Monday, April 1, 2013

FIA GT: WRT and Team Novadriver take victory at Nogaro

By Johan Laubscher

The Audi teams continued their good form at Nogaro today. The first FIA GT Series main Championship Race of the year yielded very good results, in what was eventually coined as an Audi procession.
The main Championship Race got underway in wet condition on Monday afternoon. Sebastian Loeb lead the field in his McLaren closely followed by Nikolaus Mayr-Melnhof in the #12 WRT Audi, who remained in contention during the entire first stint.

During the pitstops Rast was able to leapfrog the Loeb entry which was then driven by Parente. A battle ensued which saw Parente touching Rast into a half spin. Rast recovered and began chasing down the leading McLaren. Parente was eventually called into the pits due to a pitlane infringement. This left Rast out in the lead with plenty still happening behind him.

Sandström in the #13 Audi muscled his way into second place and in doing so took the lead of the Pro class, as the #11 was the overall and pro-am leader. A battle for third had developed between the #5 Phoenix Racing Audi of Ide and Kumpen and a Mercedes-Benz. Vanthoor put on what could be described as the drive of the race as he caught the third place battle and passed both cars to claim third place. This resulted in a WRT 1-2-3 which was held to the line. This result saw WRT winning both classes with Phoenix Racing finishing fifth overall and Team Novadriver claiming second in the Pro-Am class, a 1-2 finish for Audi in the two classes.

However, following the race the #11 WRT car of Rast and Mayr-Melnhof received a thirty second penalty, dropping them to eighth overall and second in class. The penalty was given due to their engine not having been switched off during the entire re-fueling process. The overall and pro class race winners were thus the #13 WRT entry of Edward Sandström and Frank Stippler. The penalty also promoted the Team Novadriver Audi to the pro-am victory with drivers Cesar Campanico and Carlos Vieira.

The next round of the FIA GT Series will take place at Zolder in Belgium. 

Championship Race results can be seen HERE.

Photo credit: Laurent Chauveau/Endurance-Info/