McLaren makes its mark on Le Mans return with pole position and strong race pace

9McLarenLeMans2024Car95
9McLarenLeMans2024Car95

The McLaren name returned to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, taking a historic pole position for the iconic race and further demonstrating race-leading pace as the McLaren GT3 EVO continues to impress in its debut season in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).

The two full-season United Autosports entries were joined by a third McLaren GT3 EVO from Inception Racing, which had gained an invitational entry to the race. This fulfilled Bronze driver Brendan Iribe’s dream to race a McLaren at Le Mans, the US driver having made his racing debut in the Pure McLaren GT Series – forerunner to the McLaren Trophy – 5 years previously. The Inception car began the weekend in style, making it through to the Hyperpole shootout for the eight fastest cars in each class. In a disrupted Hyperpole session, Iribe proved to be the class of the LMGT3 field, claiming a decisive pole position with a lap time almost a second faster than his nearest rival, placing the McLaren GT3 EVO at the head of the LMGT3 starting grid.

In front of a record-setting 329,000 fans, the Inception Racing McLaren GT3 EVO led the race for the opening hour, with Dane Fred Schandorff taking the first driving stint. Iribe took over at the 90-minute mark, with rain falling shortly after. The team chose to pit and change to wets, with Ollie Millroy jumping behind the wheel, only for the track to begin drying, necessitating a further stop for slick tyres. dropping the team to 14th place.

Meanwhile, the two United Autosports entries had begun an impressive progress through the field, entering the top ten in the second hour of the race. As the race matured, their positions fluctuated but they remained in strong contention.

Six hours in, Inception’s race was delayed following a spin and collision with the barrier, which required the radiator to be replaced. Despite quick work from the mechanics, a 28-minute delay ended their battle for the class victory.

The United Autosports cars continued to make progress during the night, and after a lengthy Safety Car period neutralised the race, the order fluctuated for the next few hours, with both cars frequently at the top of the class, and at one point running first and second.

Heavy rain during the night necessitated another long Safety Car intervention before racing resumed on Sunday morning. With both cars continuing to run at the front of the field, the #95 United Autosports car driven by Nico Pino, Hiroshi Hamaguchi and Marino Sato made an unscheduled stop just before midday and was subsequently retired from the race.

The #59 car, driven by Nicolas Costa, Gregoire Saucy and James Cottingham and which was also in podium contention having led the race, stopped on track and could not be recovered to the pits. This left the #70 Inception car in the running and the team completed the full 24 hours 13th in class.

“The weekend had a lot of ups and downs. Le Mans is a tough race, and it’s full of emotion. We started off the week, and we achieved something that I never dreamed of in taking pole position, and I think that was already a win to take home.

Then we jumped into the race, and it was long and hard, but we crossed the line. I’m really proud of the team. I’ve loved the journey, it’s been incredible. There’s a lot of emotion around it, and to go from Pure McLaren to McLaren’s first pole position at Le Mans is just a dream come true, and we made history. McLaren is back!”
Brendan Iribe, 2024 Le Mans LMGT3 Pole winner

“A knife edge race from start to finish. Twenty four hour races aren’t meant to be easy but when you throw in the weather and the track conditions, it was very tough. In LMGT3, we put up a strong fight with established teams and manufacturers. The retirements were disappointing but I’m super proud of everyone. All of the United Autosports and McLaren Automotive team can be really proud…and the LMGT3 drivers have been an absolute dream to work with.”
Richard Dean, CEO, United Autosports

“Congratulations to Brendan Iribe and Inception Racing on completing the full 24 hours. Qualifying a McLaren on pole at Le Mans after our return is incredible and we take great pride in realising his dream to race a McLaren at this iconic race.

To see the United Autosports McLaren GT3 EVOs running first and second after 125 laps of everything Le Mans can throw at them, including changeable weather conditions, just reconfirms we have the performance and determination to win. We can take many positives from our return to Le Mans and we will build on this strong performance.”
Michael Leiters, Chief Executive Officer, McLaren Automotive

McLaren at Le Mans 2024 Photo Gallery

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