Ledogar leads two championships
Côme Ledogar has passed the mid-season mark in the four championships in which he is racing this year. As a McLaren GT factory driver he is competing in the Blancpain GT Series, and while the results in the Sprint Cup have not lived up to the expectations of the driver from Lyon, Ledogar and his team-mates are leading the Endurance Cup before the final round at the Nürburgring. In the International GT Open he has set pole in his McLaren 650S GT3 in the three meetings in which he has taken part. And he also leads the Porsche Carrera Cup Italia with Oleksandr Gaidai’s Tsunami RT.
Blancpain GT Series. Ledogar’s renown received a spectacular boost thanks to his two outright victories in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup, a championship that receives widespread media coverage. The overall level of the series is particularly high with a field varying between 52 and 65 cars representing 11 manufacturers driven by numerous professional racers. Thus, the sporting significance of a win obtained in such a closely-fought environment is absolutely incontestable. The Frenchman shares the wheel of the no. 58 Garage 59 McLaren with Englishman Rob Bell and New Zealander Shane Van Gisbergen. They won the opening round at the Monza 3 Hours by just three-tenths-of-a-second after a mind-boggling duel. In the Silverstone 3 Hours they finished sixth after which the trio won the Paul Ricard 1000 Km. There too the suspense reigned right till the very end after the leading Bentley briefly caught fire in its pit during its final refuelling stop and a Ferrari got to within three seconds of the McLaren in closing stages. In the Spa 24 Hours, the championship leaders briefly held first place and scored a few points at the 6-hour mark of the race. Unfortunately, a night-time collision with a tail-ender dropped them way down the timesheets, but they still have a nine-point lead in the championship. Shane, Rob and I form an evenly-matched team with different qualities and characteristics, says the Frenchman in the line-up. We’re very close in terms of performance and there’s good cohesion between us. Rob gave me a lot of help integrating the team right from the start of winter testing. He’s a really great guy both as a human being and as a team-mate. I didn’t meet Shane till the first race and we hit it off straight away. The McLaren 650S GT3 is reliable and fairly easy to drive making it a redoubtable weapon in endurance. It hasn’t got any major defects and is well balanced in all circumstances.
International GT Open. Côme is entered in another top-class GT championship with a Garage 59 McLaren. But his mission in the International GT Open is somewhat different. My team-mate, Alexander West, is almost a debutant so we’re really a Pro-Am line-up. The aim is to help him improve his skills. Coaching is also my job and I like to find such interesting opportunities to do it. Since the start of the season Alex had made enormous progress and I reckon he still has a lot of room for improvement. He’s having great fun at the wheel of the McLaren, which suits gentlemen drivers down to the ground. Ledogar also stood out with three pole positions and three fastest laps in three meetings. Each time he took the start he led for the whole of his stint. In terms of results the Franco-Swedish pair was on the podium at Spa followed by a top-five finish at Paul Ricard. The GT Open is a great championship. It’s not easy to stay in front but luckily the team is one of the best in the field. While Bas Leinders manages the outfit in the Blancpain Series, Tim Mullen, another talented driver who has recently swapped to the role of team manager, looks after the troops in GT Open.
Porsche Carrera Cup Italia. Ledogar was Porsche Carrera Cup France champion in 2014 and he just missed out on adding a second Porsche Cup title, in Italy this time, to his laurels last year. He is continuing his involvement alongside Ukrainian Oleksandr Gaidai at Tsunami RT, and hopes to achieve victory in the championship this season even though like last year he will miss a meeting because of a date clash with the GT Open calendar. He has won three sprint races and two long races (once with Gaidai). Although he has a good lead in terms of points the last two rounds won’t be a stroll in the park.