Seven examples of the McLaren 650S GT3 were in action over the weekend, taking part in the Total 24 Hours of Spa and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course round of the Pirelli World Challenge. As a result of the challenging weekend, McLaren GT associated drivers and customer teams now lead the points tallies in seven of the standings associated with the two championships, including McLaren leading the Pirelli World Challenge Manufacturer Championship.
Factory Drivers starred in the Ardennes Forest, as Rob Bell, Côme Ledogar and Shane van Gisbgergen in the #58 Garage 59 McLaren 650S GT3 scored valuable points at the six-hour mark of the gruelling Spa 24 Hours to retain the lead in the Blancpain GT Series Drivers Championship for Bell, and Teams Championship for customer team Garage 59, as well as the Blancpain Endurance Cup Championships for all three drivers and the team. The trio led the race in the opening stages with Ledogar taking the the position with a bold move through the famous La Source / Eau Rouge section of the circuit, but dropped down the order to finish P33 after making heavy contact while negotiating backmarkers through the hours of darkness.
The other two McLarens in the race suffered similar bouts of bad luck. The #59 650S GT3 piloted by McLaren GT Academy Drivers Alex Fontana, Struan Moore and Andrew Watson all ran well – and as high as second at one point in the ultra-competitive 65-car GT field – but retired with accident damage after a head-turning 24-hour race debut performance.
McLaren P1™ GTR Driver Mentor Bruno Senna, alongside Duncan Tappy and ‘Pipo’ Derani in the Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Team-liveried #60 650S GT3 meanwhile had a competitive showing in terms of pace, but suffered at the hands of other cars multiple times in the night which required several visits to the pits. This prevented a fight through the standings in the second half of the race, and the trio finished P40.
In North America, Factory Driver Àlvaro Parente won his fifth Pirelli World Challnege race of the season driving the #9 customer-run K-PAX Racing 650S GT3. He lined up alongside 17-year old teammate Austin Cindric who claimed pole position, with McLaren filling three of the top four positions on the grid. Parente’s win means he continues to lead the Drivers Championship, with K-PAX Racing topping the Teams Championship. K-PAX Racing along with Gainsco/Bob Stalling Racing’s efforts also vaulted McLaren into the lead of the PWC Manufactuerers Championship standings during the weekend.
In the race though, Parente took control early, getting past Cindric after the first caution period ended a few minutes into the race. The pair then ran close for the remaining laps, while Jon Fogarty brough the #99 Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing McLaren home a season-high fourth.