WRC legend Sebastien Loeb claimed a superb victory at the traditional Coupes De Pâques meeting at Nogaro in south-west France on Sunday, the opening round in the 2013 FIA GT Series.
Loeb, who is competing in the event in his Sebastien Loeb Racing-run McLaren MP4-12C, was sharing the car with Alvaro Parente.
Loeb took over the wheel from Parente just after the half way mark of the 60-minute qualifying race and he then proceeded to hunt down the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT entered Audi R8 LMS ultra of Niki Mayr-Melnhof.
In a breathtaking around the outside manoeuvre at the hairpin, Loeb surged ahead and eventually won by a clear 5 seconds.
For Loeb, it was a dream start to his first full-season campaign as a circuit driver and immediately after the race he paid tribute to his team-mate.
“Alvaro was very good today, he did a great start in the qualifying race and even if our competitors closed the door he never let them go,” Loeb remarked. “It is very different from what I am used to doing, but I am here to learn. I had a really good time driving the car. It was a great fight from the start to the finish.”
FIA GT Series boss Stephane Ratel added: “This was a wonderful way to start the 2013 FIA GT Series season. A large crowd, a good grid of cars and a great result for Sebastien Loeb and his team in their home country.
“Tomorrow [Monday] we will see an even larger crowd I am sure and some more exceptional GT racing.”