Sunday, March 31, 2013

FIA GT: Second place for WRT Audi at Nogaro in qualifying race

By Tarek Ramchani

An action packed qualifying race at Nogaro has started the 2013 FIA GT Series. The five Audi R8 LMS ultra cars who all qualified well yesterday faced different fates today.

The #12 Audi R8 LMS ultra of Belgian Audi Club Team WRT finished in a very strong second place after titanic battles for race lead with the winning McLaren MP4-12C of Sebastien Loeb Racing. The car shared by fast Rene Rast and Niki Mayr-Melnhof started from pole position. Rene Rast had a great start and battled hard with McLaren factory driver, Alvaro Parente, in some of the most exiting battles in recent years of GT racing. After the wave of pit stops the Belgian team was able to send Niki Mayr-Melnhof out in front ahead of Sebastien Loeb. The Austrian Audi driver held onto his lead for many laps, as he resisted the WRC legend, before ultimately loosing the lead. Not bad for a car listed as a Pro-Am car. Phoenix Racing #5 Audi R8 LMS ultra of Belgians Anthony Kumpen and Enzo Ide finished in a strong fourth place. The Portuguese #14 car of Cesar Campanico and Carlos Viera were right behind in fifth. The #11 WRT car of Laurens Vanthoor and Stépahne Ortelli were a lap down in sixteenth, due to contact for Vanthoor with a BMW Z4 in the first lap. Later a tire issue sent Stéphane Oretlli's R8 into the gravel trap. The #13 machine of Edward Sandstrom and Frank Stippler had a very disappointing DNF.

The Championship race is set for tomorrow afternoon. The starting order will be the same as in today's championship race standings. Fingers crossed for the three Audi customer teams.

Qualifying race results are here.

Photo credit: Laurent Chauveau/Endurance-Info/