The McLaren 650S GT3 claimed its first championship over the weekend in Barcelona as McLaren GT customer team Teo Martin Motorsports secured the International GT Open Championship title, and also saw the first victory for the McLaren GT Young Driver Programme. A hard-fought double podium finish for factory driver Alvaro Parente and teammate Miguel Ramos secured the championship, while Young Driver Andrew Watson took overall victory in the weekend’s opening sprint race alongside Fernando Monje. A third 650S GT3, entered by customer team Peter Kox Racing also secured fastest lap of the race to reinforce the dominant display.
Still only in its debut competitive season, the results in Barcelona underline the success from the outset for the latest model from the Woking-based outfit. The 650S GT3 is based on the road-going 650S Coupe, with a lightweight carbon fibre MonoCell chassis and award-winning 3.8-litre twin turbo V8 engine. It launched at the Goodwood Festival of Speed last summer, and made a strong debut at the Gulf 12 Hours in December 2014, finishing on the podium. These latest results mark the 20th victory, with an additional 23 podium finishes.
The result also highlighted the achievement of the inaugural Young Driver Programme from McLaren GT, with Andrew Watson taking overall race victory in the weekend’s first event. This success is the culmination of a season-long programme which has seen Watson – and fellow young driver Ross Wylie – integrated in to the McLaren GT operations, supported by factory drivers and experienced engineering and technical teams, and placed with customer teams to provide an in-situ support programme to develop and establish a solid foundation within GT racing.
Andrew Kirkaldy, Managing Director, McLaren GT
‘Congratulations to Teo Martin and the entire team at Teo Martin Motorsports on securing a win, two podiums and the overall International GT Open title in one weekend. A fantastic weekend of results for the team, and a real high point to end the season on for the first McLaren GT Young Driver Programme with Andrew [Watson] taking the overall win in the first race.
‘These latest results are the end result of a long hard season by the team at Teo Martin Motorsports and by the entire team at McLaren GT in Woking. This season is one of the most competitive I can recall in GT3 racing, with global grids boasting some of the most talented drivers, and with a range of manufacturers and models that are all capable of contesting and winning races. We have seen some fantastic battles in every series, and for the 650S GT3 to be claiming podiums and victories in all championships, and now securing a title in its debut season, really highlights just how competitive a proposition it is.
‘Andrew’s victory underlines the progress and development achieved as a result of the direction and support offered by the Young Driver Programme, and is the perfect end to what has been a strong first year of the scheme. Both Andrew and Ross [Wylie] have shown real promise each time they have been in a car, and they have responded well to each of the challenges presented to them over the course of the season, improving and learning from each experience. To secure victory against an extremely competitive grid on a track he has never raced on before is a real achievement for Andrew, and is a true credit to him and the support network we have put in place for him.’
Alvaro Parente, Factory Driver, McLaren GT
“The 650S GT3 has established itself as the car to beat during 2015 in series across the world, taking victories in Europe, Asia and North America. The results in Barcelona, and securing the championship, reinforce that message and highlight just how competitive the car is. There have been some great battles throughout the season, and to secure the title with Teo Martin Motorsports is a fantastic achievement – both for the team and for McLaren GT. The 650S GT3 has more than proved itself with bulletproof reliability, and a double podium was a great way to end the season. Thank you to all of the team at Teo Martin Motorsports, my teammate Miguel [Ramos] and to the team back in Woking.’
Andrew Watson, Young Driver, McLaren GT
‘Firstly, I would like to say a huge thank you to the team at Teo Martin Motorsports for the support given to me over the course of the weekend, and for the opportunity to race in Barcelona. The season has been one of the most challenging experiences of my life, but the Young Driver Programme has helped me improve and develop as a driver and as a person to enable me to be in a position to challenge for a victory. It has been a bit of a rollercoaster in terms of results and experiences, but I have worked closely with the team at McLaren GT to take the best out of everything and build on them, and I would like to dedicate the race win to everyone who has helped me on this journey.’
This article first appeared on cars.mclaren.com.