Sebastien Loeb Racing dominated the FIA GT Series weekend at the Circuito de Navarra in Northern Spain. The McLaren MP4-12C GT3 of Alvaro Parente and nine-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb won both the Qualifying Race and the Main Race today.
Full Race Results: Click Here
In the qualifying race on Sunday morning, changing weather conditions resulted in some teams changing to wets and other teams opting for slicks. On the greasy track several drivers went wide in the first corner and Portuguese driver Alvaro Parente took the lead in the No. 9 McLaren.
Title candidates Edward Sandström and Laurens Vanthoor battled for second place behind Parente and just before the pit stop window opened the Belgian driver passed his Swedish teammate. Belgian Audi Club Team WRT decided to take a gamble and mounted wets on Frank Stippler’s Audi and slicks on Ortelli’s Audi.
Sebastien Loeb decided to stay on wets and he was able to retain the lead after the stops. On slicks, Ortelli was a sitting duck and he dropped down the order when it started to rain 10 minutes before the end of the race.
The changing weather conditions didn’t surprise Loeb and he went on to win the race after 33 laps. Frank Stippler finished behind him in second place, while Ortelli only finished seventh overall and fourth in Pro. Hari Proczyk and Gerhard Tweraser finished third overall and won Pro-Am.
Loeb and Parente continued their domination in the Main Race on Sunday afternoon. The French driver led the field into turn 1 and kept teammate Andreas Zuber behind until the pit stops. Championship leader Ortelli spun on the opening lap an dropped down to 17th position.
Despite suffering a puncture just before the pit stop window opened the No. 10 Sebastien Loeb Racing Mclaren MP4-12C GT3 was able to retain second place during the stops. Alex Buncombe and Steve Doherty battled for third but nearly hit each other at the pit lane entry – resulting in an extra lap for Buncombe and time lost in the pits when the Nissan crew serviced the other Nissan first.
After all teams had made their mandatory stop it was still a Sebastien Loeb Racing 1-2. The two WRT Audi’s followed but with 10 minutes remaining Laurens Vanthoor pulled into the pits with brake disc problems. He rejoined to try and claim important points but was given a drive-through penalty before the checkered flag came out.
Parente was the first to be shown that flag after 36 laps followed home by teammate Parisy. The No. 13 Audi of Stippler and Sandström finished in third place. As Vanthoor only finished 15th overall, Sandström and Stippler reduced the gap to Vanthoor and Ortelli to just five points with just one round left.