28 August, 2015
McLaren GT factory driver Rob Bell and McLaren GT Young Driver Andrew Watson will line-up for the next round of International GT Open, taking place at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit, 5-6 September. Bell and Watson will be part of a two car entry by Teo Martin Motorsport, with fellow McLaren GT factory driver Alvaro Parente in the sister 650S GT3 who currently leads the championship with teammate Miguel Ramos with three rounds remaining.
The 2015 season saw the launch of the McLaren GT Young Driver Programme, with Watson and fellow young driver Ross Wylie embarking on an extensive programme. It has been designed to enhance the skills, knowledge and racecraft of both drivers, with a view to establishing a solid foundation on which to build a competitive career in GT racing. The programme offers access to the extensive and ongoing development programmes undertaken by McLaren GT for the 650S Sprint and 650S GT3 models. The season so far has also provided direct access to various aspects of the business including simulator testing, driver coaching and management, and media activities from a team of experts with a wealth of motorsport knowledge. These are all key elements which McLaren GT has access to in order to help the development of the cars, the business and the drivers’ own personal careers.
The International GT Open race presents the next level of challenges for Watson, including a new degree of competition on a fiercely contested grid, and working with a new teammate. However, Watson is confident of a strong performance following a promising outing resulting in a solid top 10 finish during the Avon Tyres British GT round at Spa. The young Northern Irish racer is also looking to make the most of the opportunity racing alongside Bell, who boasts a wealth of GT racing experience, including at Spa, and his knowledge of the 650S GT3.
Rob says of racing with Andrew, “I’ve been working closely with Andrew this year with a coaching and mentoring programme designed to support him and help improve his driving and racing skills, using my many years of racing experience. Driving together takes this programme to another level as we’ll be sharing the same car. I hope that I’ll be able to provide Andrew with valuable feedback and advice so that he can further benefit from the McLaren GT Young Driver Programme. I’m looking forward to the race weekend.”
Andrew adds, ‘I am absolutely delighted to be given the opportunity to go back and race at Spa in a 650S GT3, I enjoyed my time there in British GT immensely and showed good pace throughout the weekend. Following on from that I went back to Spa to watch the 24 hour race and to see how the factory drivers operate, and witness the ultimate test of endurance, and the challenges that a 24 hour race presents to the team and drivers. It will be really interesting to work alongside Rob in a race- scenario having worked closely with him all year in testing. It is also great to have the opportunity to work with Teo Martin Motorsports in such an exciting championship.’
Andrew Kirkaldy, Managing Director, McLaren GT says of the news, ‘It is great that we are able to place these two drivers with one of our customer teams to participate in International GT Open. The team has proven they have an existing winning formula with Alvaro Parente and Miguel Ramos and it is great that we are able to add to this and hopefully gain some more valuable results for the team. Andrew has worked with Rob throughout 2015 to develop himself as a driver and we are hopeful that placing him with his mentor into a race scenario that the pairing will enjoy success.
The next round of International GT Open takes place at Spa-Francorchamps in the format of a 70 minute sprint race on Saturday 5 September, and a 60 minute sprint race on Sunday 7 September.