19 March 2024 | Uncategorised

McLennan Motorsport reveals leading Bathurst 6 Hour contender

McLennan Motorsport has taken the covers off its Hasting Deering-supported BMW M4 entry ahead of its big push for success in the Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour next week.

The three-driver team will feature young gun Tom McLennan, joined by Bathurst 1000 podium finisher David Russell and 2021 6 Hour winner Shane Smollen.

Hasting Deering, a leader in the sales and service of Caterpillar machinery and earthmoving equipment, will be the major partner for the team’s effort.

To support the partnership, four Hasting Deering staff have been be selected to be part of the McLennan Motorsport team during the 6 Hour race weekend.

Also supporting the team’s attempt in the annual mountain production car race include VideoPro, Creative Conversions, Dayco and Prestige Connex.

The striking chrome look on the M4, the same chassis that won the race in the hands of Shane van Gisbergen, Smollen and Rob Rubis in 2021, will be one of the leading 6 Hour contenders, competing in Class X amongst a horde of other BMWs vying for the outright victory.

BMW enjoys an unbeaten record in the Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour and has risen to the fore since the inaugural event in 2016 courtesy of its M models. Since 2018, M3s, M4s and M2s have dominated the production car classic not only in results, but on the entry list as well being the marque of choice for outright contenders.

The M4 has taken three race wins and has emerged as the performance model to have to greet the chequered flag first.

McLennan is regarded as a rising star of the sport. After competing in Formula Ford and Porsche Michelin Sprint Challenge in recent years, the 19 year old will step up to the competitive Carrera Cup Championship in 2024. He also competed in the recent Bathurst 12 Hour in the GT4 class, finishing second in his class with Method Motorsport.

Russell needs no introduction to the racing scene, having started in production car racing, a successful professional career has followed, highlighted by multiple victories in national competition and two visits to the podium in the Bathurst 1000 (2021 and 2023).

Smollen is a former Bathurst 6 Hour winner and will represent the team as its ‘Am’ racer. Smollen won the 6 Hour in 2021 and was also the class winner in the inaugural GT4 Australia Series last year.

The team will be led by respected car builder and manager Aaron Reed. He has enjoyed success twice in the 6 Hour race, building and running the winning BMWs in 2019 for Beric Lynton and Tim Leahey, plus the 2021 success with van Gisbergen, Smollen and Rubis.

The Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour will be held on its traditional Easter weekend date, with practice on Friday, March 29. More practice and qualifying will run on Saturday ahead of the big race on Sunday.

Tom McLennan

“This program has been in the works since the start of 2023, so it’s really exciting to reveal our BMW,” said McLennan.

“We did the 6 Hour in A1 Class last year and we enjoyed the weekend so much that we decided to come back with our own team and own car and control our own destiny.

“We have some really great sponsors for the race and a strong driver line-up. On paper, we feel that we have a strong entry, so it looks like to will be a good weekend.

“We can’t thank Hastings Deering enough. I’m looking forward to representing them in the race, and to have four of their apprentices come down with us to be part of the team is exciting. Hopefully we get a good result.

“I’ve been getting plenty of laps at Bathurst in recent times. We did the last round of Sprint Challenge there in November, and got even more laps in the 12 Hour. You can’t do many more laps around there in one day, so I feel very prepared for this race.”

David Russell

“My career started in production cars. I’ve always loved the cars and the variety,” said Russell.

“To come back again in X class, to be in outright contention, driving a car that has previously won the race … the ingredients for our team is very good.

“I’ve done lots of these 6 Hours, and the biggest thing, and it sounds cliche, but you buy a ticket to the last stint. You need to keep your nose clean, get your stops out of the way and be in a position to fight at the end.

“The last stint is gruelling. The car is hot, the sun is in your eyes, so getting the car to that last stint without any damage needs to be the plan.

“Our driver line-up is very strong. It has been great to see Tom contest the Bathurst 12 Hour and get a podium. Now he is stepping up to Carrera Cup, so it’s great to be able to mentor him through this process. I’m sure he is going to do a good job and have some great stints in the car.”

Shane Smollen

“For us, it’s all about being calm and executing on the day,” said Smollen.

“There’s no use focusing on lead driver speed, you need to execute the strategy across the whole weekend.”.

“If you lose 10-15 sec during the race, it can be enough to make the last stint very hard for any level driver, given we are against some of Australia’s fastest professionals “

“So if you nail the one percenters on track and in pit lane there’s the opportunity of a great result. You need to keep your head on and make sure every action is thought through properly. That’s where experience can count, but at the end, of course, it will still be up to one of our pros to push to the end in the last stint. We can’t rely on late safety cars – we have to be thereabouts although having said that anybody on the lead lap is a shot “

”Tom has a calm mature head for his age. He has an excellent turn of speed and he constantly brings race cars back to the pits well positioned and in one piece. I can certainly see his star rising. There’s no doubt that a win for us in the 6 Hour would only boost him further.

“I’ve teamed-up with David in the past too. His track record says enough. We raced Carrera Cup Pro-Am together in 2013 and have kept in touch – it would be awesome to share the top step. He is clearly fast and consistent and a huge asset to our team in terms of pace, strategy and set up. And full credit to team owner Grant McLennan for bringing such a high level of preparation and professionalism to this event.”

Aaron Reed
Team Manager, McLennan Motorsport

“We’re going there to win it. That’s what the whole program is about,” he said.

“I built this car four years ago. It has had success before and we want to go back and get that number spot on the podium again.

“We’ve done quite a few upgrades to the BMW. There’s been lots of learnings during testing and we feel that it’s been fine tuned to make it as good as it can be.

“It is a hard race, but the recipe is simple – You’ve got to buy a ticket to the last hour. That’s the key. If everyone does their job, we stay out of trouble while passing slow cars, keeping our head, then there’s a good chance that we’ll be in a winning spot at the end.

“The 6 Hour is one of the best Bathurst events that we do. It’s just an enjoyable weekend. I’d love to try and get on the top step again.”

Emma Hansford
General Manager – Strategy, Marketing & Digital (Sime Darby Industrial – Australasia).

“Hastings Deering is proud to extend its support of Australian motorsport with our new partnership with McLennan Motorsport in the Bathurst 6 Hour,” said Emma Hansford.

“The driver line-up will be one of the strongest in the race and the car looks immaculate. We hope to see it on the podium at the end of the endurance race.

“We’re also very pleased with the team’s initiative of having four of our up and coming talent come along for the ride with the team for the race. It’s great to see our star technicians get the opportunity to be involved in such a competitive environment at Australia’s best race track.”