PODIUM FINISH IN SEPANG SECURES SECOND CHAMPIONSHIP FOR THE McLAREN 650S GT3
25 Jan 2016. McLaren Dubai News.
The McLaren 650S GT3 claimed the first silverware of the 2016 season as GT customer team Clearwater Racing took the final podium position in a dramatic three hour race in Sepang. The result was enough to maintain the hard-earned lead in both the team and driver championships, and secure the second title for the 650S GT3. Factory Driver Rob Bell, alongside teammates Mok Weng Sun and Keita Sawa, ended the season with three pole positions and two wins.
Despite not needing to win to take the overall title, the team went in to the season finale was determined to end on a high, and Bell secured a second row start for the 650S GT3. Underlining the competitiveness of the grid, the top three cars were split by less than 0.4 seconds as the qualifying session came to an end.
The three hour endurance race saw Clearwater Racing continually pressuring for the lead, with Mok and Sawa maintaining a podium position and managing the gap to the leaders. Bell took over for the final hour, and immediately started to close the gap to the leaders. The charge continued as the clock ticked down and, with less than 15 minutes remaining, Bell was looking to challenge for the lead. However, the Clearwater Racing pitcrew was called in to action when a late puncture ended the chance of a win. Quick work by the team had Bell back out on track with minimal delay, and in the closing stages the British driver worked to reduce the deficit once again, eventually bringing the 650S GT3 home for the third podium finish of the championship, and securing the title.
Rob Bell, Factory Driver, McLaren GT
‘We all knew going in to the final race that the race would be a challenge, and the grid was the biggest and most competitive it had been all season, but everyone focused on what they had to do. The team did a fantastic job over the weekend, as they have all year, and I would like to thank and congratulate everyone at Clearwater Racing, especially my teammates Mok Weng Sun and Keita Sawa for the great drives, and putting me in such a strong position for the final stint. We were unlucky with the tyre late on, and there was some concern that all the hard work over the season would be lost, but the pitcrew did a great job and we did enough to secure the final podium position. A final thank you must go to the team from McLaren GT – both on the pitwall and back in Woking. The 650S GT3 has been bulletproof in terms of reliability in some of the most challenging conditions over the season, and it has been the car to beat at every round.’
Andrew Kirkaldy, Managing Director, McLaren GT
‘Congratulations to the entire Clearwater Racing team on another podium finish and taking the title in Sepang. The Asian Le Mans Series has proved to be hugely competitive this season, and has attracted talent from around the world, and the grid for the final race made for some great racing through all categories. The team was unlucky with the puncture near the end, but thankfully it didn’t ruin the weekend, and the championship win is a well deserved outcome for the efforts of the team and the drivers over the past few months.