When the McLaren 650S GT3 debuted, we were desperate to see just how well it would perform, and if it was actually worthy of the GT3 name. It has indeed performed well, and has now achieved a total of 24 wins since February of this year. Its most recent win came at Sepang this weekend after a grueling and challenging 12-hour race.

Racing in the Pro-AM category, McLaren factory driver Alvaro Parente and young driver Andrew Watson came together with Hiroshi Hamaguchi and Andrea Caldarelli from McLaren customer racing team FFF-Racing. As the race started, Parente ran the 650S steady in third place. It wasn’t until the first round of pitstops that the FFF-Racing team dropped down to fourth position. From there, they held that position until it began to rain and conditions became so bad the red flag flew and the safety car came out. By the time rain passed, the #55 650S GT3 was leading the Pro-AM class and ran consistently lap after lap.

The track remained wet through the end of the race, but the 493-horsepower McLaren 650S GT3 continued to hold its position, eventually finishing fourth overall and first in the Pro-AM class with Andrea Caldarelli behind the wheel. It should be noted that this was Andrew Watson’s first endurance race, but that was far from evident as he displayed excellent skill and drive to keep the 650S at the top of its class. The victory at Sepang has made 2015 the most successful campaign for McLaren GT since its debut, and this challenging race has given us even more reason to look forward to the next race in 2016.

Continue reading for the full story.

Why it matters

This was a great victory for both McLaren and FFF-Racing. FFF racing has already had a rather strong season, and this win is a good way to end out the year. As far as the McLaren and the 650S goes, both have proven they are a force to be reckoned with. As Andrew Kirkaldy, McLaren GT Managing Director, put it:

“The 650S GT3 has enjoyed a rich run of success this season with our customer teams across the world which started back in February. Since then, each of the teams have put the cars through the most rigorous and challenging season across the globe, and the competition on the grids has been of the highest level I can recall. Despite these demands, the 650S GT3 has proven itself as the car to beat on all continents and in each series.”

Needless to say, I’m looking forward to 2016 and how McLaren and its customer racing teams perform. McLaren fell shy of getting that podium finish in this last race, but the heart of each driver was in it 110 percent. Maybe if it wasn’t for that heavy rain, the 650S might have finished in the top three.

McLaren 650S GT3

2015 McLaren 650S GT3 High Resolution Exterior
- image 557792

Read our full review on the McLaren 650S GT3 here.

Press Release

The McLaren 650S GT3 claimed class victory and fourth place overall at the Sepang 12 Hours this weekend, bringing an end to the competitive debut season of the car, and crowning what has been the most successful campaign to-date for the Woking outfit. McLaren GT Factory Driver Alvaro Parente and Young Driver Andrew Watson joined customer team FFF-Racing to secure a hard-fought victory in the Pro-Am category, and narrowly missed a podium finish overall as the flag fell after 12 hours of close racing.

Teamed with Hiroshi Hamaguchi (JPN) and FFF Racing team principal Andrea Caldarelli (ITA), each driver has experienced victory with the 650S GT3 during the season, but this was the first time they quartet had shared driving responsibilities with each other. With the car arriving straight from the challenging streets of Macau where it competed in the FIA GT World Cup, the team and drivers showed strong pace in the early sessions and qualifying saw Parente secure third place on the grid with the #55 650S GT3.

The race started in the dry, with Parente holding third place, pushing the lead pair hard in the opening stint. Positions changed as the rounds of pitstops started, and dropping to fourth place overall, the FFF-Racing team maintained a strong hold over the Pro-Am class lead. After around four hours in, the rain started to fall, with conditions quickly deteriorating as the team maintained position. The conditions became so bad that the race was red-flagged before the grid was lined up to run behind the Safety Car as the rain eased off in the second half of the event.

As running recommenced, the #55 650S GT3 of FFF-Racing was in a strong position, leading the Pro-Am class, and running consistently quick laps closing the gap to the leaders in the tricky conditions. McLaren GT Young Driver Andrew Watson showed no signs to highlight it was his first endurance race, with strong lap times ensuring he maintained position around the 5.543km circuit. Track condition remained wet until the 12 hour mark with Caldarelli bringing the car home for class victory and fourth place overall. The win marks the 24th victory of the year, marking 2015 as the most successful campaign for McLaren GT since it debuted during 2012.

Andrew Kirkaldy, McLaren GT Managing Director

Congratulations to FFF-Racing on a well-deserved win and a great drive by all. It was a great effort by all the drivers. Team regulars Hiroshi [Hamaguchi] and Andrea [Caldarelli] again proved to be quick, building on the strong season they have enjoyed this year, and showed their skills in challenging conditions. Young Driver Andrew [Watson] should be commended for his drive and how he handled the race as part of the McLaren GT Young Driver Programme, we have looked to push him and improve his skill-set throughout the season, and this weekend was the biggest challenge so far this season which he relished. Alvaro [Parente] also showed his professionalism and quality, as he has all year, and once again proved himself as one of the most consistently fast drivers on the grid.

‘The result in Sepang marks the 24th win of the season, and the 650S GT3 has enjoyed a rich run of success this season with our customer teams across the world which started back in February. Since then, each of the teams have put the cars through the most rigorous and challenging season across the globe, and the competition on the grids has been of the highest level I can recall. Despite these demands, the 650S GT3 has proven itself as the car to beat on all continents and in each series.

‘The first race of 2016 will see the 650S GT3 looking to extend the championship lead in the Asian Le Mans Series so the winter break will only be brief, but we will continue to push with the development programme and fight to remain at the front of the grid.

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