McLaren GT Sporting Manager Bas Leinders predicts that the McLaren 570S GT4 will prove popular with customers in 2017 after it achieved a maiden competition victory at Snetterton with Ecurie Ecosse drivers Ciaran Haggerty and Sandy Mitchell.
After starting sixth on the grid for race one, 16-year-old Mitchell had climbed to second before handing over to Haggerty, who resisted pressure from the returning GT4 champion Ross Gunn to win by 0.3 seconds. In doing so, Mitchell became the youngest ever British GT winner, taking Jamie Chadwick’s record from Rockingham last year.
This success was followed by finishing fourth in race two, despite an unscheduled early pitstop to repair damage caused by contact with a Ginetta on the formation lap.
Having watched the 570S falter while in winning positions at Rockingham and Spa, Leinders was delighted to see the car combine performance with reliability at Snetterton and views the win as validation of the decision to race the car during its developmental period.
“I think [unreliability] is normal when you have a brand new car which is still being tested,” Leinders told Racing.GT. “Production will only start later, so we are racing it at the same time that we are looking at how it is going. But it was clear from the beginning that the basis of the car is extremely good and that there is a lot of potential there. It was just a bit of bad luck that meant we weren’t able to win earlier, but that’s all part of developing a car.
“Of course there is interest in the GT4 from all around the world and now with this win, I think interest will grow again. People were waiting to see the result and now they have the proof that it is a really good product. We are extremely delighted that we have won now and we’re looking forward to seeing some more in the future.”
Leinders admits that it was a risk to entrust the car’s development to GT newcomers Haggerty and Mitchell instead of an experienced professional, but praised the youngster’s feedback and work ethic, which has seen the team take poles at Silverstone and Snetterton.
“The main point was to have a reliable product which is easy to work with and not too difficult to drive, but at the same time everybody is still looking at you for the results. They are both young drivers and we put them in a very difficult position because the car was brand new, everybody was trying to get to grips with it and to see what needs to be done, but I think the point that we have two young drivers winning in the car proves even more that the product is very good.
“Maybe at the beginning of the season it was difficult to get some certain feedback from them, but they have developed really well, we have done some testing and for them it’s an extremely good learning environment. I think if they keep their two feet on the ground and keep working the way they do, they can be the future stars of British GT and maybe even GT racing in the world.”