The new McLaren 570S GT4 made an impressive debut at the opening round of the British GT Championship.



The new McLaren 570S GT4 made a strong debut in the British GT Championship at Brands Hatch over the weekend, as it started a season-long development programme in live race environments. Fielded by McLaren customer team Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse, the McLaren 570S GT4 was driven by Ciaran Haggerty, 19, and 16-year-old Sandy Mitchell, the youngest driver in British GT history.

The McLaren 570S GT4 complements and learns from McLaren’s existing 650S GT3 programme, but is designed to be more affordable over a season and offers the perfect introduction to GT racing. Naturally, the race car shares the 570S Coupé road car’s carbon fibre MonoCell II chassis architecture and its mid-mounted twin turbocharged 3.8-litre V8 engine.


With conditions changeable for qualifying, the two young Scottish drivers quickly got to grips with the 570S GT4, lining up seventh on the grid in the GT4 class with an aggregate time of 3:07.280.

The 570S GT4 is really nice to drive,’ says Ciaran, who previously raced in F4 and won the 2014 Scottish Formula Ford 1600 Championship. ‘It’s much more forgiving than a single-seater, so you can take more kerb, and McLaren has done a great job with the engine, there’s no turbo lag at all.

Schoolboy Sandy – who contested the MSA Formula last year and won the British Super One Junior kart championship in 2014 – took the wheel for the first stint of the race’s scheduled 120 minutes. He made a solid start, kept out of trouble as the pack cascaded through Paddock Hill Bend, and pulled some bold overtakes on the outside of Hawthorns bend. Sadly, a pile-up at Pilgrims Drop brought out the full-course yellows, and the cars circulated at low speed while damaged cars were recovered and barriers were repaired. The yellow flags were still waving when Sandy handed over to Ciaran in P4.

‘I was pleased with that,’ says Sandy. ‘I was quite nervous at first and just focused on remembering everything: I hadn’t done a rolling start, a driver change or had in-car radio before. The car was great. It’s got more power than a single-seater, but the GT4 regulations limit the aerodynamic upgrades McLaren can make, so it moves around a little bit. It’s a great feeling.’


The new 570S Safety Car also debuted at the opening race of the British GT Championship.


Ciaran re-joined the track lower down the field after the team’s pit stop, but it wasn’t long before the race restarted and he was battling hard to gain places. The 570S GT4 looked sensational braking hard into Paddock Hill bend, and you could hear Ciaran climbing back on the accelerator early and running onto the kerb at the compression to maximise his run towards the Druids hairpin. 

He gained on the two cars ahead, pushing as hard as he could, and the excitement in the McLaren pit garages was palpable as everyone was glued to the timing screens. Unfortunately, the red flags were waved 23 minutes before the race’s end; too many cars were falling off the circuit in the heat of intense battles. It was a premature finish to a race that ran under waved yellow flags for much of its duration.

The McLaren 570S GT4 pulled into the pits to a round of applause, as Ciaran brought it home P6 on its debut. Its windscreen was peppered with stone chips like bullet holes, its bodywork was plastered with flies and rubber, and a smear of red paint on the rear diffuser bore testament to the closeness of the racing.

The car is awesome!’ says Ciaran. ‘It’s a got a lovely balance and I just dialled in a bit more stability control when it started to slide around. I was in P7 or P8 when I re-joined, and we finished P6, so we can be happy with our race pace and build on that moving forward.’

McLaren will continue testing with the 570S GT4 throughout the year, as it readies the new track-only model for customer sales ahead of the 2017 motorsport season, while the solid debut puts Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse on a strong footing ahead of round two of the British GT Championship at Rockingham on 30 April. 


Should you wish to further your interest in the 570S GT4 or the 570S Sprint, please register here.


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