Victory at Melbourne’s Albert Park for the track-only Super Series model on competitive customer debut
Race wins and further podium finishes for McLaren 570S GT4 in Australia and United States
The McLaren 720S GT3 scored pole position and a memorable victory on its first ever race in customer hands during the opening round of the Australian GT Championship at the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne, Australia. Newly-launched McLaren customer team 59Racing enjoyed strong results in both the GT3 and GT4 categories, racing as part of the support package for the opening round of the 2019 Formula 1 World Championship. The 570S GT4 of customer team Motorsports In Action also performed well in the United States to secure a podium finish, and now leads the Michelin Pilot Challenge.
The 720S GT3 made its customer team debut at the iconic Melbourne street circuit, driven by Australian GT regular Fraser Ross. The experience of the Melbourne local, combined with the strengths of the newly-developed 720S GT3, were evident over a one-lap sprint as he claimed P2 in the first qualifying session and topping the timesheets during the second qualifying session to secure the first ever pole position for the car.
The first of the weekend’s racing action saw Ross in a three-way battle for the lead throughout the opening laps of the 25-minute sprint race. A bold move in the latter stages of the race saw Ross take the lead and then gradually extend the gap to the chasing pack, eventually crossing the line with a 2.2 second lead to record the historic debut victory for the team and for the McLaren 720S GT3. Building on this success, the second race saw further silverware as Ross steered the 720S GT3 to a hard-fought P2 finish, and second podium of the weekend.
The 570S GT4 of 59Racing also enjoyed a strong weekend, driven by Ryan Simpson. Making his first ever race start in a McLaren, Simpson narrowly missed out on GT4 class victory in the opening race, crossing the line in P2. From here, the 31-year old went on to improve this result with three victories in the remaining races of the weekend.
The track-only Sports Series model was also racing in the USA over the weekend, in the support races at the FIA World Endurance Championship-IMSA double-header event at Sebring International Raceway in Florida. Customer team Motorsports In Action continued its strong start to the season with a second consecutive podium finish in the Michelin Pilot Challenge Grand Sport class.
Throughout the two-hour race, drivers Corey Fergus and Jesse Lazare were in the hunt for the overall race lead. As the race entered the final few laps, the duo in the #69 570S GT4 was still pushing for the top step of the podium. Despite their best efforts, and with the chasing pack closing the gap, the pair eventually crossed the line P3. As a result, the Canadian outfit now leads in the overall championship standings.
“This weekend has been hugely significant for our customer teams and the 720S GT3, but also for McLaren Customer Racing. I’d like to pass on my congratulations to 59Racing for taking pole position and race wins with both the 720S GT3 and 570S GT4 on the first outing for the team. Also, well done to Motorsports In Action after a great result in Sebring, which sees them now leading the championship.
“Any race win is a significant achievement, especially against such strong opposition. However, this first win for the 720S GT3 is a particularly proud moment for McLaren Customer Racing. We have seen the car performing strongly throughout the testing programme, but it is really great to see the car competing on track with the first of our customer teams, and hitting the ground running with a pole position and race win straight out of the box is a very strong foundation on which to build.”
Dan Walmsley, Motorsport Director, McLaren Automotive.