• McLaren makes its FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) debut with racing partner United Autosports
  • McLaren GT3 EVO demonstrates strong pace at Lusail International Circuit
  • Both cars finish the race, collectively completing 568 laps

McLaren, alongside racing partners United Autosports, achieved a double finish on its FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) debut at the weekend (March 2), in the Qatar 1812km race held on Lusail International Circuit, site of the first event of the 2024 WEC season.

The two McLaren GT3 EVO cars had a strong start to race preparations with Gregoire Saucy in the number 59 car posting the fastest LMGT3 lap time in the Prologue held in the lead up to the event. This was followed by Nico Pino in the number 95 car topping the timesheets in the first practice session for the race.

In qualifying the two McLaren GT3 EVOs locked out the fourth row of the LMGT3 grid after a strong performance ensured both cars made it into the Hyperpole top-ten shoot out. James Cottingham qualified the number 59 car in seventh, one place ahead of fellow Bronze-ranked driver Josh Caygill.

As the lights went out, the 37-car grid thundered over the line, unfortunately the number 59 car was hit from behind, sending it off the road and into the pits for a lengthy repair. With over nine hours of racing still ahead Nicolas Costa got his head down and started to lap as quick as the leading cars as he made up for lost time.

By comparison the 95 car, with Caygill behind the wheel, managed to avoid trouble in the opening laps to settle into a good rhythm just inside the top ten. After running a double stint, he pitted to hand over to team-mate Pino just as a Full Course Yellow was called, following contact involving the number 59 car. While the car was not significantly damaged in the impact, repairs slowed its progress through the field.

By half distance the cars were continuing to run well, including the number 59 car, now with single-seater convert Saucy on board. After recording the fourth fastest lap of all the LMGT3 competitors during the race, Marino Sato crossed the line in 13th place in the number 95 McLaren GT3 EVO, just ahead of Saucy. The cars collectively completed 568 laps, or 1,912 miles after 9 hours and 55 minutes of racing, gaining valuable mileage and data in the process.

“It’s been a lot of work to get here in the short period of time since this project kickstarted. There are lots of positives; there is lots of pace in the car and we’re super happy with the driver line-up. The team and McLaren have worked so hard to be here so qualifying with both cars through to Hyperpole was a real boost. During the race we had some incidents on track and a couple of technical issues, but everyone pushed hard to get both cars through the Qatar 1812KM for the first ever race of the new LMGT3 era.”
Richard Dean, CEO, United Autosports

“We are proud to be part of the World Endurance Championship and to be on the grid for our debut race here in Qatar. We will take away a huge amount of positives from the weekend given the short period of time that both ourselves, and United Autosports, have had to prepare for the programme.

“I’d like to thank both the team at Woking and United Autosports for their hard work and dedication to ensure that both cars raced competitively to the finish. I’m confident that we will continue to build momentum as we head to the next round at Imola.”
Mick McDonagh, Director of MSO Motorsport, McLaren Automotive               


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