Factory driver Rob Bell secured second place in the Blancpain GT Series Driver Championship as Côme Ledogar took the maiden win in the International GT Open championship in Monza.
The McLaren 650S GT3 continues to enjoy a strong season, claiming silverware across the world. The latest results saw Factory Driver Côme Ledogar secure race victory and a further podium in Monza, Italy with customer team Garage 59 during the penultimate round of the International GT Open championship. Fellow Factory Driver Rob Bell was also confirmed as runner-up in the Blancpain GT Series Driver Championship after the final round of the fiercely-contested Endurance and Sprint combined calendar.
At the Circuit de Catalunya, Spain, Factory Driver Rob Bell went in to the final round of the 2016 Blancpain Sprint Cup in a position to win the overall Blancpain GT Series championship, having already claimed two titles this season – the Asian Le Mans Series and, most recently, the Blancpain Endurance Cup.
A challenging weekend for British driver, and his regular Blancpain Sprint Cup teammate Alvaro Parente, saw the pair finish outside the points in both races. A harsh penalty in the opening Qualifying Race saw the pair drop from a top four position, all-but-ending Bell’s title hopes despite the team’s best efforts. Strong pace by both Bell and Parente would have seen the pair in contention for a good result, but luck was not on their side. Although a disappointing end to one of the strongest seasons for McLaren, the strong results from previous rounds throughout the combined Sprint and Endurance championships – the latter of which Bell was crowned champion of last month – meant the British racer took P2 in the Drivers’ Championship.
The second McLaren 650S GT3 in the series fielded by Garage 59 also had a tough weekend. Full-season driver Martin Plowman was joined by McLaren GT Driver Academy driver Andrew Watson, for his Sprint Cup debut. The pair finished P19 and P21 in the two races respectively.
Ledogar, who had already claimed a key victory at Monza earlier in the season helping Garage 59 secure the Blancpain Endurance Cup title, returned to the famous Italian circuit looking for his debut win in the International GT Open championship alongside teammate Alexander West.
The first of the weekend’s double-header saw the pair move through the field after qualifying P10. Strong pace throughout the race by both drivers, and quick work by the pitcrew saw the #88 650S GT3 challenging for a podium position, and a bold move by Ledogar in the closing stages secured valuable championship points and the final step of the podium. Starting P6 for the second race, Ledogar was quick to capitalise on the pace shown earlier moving up to P3 before the pitstop window opened. A strong stint by teammate West, and two well-judged overtakes saw the #88 take the lead in the closing stages to claim the pair’s first win of the season.
The second 650S GT3 in the race run by customer team Balfe Motorsport also enjoyed good fortunes, securing two top-10 finishes. This was headlined by a convincing drive from Shaun Balfe and Phil Keen, crossing the line P4 in the weekend’s opening race.