BLANCPAIN: Garage 59 McLaren wins 1000km race

BLANCPAIN: Garage 59 McLaren wins 1000km race

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BLANCPAIN: Garage 59 McLaren wins 1000km race

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Garage 59 McLaren trio Rob Bell, Come Ledogar and Shane van Gisbergen held off a charging Alessandro Pier Guidi in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup’s Paul Ricard 1000km.

The McLaren 650 S GT3 was rarely the fastest car in a race that looked destined to be heading the way of Bentley, but its crew crucially made fewer mistakes and now hold the championship lead heading into the Spa 24 Hours after their second win of 2016.

The six-hour race was ultimately decided in Garage 59’s favour by a flurry of activity shortly before the five-hour mark, which coincided with a debris-induced full-course yellow.

M-Sport and Garage 59 reacted to the caution by bringing Andy Soucek and van Gisbergen in for their final stops at the same time, while AF Corse left Pier Guidi’s Ferrari out.

This would have set up a battle to the finish between the two British marques, but Soucek’s Bentley Continental GT3 caught fire in the pits and lost almost a full lap before rejoining a frustrated fourth.

Once Pier Guidi had emerged from his own final stop under green, van Gisbergen inherited a comfortable lead that he kept to the flag, although Pier Guidi gave spirited chase and finished just 3.4 seconds in arrears.

Despite starting 20th, the WRT Audi shared by a guesting Jan Magnussen, Filipe Albuquerque and Rodrigo Baptista completed the podium ahead of Soucek’s recovering Bentley, which had led for much of the race in the hands of Wolfgang Reip and Maxime Soulet despite serving a drive-through penalty for a full-course yellow infringement.

Their sister car had also led in the early stages with Guy Smith at the wheel, but worsening ABS problems required a lengthy pitstop that meant they could only recover to 13th.

An unscheduled late stop for Yelmer Buurman’s Black Falcon Mercedes promoted the RJN Nissan to fifth, despite a spin for Mitsunori Takaboshi in the early stages.

Elsewhere, it was a difficult day for the championship contenders.

A lack of straightline speed had blunted Mercedes’ attack all day, but a clever strategy had put erstwhile points leader HTP into fourth when Maxi Buhk ground to a halt on the Mistral with gearbox problems.

WRT was unable to capitalize on HTP’s misfortune and could only salvage 19th after Dries Vanthoor came off second best in light contact with Ledogar during the middle portion of the race.

The Kessel Racing Ferrari took also took a second victory of the season in the Pro-Am division, as Michal Broniszewski, Alessandro Bonacini and Andrea Rizzoli held off the challenge of AF Corse’s Matt Griffin, Duncan Cameron and Davide Rizzo.

Originally on Autosport.com

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