After announcing his semi-retirement last year from the World Rally Championship, a competition he’s won nine times, French racing driver Sébastien Loeb is testing the waters in other forms of motorsport as he attempts to seek out his next challenge.
On top of this, Loeb has his own racing team, Sébastien Loeb Racing, which currently campaigns a pair of McLaren 12C GT3 race cars in the 2013 FIA GT Series.
Following the first round of the series in Nogaro, France, over the weekend, Loeb and team-mate Alvaro Parente of Portugal emerged victorious in a qualifying race at the event.
Unlike in his rally career, Loeb’s latest win was a hard-fought battle, primarily against an Audi R8 LMS ultra from Belgium’s Audi Club Team WRT, driven by Niki Mayr-Melnhof and Rena Rast.
The victory was not only Loeb’s first in GT racing, but also the first for his Sébastien Loeb Racing team.
Unfortunately, Loeb was not able to secure victory in the main event, having been handed a 30-second penalty for unbuckling his harness early before a driver change. Audi Club Team WRT was able to take home a one-two victory.
The relatively new McLaren 12C GT3 race car has proven quite successful in motorsport. In last year’s GT racing season, teams campaigning the McLaren 12C GT3 claimed 38 podium finishes, with half of these on the top step.
The 2013 season, which started in Asia last month with the Malaysian Super Series, has continued this winning streak with the 12C GT3 claiming a brace of victories with new customer team Clearwater Racing. This was the competitive debut for the enhanced 2013-specification 12C GT3, and these results mark the first victories for McLaren GT, and the 12C GT3, outside Europe.
North American fans of the 12C GT3 will be happy to know that the race car was recently approved for the Pirelli World Challenge, so expect to see some of the cars on local soil. The series is run in conjunction with the Izod IndyCar series (and, occasionally, the American Le Mans Series).