Lamborghini takes victory in sensational Zolder race

21 April 2013

Peter Kox and Stefan Rosina driving a Lamborghini 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.

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

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.

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QUOTES

Stephane Ratel, CEO and Founder of SRO Motorsports Group
“GT sprint racing at its brilliant best. That is what the crowd and our large TV audience saw at Zolder this afternoon. Not knowing who was going to win until the final corner is fantastic motorsport. Having two very different GT cars battling so closely together shows that we have a great spectacle taking place this season. Congratulations to all the winners this weekend and we cannot wait until the battle resumes at Zandvoort in July.”

Peter Kox, #24 Lamborghini Blancpain Reiter - Lamborghini Gallardo GT3 FL
“We had a really good start today. Stéphane (Ortelli) kept me alive, I have a big respect for him because he could have easily touched me and then I would have been gone, but he gave me the opportunity to go and do a good first lap. Then I just concentrated on my driving and getting a gap to the Audi.”

Stefan Rosina, #24 Lamborghini Blancpain Reiter - Lamborghini Gallardo GT3 FL
“Yesterday, I could not stand the pressure from Laurens (Vanthoor) because he really drove well. Today, when I saw the good job that Peter did, I knew it was going to be a bit easier. Obviously, when you have such a fast car flashing (lights) a lot behind you it is hard, but I tried not to look at the mirrors so much. It was a great drive from Laurens and I was happy to keep him behind today.”

Laurens Vanthoor, #11 Belgian Audi Club Team Audi – Audi R8 LMS Ultra
“I want to congratulate Peter (Kox) and Stefan (Rosina), with whom I had a very good and fair fight, the way it should always be in motorsport. I will not lie, I am a bit disappointed, I did everything I could to pass Stefan, but in the end I could not succeed. It cannot always end the way we want. Our aim is to win the series and we always want to play it fair, so we did not want to take any risk there. We finished second, but it is good for the points and that is what matters.”

Frank Stippler, #13 Belgian Audi Club Team Audi – Audi R8 LMS Ultra
“In the first three laps I thought I could join the leaders but then it was quite obvious that it was not possible because we were a bit too harsh on the rear tyres, so I just tried to keep that place. Edward and I are both quite happy with this result, being one step behind Laurens on his home track is good for us! We had a very good pit stop again and we are happy for the team that they could have two cars on the podium.”

Andreas Simonsen, #2 HTP Gravity Charouz - Mercedes SLS AMG GT3
“It was a really good race. The start was quite difficult, I had some touching from other drivers but I managed to gain one position and I just kept driving. We did a small change on the car before the race, and it was really nice to drive. It was a nice race, the driver change went well, and it was fun, so I am happy.”

Cesar Campanico, #14 Novadriver – Audi R8 LMS Ultra
“Carlos did a very good start today, from the 12th to the 7th position at the end of his stint, and not far from the first Pro-Am car. Unfortunately, we lost some time during the pit stop but luckily when I went on the track I had a chance to defend my position with the Lamborghini, which was very close. Then I just tried to keep my pace, because I knew the leader was too far behind. Dominik (Baumann) was pushing me, driving at the same pace. It was a tough event but we are happy with our second place and hope we can keep it that way for the whole season. “

Dominik Baumann, #25 GRT Grasser Racing Team – Lamborghini LP560-4
“Cesar left the pits just before me, and I was stuck behind him. Then we had a short fight, nothing special but I just wanted to stay behind him. I wanted to attack him but it was impossible to do it. The Lamborghini today was better than yesterday. Overall, I am really happy with this third position today. Now we have some time to work on our pit stops and the car so I am really satisfied with the weekend.”

Petr Charouz, #3 HTP Gravity Charouz - Mercedes SLS AMG GT3
“I am happy because this is quite an achievement for a first time in a GT Series. If we keep pushing like that, we could even win the Gentlemen Trophy title, so it would be good for us. This circuit is quite unforgiving for the cars and the drivers so we mostly focused on keeping the car alive and crossing the finish line.”

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Pirelli – Official Tyre Supplier to the FIA GT Series

Pirelli is a tyre manufacturer and world leader in the automotive industry. It has an exclusive relationship with over 50 racing series worldwide, including Formula One.

Pirelli has a long and illustrious history in endurance racing, and has also claimed a huge variety of class wins in GT racing all over the world.

The design of the new Pirelli GT tyres meets the needs of the FIA GT Championship while maintaining the performance characteristics that endurance drivers have appreciated in the past.

The slick tyres used for GT racing are branded P Zero: just like the slicks that have become a central feature of Formula One. The name P Zero is used in the highest categories of motorsport such as GT racing.