Kirkaldy steers new McLaren to impressive debut

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MILTON Keynes racer Andrew Kirkaldy headed to Spa Francorchamps in Belgium at the weekend for the McLaren MP4-12C GT3 debut in the 2011 Avon Tyres British GT Championship, taking pole position in qualifying.

Kirkaldy and his London based co-driver Chris Goodwin were to commandeer the driving seat of the McLaren on its British GT debut, with the car was featuring a recently revised aerodynamics package.

The 12C GT3 is being developed by the recently established McLaren GT who is spending the 2011 race season developing the car before delivering 20 to private teams for GT3 racing in Europe in 2012.

And the new McLaren MP4 car enjoyed a competitive introduction in qualifying for this weekend with Kirkaldy and Goodwin claiming pole position for the first of the races.

Goodwin’s successful first-session time of 2m 23.479s was then narrowly beaten in the second session by the Trackspeed Porsche driven by Richard Westbrook who posted a phenomenal 2m 22.648s to bag the pole for race two.

But Kirkaldy was delighted with his day’s work, saying: “Although we have covered around 4500km in testing this is the first time we’ve had any opportunity to go up against any other cars, so before today it was something of an unknown quantity.

“We’re very pleased with the way things have gone – the McLaren was reasonably on the pace straight out of the box, it feels great to drive and technically everything has gone as planned.”

In race one and on its first international race outing, the new car – running in the famous McLaren orange – held off the tried and tested Porsche/Ashburn combination before surrendering the lead shortly before the safety car was called out for an incident involving cars from one of the series the British GT field was sharing the Spa tarmac with.

In the second race Kirkaldy claimed an encouraging fourth place after passing both the Geddie Ferrai and the Guasch/Bell Audi on the final lap, making for an impressive opener in the championship.

The next round of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship takes place at Rockingham in September.