The British GT Championship welcomes two more teenagers to its GT4 ranks this season after Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse confirmed Ciaran Haggerty and Sandy Mitchell as the driver pairing for its new McLaren 570S.
The duo, both members of the famous Scottish squad’s Young Driver Initiative, will spearhead the competitive development work undertaken by McLaren GT this year before the car is made available to customers in time for 2017.
The 570S GT4 was first unveiled during last week’s Media Day at Snetterton, while British GT is the only place to see the car competing in 2016.
McLaren factory driver Rob Bell, who partners Alasdair McCaig aboard Ecurie Ecosse’s 650S GT3 entry this season, will also assist Haggerty and Mitchell throughout the year.
Mitchell will become the youngest driver ever to compete in British GT when, aged just 16 years and 41 days, he lines up for the opening round of the season at Brands Hatch on April 17, beating the record currently held by reigning GT4 champion Jamie Chadwick. But despite his tender age the Scot still joins the series with a season of single-seater racing under his belt after finishing seventh in 2015’s MSA Formula Championship.
“I am very excited to be racing with Ecurie Ecosse in 2016; to be driving the first ever McLaren 570S GT4 car in the British GT Championship is a real privilege - it’s a fantastic car,” he said. “I am really looking forward to partnering alongside Ciaran and would like to thank everyone who has supported me and made this incredible drive come together.”
19-year-old Haggerty also boasts recent open-wheel nous having finished fifth in last season’s BRDC Formula 4 Championship as an Ecurie Ecosse driver a year after dominating Scottish Formula Ford 1600.
“This is a huge break for both my career and Sandy’s,” the Scot told Motorsport News. “It’s been a hard winter putting a GT deal together but to get a chance to run with a manufacturer like McLaren with a new programme is a dream.
“I’ve not tested the GT4 yet, but I did do eight laps in the 650S GT3 last year. It’s a very different driving style to single-seaters, getting used to the braking and the extra dive and roll of the car due to the weight difference, and also using systems like ABS and traction control.
“Sandy’s a top driver and between us we’ll make one of the strongest pairings in GT4. McLaren wants this season to be all about development for the 570S GT4, so there’s not huge pressure, but we both want to perform to our best and fight for wins.”
Ecurie Ecosse patron Hugh McCaig, who was responsible for establishing the squad’s talent roster in 2015, added: “It is a fantastic feeling to see two of Scotland’s young superstars take the next step into top-level GT racing. I am sure the GT4 category will be an ideal platform for Ciaran and Sandy to demonstrate their talents with the support of the Ecurie Ecosse Young Driver Initiative.”