09 March, 2016
McLaren GT Factory Driver Rob Bell and fellow factory drivers Côme Ledogar, Alvaro Parente and Shane van Gisbergen will join forces with the drivers in the recently announced McLaren GT Driver Academy as part of bold plans by customer team Garage 59 to contest the Blancpain Endurance Series and Blancpain Sprint Series. The team will take part in a 10-date calendar visiting some of the most iconic circuits in Europe.
Rob, CoÌ‚me and Shane will contest the Blancpain Endurance Series alongside McLaren GT Academy Drivers Andrew Watson (NI), Struan Moore (JE) and Alex Fontana (CH). The six drivers will join the British-based team and share two McLaren 650S GT3 racers in arguably the most competitive GT3 championship globally. The five-date Series calendar commences in Monza, Italy (23-24 April) and also includes the famous Total 24 Hours of Spa.
Alongside these ambitious plans, Garage 59 has also confirmed entry into the Blancpain Sprint Series with the 650S GT3. Rob returns to the Series following a strong season in 2015, and the 36 year old Brit will share driving responsibilities for the five-event European calendar with Alvaro. The driver pairing scored a podium on the competitive debut of the 650S GT3 at the Gulf 12 Hour in 2014.
Rob says of the announcement, “I’m really pleased to be returning to the two Blancpain GT Series and sharing the cars with my fellow McLaren GT factory drivers. Garage 59 has put together a highly professional line up of drivers and team personnel, so I’m anticipating a highly competitive season and expect to be a regular visitor to the podium. I love racing the 650S GT3 and can’t wait to be back out on the great variety of track that feature in these two premier GT race series.”
To support the activities on track throughout the season, customer team Garage 59 has also confirmed the appointment of key staff from McLaren GT including Sporting Manager Bas Leinders. Acting as Team Manager throughout the season for the Blancpain GT Series, Leinders will work with the team on all Blancpain Endurance and Sprint Series races bringing strategic and key racing expertise to the pitwall.
Andrew Kirkaldy, Managing Director, McLaren GT, ‘The driver line-up in place with Garage 59 highlights the intentions the team has for the season. With a mixture of experience and exciting young talent in the roster of Factory and Academy Drivers, and key engineering and strategic support on the pitwall, the team is well-placed to be a true contender in the championship, building on the strong debut season for the 650S GT3 last year. Working closely with the team throughout the season ahead, and with valuable feedback available from the drivers in real-world race environments, it will also help us improve and develop the car further, benefitting all customer teams globally.’