McLaren returns to Mount Panorama

McLaren returns to Mount Panorama with Australian Customer Team 59Racing fielding two 720SGT3 entries, one each in the Pro and Silver classes.

For 59Racing, which was only established in 2019 it is the first Bathurst event and a great opportunity to build on the hard work from the past 12 months in Australia GT.

The ’59’ in the team branding represents a number of significance to the McLaren brand, the 1995 LeMans 24 Hour winning car carrying the number en route to victory that year.

Alvaro Parente has rejoined forces with the marque he won the event with in 2016, and will be joined by McLaren factory driver Ben Barnicoat, with Tom Blomqvist completing the driver roster.

Winner of the 2016 Bathurst 12 Hour with McLaren, Parente has also previously won the Pirelli World Challenge in the United States with McLaren.

“Bathurst is a great track with a lot of happy memories for me, so to be able to go back there with McLaren and 59Racing is very exciting,” he said.

“There are a lot of familiar faces in the team, so I am very confident heading into the race that we can do a good job.”

Parente will be joined Barnicoat, who was recently in action in Australia as part of the Asian Le Mans Series event earlier this month at the wheel of an LMP2 machine.

His career started in open wheelers where he was a race winner in Formula 3 European Championship competition.

Barnicoat has also recorded wins with McLaren, driving a McLaren 570S GT4 to victory in the British GT Championship in 2018, and is a factory driver with the marque for 2020.

“A huge thanks goes to 59Racing for the opportunity to race at Mount Panorama,” Barnicoat said.

“It’s one of those bucket list circuits in world motorsport, so I’m really looking forward to driving the McLaren 720S GT3 around there.

“It’s even more exciting that it’s the first year the car has raced there, so there will be some learning to do but we know the car and team are up to the task. It’s been a few years since I’ve raced there, and I can’t wait to get back.”

Completing the roster is British racer Tom Blomqvist, who finished second in the 2014 Formula 3 European Championship before competed in DTM for three years.

An experienced racer, he’s enjoyed success in Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup competition and was part of the 2018 24 Hours of Spa race winning team.

The highly credentialed 26-year-old has also competed in Formula E and the American IMSA SportsCar Championship.

“I am very much looking forward to joining 59Racing at Bathurst and driving the McLaren 720S,” he said.

“Having never raced at Bathurst before it looks like a very challenging circuit, but I have some great co-drivers that I’m sure will help me.

“I’m looking forward to racing with the Alvaro, Ben, and the whole team.”