Peter Kox and Stefan Rosina driving a Lamborghini Gallardo GT3 FL2 won the second round of the 2013 FIA GT Series today in a thrilling and nail-biting race at Circuit Zolder in Belgium. They headed home Stéphane Ortelli and Laurens Vanthoor’s Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS ultra to take victory after an epic late-race dual, winning by a tiny 0.448s margin.
Kox snatched the lead with a confident move on pole-sitter Stéphane Ortelli at the first corner of the one-hour event and quickly pulled out a five-second gap before the mandatory pit stop. The experienced Dutchman then handed over the cockpit to Stefan Rosina and after slick pit work by the well-drilled Lamborghini Blancpain Reiter team, he resumed the lead.
A charging Laurens Vanthoor, who took over from Ortelli, was intent on hunting down the Lamborghini and began to eat in to the 5-second gap, eventually catching the Slovakian with just ten minutes of the race remaining. Thus began a fascinating battle that had the Zolder crowd on the edge of their seats as local-hero Vanthoor looked for the slightest of gaps to exploit. Rosina though was in no mood to compromise and defended the lead resolutely, despite the close advances of the #11 Audi R8 LMS ultra. The epic battle was only resolved at the final corner of the race as the Lamborghini powered out of the Jacky Ickx chicane took the chequered flag by less than half a second.
Completing the podium at Zolder this afternoon was the #13 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS ultra of Edward Sandström and Frank Stippler. Solid performances by both drivers and slick pit work by the WRT team earned the Nogaro winners more useful points in their 2013 FIA GT Series title quest.
In 4th place was the Sebastien Loeb Racing McLaren MP4-12C of Andreas Zuber and Mike Parisy, who just missed out on a podium after enjoyed a spirited fight with Sandstrom’s Audi in the early exchanges. A fighting 5th was the #12 Team WRT Audi of Niki Mayr-Melnhof and René Rast, which in the hands of latter was the fastest car on track for much of the second half of the race. The mercurial German took 5th position, overtaking the Phoenix Audi of Anthony Kumpen but only after an intense and entertaining fight.
There was frustration for motorsport legend Sebastien Loeb, whose race was compromised early on after contact with the #28 Seyffarth Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 of Jan Seyffarth. This meant a visit to the pits to repair the McLaren and after a dogged fight back, Loeb and Parente took two points for 9th place in the PRO Cup class.
Sealing the PRO-AM class win were Sergei Afanasiev and Andreas Simonsen in their HTP Gravity Charouz entered Mercedes SLS AMG GT3. A perfect weekend for the pair was completed by the impressive Afanasiev, who took over the wheel from Simonsen at half distance. Swede, Simonsen, enjoyed a clean start to the race, building an unassailable lead ensuring the HTP Gravity Charouz squad celebrated a double win, after their Saturday Qualifying Race success.
Claiming a fine 2nd place in the PRO Am Cup was the Novadriver Audi, campaigned by the all-Portuguese pairing of Cesar Campanico and Carlos Vieira. The Nogaro class winners had an eventful start to the race, narrowly avoiding first lap incidents where Vieira set the foundations for the race with a confident first stint. Campanico, who owns and runs the team had serious work to do in the latter stages, as the Grasser Racing Lamborghini of Dominik Baumann (shared with Austrian – Hari Proczyk) closed in threateningly. Baumann pushed the Novadriver Audi all the way to the flag but eventually had to settle for 3rd in the PRO AM Cup class.
Scooping the Gentlemen Trophy class honours were Petr Charouz and Jan Stovicek who took home maximum points in their HTP Gravity Charouz Mercedes SLS AMG GT3. Following up their Qualifying Race win on Saturday, the Czech duo enjoyed a trouble-free race to take a clear Gentlemen’s Trophy points lead. Classified in second place was the Seyffarth Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 challenger of series debutants
Duda Rosa and Paolo Bonifacio. Their race was spoilt after an early race puncture which caused bodywork damage. It was doubly frustrating for the Brazilians as they were leading the class at the time. They were eventually classified 2nd in class and 16th overall after incurring a penalty for a pit lane infraction.
The Belgian Audi Club Team WRT squad celebrated more success after the #13 crew took the Pit Stop challenge honours. The mechanics scooped a cheque for 2000Euros after they took just 1m38.711s for their combined pit stops in both the Qualifying and Main races. they currently lead the points table from their sister crew of the #11 entry.
Teams, drivers and fans alike will now get chance for a breather before the next round of the 2013 FIA GT Series which will take place at Zandvoort over the weekend of 6/7 July.
QUICK TOP 10 RESULT RUN DOWN
Pos/Cl Driver Team/Car
1. PRO Kox/Rosina Lamborghini Blancpain Reiter Lamborghini
2. PRO Ortelli/Vanthoor Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi
3. PRO Sandström /Stippler Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi
4. PRO Zuber/Parisy Sebastien Loeb McLaren
5. PRO Mayr-Melnhof/Rast Team WRT
6. PRO Ide/Kumpen Phoenix Audi
7. PRO AM Afanasiev/Simonsen HTP Gravity Charouz Mercedes
8. PRO Khodair/Bueno BMW Team Brazil
9. PRO-AM Vieira/Campanico Novadriver Audi
10. PRO-AM Proczyk/Baumann Grasser Lamborghini
(Image: FIA GT Series)