McLaren 650S GT3 claims Maiden Blancpain Endurance Series Victory
The McLaren 650S GT3 secured the top step of the podium in the second round of the Blancpain Endurance Series with a convincing victory for McLaren GT customer team Von Ryan Racing at Silverstone. With factory drivers Rob Bell, Shane van Gisbergen and Kevin Estre at the wheel, this marks the first win in the Blancpain Endurance Series for the 650S GT3 in its competitive debut season.
Based on the groundbreaking 650S Coupe, the 650S GT3 has made a strong start to its competitive campaign in 2015, building on the third place finish scored by Von Ryan Racing with Bell and Estre when joined by fellow McLaren GT driver Alvaro Parente at the Gulf 12 Hour 2014. To date, the latest model from McLaren GT has secured podium finishes in five championships at circuits across North America, Portugal, the UK and France. The Von Ryan Racing team now lies second in the Blancpain Endurance Series Pro Cup standings, while fellow McLaren GT customer team K-PAX Racing / Flying Lizard Motorsports lead the Pirelli World Challenge manufacturer’s trophy in North America.
At Silverstone, the striking orange 650S GT3 wearing #58, showed early pace in qualifying, topping the timesheets at the end of the first session. The times continued to fall over the remaining qualifying sessions, and the Pro driver trio secured a 4th-place start for the three-hour endurance race.
Rob Bell, starting at his home race, showed his experience in the opening stint and was pushing hard for a podium place as the lights went green, moving up to 2nd shortly before a full course caution brought the race under yellow flags. A bold strategy call and quick work by the team saw Bell hand over to Shane van Gisbergen, making his Silverstone debut, rejoin the race with a lead of more than 40 seconds. The New Zealander continued where Bell had left off, and quickly found his rhythm in the 650S GT3, maintaining the lead as the final hour approached. The #59 Von Ryan Racing McLaren was challenging for a second podium position finish, before suffering heavy contact during the closing stages, forcing works driver Alvaro Parente to retire, but nothing was going to stop Kevin Estre on his final sprint to the finish. The young Frenchman brought the car home with a 23 second lead, securing the first victory for the 650S GT3 in the highly competitive Blancpain Endurance Series.
Mike Flewitt, Chief Executive Officer, McLaren Automotive
‘It is great to see a McLaren taking victory, especially at the home of British motorsport. Since its launch last year, the 650S has been winning awards and fans the world over, and the 650S GT3 is proving as popular and successful on track. It is fantastic to be adding further trophies to the collection with our latest model based on the groundbreaking supercar, especially as we prepare to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the famous win of a McLaren-built endurance GT car, the McLaren F1 GTR at Le Mans. This underlines the philosophy at McLaren that it is important to never stop striving to be the best, and looking ahead to the next victory.’
Andrew Kirkaldy, Managing Director, McLaren GT
‘The 650S GT3 is quickly establishing itself as the car to be in for 2015, and this latest win in the Blancpain Endurance Series, which is arguably the most competitive global GT championship, shows what a true contender it is. McLaren GT has worked closely with the teams since the opening round in Monza to further improve and optimise every area of performance. The drivability of the 650S GT3 has been strong since the first race, scoring a podium at every race weekend since it launched, and the drivers showed the true potential during qualifying and on race day. Combine this with the quick thinking by the team with the strategy call, and the 650S GT3 was simply uncatchable around Silverstone.’