Monday, 02 December 2019 18:35

Mia Flewitt takes McLaren GT Series title in Bahrain

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Mia Flewitt successfully defends Pure McLaren GT Series championship title

Race wins for Al-Khalifa, Ojjeh and Proctor as 2019 season concludes in Bahrain

The final event of the 2019 FIA-approved Pure McLaren GT Series season took place in Bahrain on November 26-28 with a field of 19 McLaren 570S GT4 cars competing on the 5.412 km (3.363 mi) Sakhir circuit, also home to the Bahrain Grand Prix.

With the championship set to be decided, there was a lot at stake in the final three races of the season, with reigning champion Mia Flewitt aiming to fend off rookie challenger Nick Moss. Adding to the excitement, these would be the first ever Pure McLaren GT Series races to be held at night.

Heading both title contenders in qualifying on the opening day of the event, however, was invitation class driver Isa Al-Khalifa, who took pole position for race one. Points leader Flewitt would share the front of the grid, fastest of the championship competitors but Moss was unable to lap within a second of the pole time, and joined Issam Charrouf on the next row.

Despite dropping to fourth place on the opening lap, Al-Khalifa quickly recovered to win the opening race. Meanwhile there was plenty of action behind, mostly from Moss who tailed leader Flewitt on the opening tour before falling to fifth, sparking a stirring recovery drive. He’d already clawed his way back to third place as Charrouf dropped down the order, but Flewitt responded perfectly to win the championship points race, opening the gap to her closest rival.

Moss fared much better in qualifying on the second day, taking a front row slot alongside polesitter and Bruce McLaren Cup rival Patrice Gautier. Christian Buechel and Peter Karpati shared the second row, whilst Flewitt could only manage seventh place in the session.

Moss got the jump on Gautier to take an early lead in the race, but quickly lost out not just to the pole man, but also Karpati and Sultan Ojjeh. Title rival Flewitt also ensured fluctuating fortunes, initially losing two places before regaining them via a late charge that netted sixth overall – just one behind Moss – and now just three points short of a successful title defence.  The race was won by Ojjeh, who took the lead late on, with Karpati wresting second from Gautier.

Al-Khalifa returned for the final race and again set impressive times in qualifying to take pole position with Gautier completing the front row, ahead of Flewitt and Proctor. Moss, meanwhile, would start from sixth place on the grid.

This time, Al-Khalifa was unable to break away from the chasing pack and a thrilling race ensued, with Gautier and Proctor losing ground as Moss surged to second place and kept the leader under close scrutiny. In the tense battle that followed, Moss, Proctor and Flewitt swapped places but Al-Khalifa seemed set fair until the closing laps when the order shuffled dramatically. Proctor was the main beneficiary, taking the win from Al-Khalifa with Flewitt completing the podium – a net second place - ahead of Brendan Iribe and Moss.

Flewitt’s podium finish confirmed her second successive Pure McLaren GT Series championship, whilst Moss ended the season with the Bruce McLaren Cup title for the best rookie driver.

The Pure McLaren GT Series will return in 2020, with the new calendar set to be confirmed shortly.

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