, during the second half of the hour-long race, both Sebastien Loeb Racing 12C GT3s were hit with driver penalties, dropping them back before finishing 11th and 12th.

Commenting on the weekend, and the team’s victory, Sebastien Loeb explained: “This was a really good event for us, and I am really pleased that we came away with the win on Saturday. We made a few small mistakes over the weekend, which affected the final result in the second race but, overall, I am happy with the performance of the team, and with how I drove.

“Over the course of the weekend the 12C GT3 felt great, especially in the dry conditions. There are some areas of set up where I feel we can find some more pace, and we need to work on optimising the balance in the wet, but I really enjoyed the event, and we showed good pace."

The results, in one of the most competitive GT series, build on last week’s winning result in Asia, and see Sébastien Loeb Racing joint second in the standings in the Pro Championship.

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