Reigning Blancpain Endurance Cup Champion Garage 59 is set to return to the Blancpain GT Series this weekend with an Am Cup entry for Silverstone, as part of its preparations to compete in the Spa 24 Hours with a single McLaren 650S GT3. The 650S GT3 will be driven by BBC Top Gear’s Chris Harris, McLaren Automotive Chief Test Driver Chris Goodwin, and Garage 59 GT Open driver Alexander West.
This year the team – now managed by Tim Mullen – has changed its focus after its successes in 2016. The team is competing in the British GT Championship with a pair of 570S GT4s, as well as in the International GT Open with two 650S GT3s.
“The Blancpain Endurance Cup is fast proving itself to be the most competitive GT series in the world,” said Harris. “With ever-increasing grids and the world’s best professional drivers. The calibre of GT3 machinery on the grids is also great, with them all so closely matched in terms of performance – it is a real spectacle for the fans, and really rewarding to be involved with as a driver.
“The McLaren was the car of the field in 2016, and it is great to join the reigning champions Garage 59 for these two races alongside Chris and Alex. I am particularly excited about returning to Spa – it is a special place for any car fan, and to have the opportunity to race in the 24-hour race again, this time in a McLaren, should be a pretty special experience.”
TV personality Harris joins the lineup following a full-season campaign in the Blancpain Endurance Series in 2016 with Team Parker, carrying a wealth of experience of both Silverstone and Spa circuits.
As McLaren Automotive Chief Test Driver, Goodwin carries an extensive knowledge of the 650S GT3. He also brings a great wealth of racing experience of both Silverstone and, more recently, Spa-Francorchamps. His racing history with McLaren dates back to the late 90s, driving the McLaren F1 GTR with Parabolica McLaren, though his last competitive outing in the Blancpain Endurance Series was a one-off appearance in a 12C GT3 at the Spa 24 Hours in 2013 alongside Bruno Senna and Rob Barff.
“The level of competition is very high in the championship and, at a race like Spa, it is no longer about cruising around and getting the car to the finish line,” said Goodwin. “It is a full-on sprint race from when the lights go out. Garage 59 and the 650S GT3 proved they were combination to beat last year and, with Chris and Alex, I believe we have a strong line-up which will work well together. I am looking forward to getting back on track at Silverstone in a couple of weeks.”
Alexander West meanwhile, also knows Spa and Silverstone well. He’s is currently competing in the GT Open Championship with Garage 59 alongside McLaren GT Factory Driver Côme Ledogar, after a successful year in 2016 which saw him take race wins at both the Belgian and British circuit driving a 650S GT3.
“It has been great working with Garage 59 last season and so far in 2017, and we have had some strong results so far,” added West. “It is really exciting to be involved in this project, racing in one of the most exciting GT series, and at two of the most iconic circuits anywhere in the world.
“Chris Goodwin has been influential in my journey from 650S road car, through to the McLaren P1TM, McLaren P1TM GTR and then racing the 650S GT3, so to get the opportunity to race with both him and Chris Harris is a very exciting prospect.”
The next round of Blancpain Endurance Series takes place at Silverstone, UK, 13-14 May in the format of a three-hour endurance race. The Total Spa 24 Hours takes place over the weekend, 27-30 July.
Photo courtesy of Garage 59