The McLaren 650S GT3 returns to the track this weekend as the third round of the Asian Le Mans Series championship takes place at Buriram, Thailand. McLaren GT factory driver Rob Bell rejoins Clearwater Racing, alongside teammates Mok Weng Sun and Keita Sawa, and is looking to build on the race win secured in Malaysia which extended the championship lead.
The race in Thailand marks the first competitive outing for the 650S GT3 in 2016 after a strong debut campaign in 2015. Customer teams enjoyed success across the globe with the first race win for the 650S GT3 recorded by Kevin Estre at round 1 of the Pirelli World Challenge by K-PAX Racing / Flying Lizard Motorsports at the Circuit of the Americas. Estre was on the top step of the podium again in Europe alongside fellow Factory Drivers Bell and Shane Van Gisbergen as the trio brought the Von Ryan Racing 650S GT3 home for victory in arguably the most competitive GT championship, the Blancpain Endurance Series. The trio secured victory at Silverstone, UK and, at the final round at the Nürburgring, Germany, the 650S GT3 become the only car to take two wins in the series. The team also secured a front row start and a hard-fought top 10 finish at the gruelling 24 Hours of Spa.
In the inaugural season of the McLaren GT Young Driver programme, Andrew Watson and Ross Wylie performed well in various championships with six top-10 finishes in the British GT Championship to finish second in the Silver-Cup category. Watson also enjoyed success in Barcelona with customer team Teo Martin Motorsports with victory in the International GT Open championship. The team, with factory Driver Alvaro Parente at the wheel, also won the overall championship after taking three victories and six further podiums across Europe – the first title for the 650S GT3.
Other key achievements of the debut season included the maiden victory in Asia at Okayama, Japan with customer team FFF Racing Team by ACM in the GT Asia championship and a poignant double win for New Zealand Factory Driver Shane Van Gisbergen on home soil at the Highlands 101.