The McLaren 650S GT3 secured further silverware this weekend as McLaren GT Factory Drivers Rob Bell and Alvaro Parente claimed pole position, a podium finish, and the Main Race victory – the first for the McLaren 650S GT3 in the 2016 Sprint Cup. This result extends Bell’s lead at the top of the Blancpain GT Drivers Championship to 44 points.
Saturday Qualifying saw Parente set pole position in the Garage 59-run #58 650S GT3. The McLaren GT Factory Driver topped the timesheets with a 1m 26.218s lap of the Nürburgring Grand Prix sprint circuit to claim the first pole position for the 650S GT3 in the championship.
The 60-minute Qualifying Race later that day saw more of the same from Parente in terms of pace. He managed to hold the lead during his stint, having to defend hard from a trio of challengers behind before pitting to hand over to Bell. Despite losing the lead during the pitstop, Bell was quickly on the pace and regained P2, and had his sights firmly set on the race lead. As the clock ticked down, Bell cut the gap to the leader from 10 seconds to just 0.3 seconds, but his charge was interrupted by a full-course yellow caution, holding position to cross the line claiming the first podium finish in the Sprint Cup for the team.
The second race of the weekend brought even better fortunes for the duo. With the finishing result from the earlier race determining the starting grid, Bell started on the front row and was immediately past the pole-sitter and into the lead before the braking zone into Turn 1, timing his start to perfection. From here, Bell was able to build up a healthy margin before pitting to hand over to Parente.
Quick work by the Garage 59 pitcrew saw Parente rejoin the track in the #58 650S GT3 still holding the lead. A well managed stint with consistent laptimes saw the gap maintained to the chasing pack. As the chequered flag fell, Parente took the race victory with a two second winning margin. The result sees Bell extend his lead in the Drivers Championship, and Garage 59 now tops the Teams Championship heading to the Blancpain GT headline event – the Total 24 Hours of Spa.