Ciaran Haggerty and British GT record holder Sandy Mitchell will reunite to challenge for the championship’s GT4 class title this season as part of Black Bull Garage 59’s expanded McLaren line-up. The Scottish duo are joined by Dean Macdonald and Akhil Rabindra aboard a pair of factory-backed 570S GT4s.
2017 represents something of a role reversal for Mitchell and Haggerty who began last season as junior single-seater converts tasked with developing McLaren’s all-new GT4 car. But by the end of the year they had claimed two victories en route to third in the drivers’ standings and been named Rookies of the Year by SRO, while Mitchell also became the youngest driver ever to claim a pole position, record a fastest lap and win a British GT race.
Now, with a season of development under their belts, Mitchell believes he and Haggerty have what it takes to mount a serious title challenge.
“I’m delighted to be back in the Black Bull Garage 59 car with Ciaran,” said the 17-year-old, who will combine his racing with school studies. “Last year was a fantastic debut season for both of us in sportscars, and we’re definitely looking to build on the success we delivered for the team.
“Ciaran and I work well together both in and out of the car, and we’ll be doing everything we can this season to make a serious challenge for the British GT4 Championship. It’s going to be great having two McLaren GT4 cars working together in the same team. We’ll be able to maximise the time we spend on-track during testing to ensure we deliver the best performances we can.”
Haggerty and Mitchell’s team-mates in the sister Black Bull Garage 59 machine will be hoping to tread a similar path. 16-year-old champion karting graduate Macdonald will be older than Mitchell was when making his British GT debut at Oulton Park on April 17, but he does still have a chance to better his countryman’s ‘youngest ever race winner’ record this season.
Meanwhile, Indian racer Rabindra graduates from the BRDC British Formula 3 Championship, just as Haggerty did at the start of 2016 (albeit then known as Formula 4).
Team manager Bas Leinders believes Mitchell and Haggerty’s experience will be essential to helping their team-mates this season.
“We are delighted to have Sandy and Ciaran back for 2017 and looking to hit the ground running and build upon the successes they had last year,” he said. “The experience of the car, the circuits and the championship will help them support the development and transition in to GT racing of their new team-mates – as we saw with them supported by Factory Driver Rob Bell last season.
“It’s also an exciting chapter for the team with Black Bull coming onboard as title sponsor and seeing Advance Construction return to support Ciaran and Dean. With the experience running with the McLaren 570S GT4 last year, we are in a strong position going into the new season, and hope to be challenging for podiums and race wins again in 2017.”
Macdonald and Rabindra take over the #59 entry Mitchell and Haggerty drove in 2016, while the Scots will run #100 as part of the team’s Black Bull ‘100 proof Scotch’ sponsorship deal. All four will also be part of the McLaren GT Driver Academy.
Black Bull Garage 59’s McLarens also feature a radically different livery to last season’s Ecurie Ecosse-entered car. The legendary Scottish squad will not be part of this year’s programme.