Young guns scoop GT Rookie awardposted in GT28 | 11 | 2016

    SCOTS YOUNG GUNS Sandy Mitchell and Ciaran Haggerty received the Rookie of the Year Award at the British GT Championship end-of-season presentation in London.

    Mitchell, the 16-year-old from Forfar, and 20-year-old Johnstone-born Haggerty, piloted their Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse McLaren 570S GT4 to pole positions and race wins in their debut season competing in Europe’s toughest sportscar championship.

    Neither Scot had driven a sportscar before the start of the 2016 season, but the duo quickly demonstrated they had the pace, and talent, to compete at the front.

    After a debut pole position at Silverstone, they followed that with another pole at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium and were only denied a maiden victory when the car suffered a fuel problem when they led by 20-seconds.

    Victory though was merely delayed till the next round when they dominated the weekend at Snetterton to claim their first win of the season.

    In doing so, Mitchell, aged 16 years 169 days, became the youngest-ever British GT race winner. He was also the youngest to grab pole position and fastest lap.

    Then, in the season finale at Donington, Haggerty delivered a heroic drive — overcoming extreme pain from a hand injury he suffered just days before the race — to guide the Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse car to a second successive win.


    Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse GT4 young guns win again

    Ecurie Ecosse GT3 at Black Bull Huntly HQ

    Roadtest — McLaren 570GT

    The duo, who were also instrumental in developing the all-new McLaren 570S GT4 race car, battled back from a frustrating opening half of the season to finish third in the championship, and second in the Silver Cup.

    “It was nice to snatch third at the final round, especially as after Spa we thought there wouldn’t be any trophies at the end of the year,” Mitchell, who also picked up the Sunoco GT4 Fastest Drivers of the Year Award, said today.

    “To come back the way we did has been very impressive. I’d like to thank McLaren GT managing director Andrew Kirkaldy for giving Ciaran and I the opportunity to race the new 570S GT4; I’ve enjoyed every minute of racing and helping to develop it.

    “The same goes to Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse; together we put in a lot of hard work to get to where we were by the end of the season.”

    Haggerty too was delighted, and surprised, to pick up the Rookie of the Year Award.

    “What a fantastic trophy haul,” he beamed. “I knew we’d be picking up third overall in the class and second in Silver Cup, but I wasn’t expecting to receive Rookie of the Year. I thought one or two others might pip us to that. It’s fantastic to win it.


    “I knew before the year that the car would be fast and that I could do the job. The only question mark, with such a new car, was reliability. But once we sorted that everything else started falling into place. It’s been an awesome season.”

    Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse team principal, Hugh McCaig, was the first to congratulate the two young drivers, and pay tribute to McLaren GT.

    “It was fantastic to see Sandy and Ciaran  take the rookie of the year trophy,” McCaig said. “It’s a great way to top-off the season, which has been a very steep learning curve for them.  They have both shown their speed and faultless driving throughout the year which I am sure they will build upon in the coming years.  

    “I would like to thank McLaren GT for giving the boys the opportunity of being part of the development of the McLaren 570S GT4 car.  This has been invaluable experience which I am sure will stay with them for the rest of their driving careers.”


    And the success of the two young drivers was praised by Euan Shand, chairman of the team’s title sponsor, Black Bull Scotch Whisky.

    “There’s no question 2016 was a great year for Sandy and Ciaran," Shand said, “and we’re delighted with how they proved themselves in the GT arena for their first year.  These awards are great recognition for their achievements and tops a year neither will forget."

    In addition to Mitchell and Haggerty, Kirkcaldy’s Jonny Adam, partnered by TF Sport’s Derek Johnston, received the British GT Championship trophy for the second time.


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    Jim McGill

    CAPTION (MAIN PIC): Sandy Mitchell (left) and Ciaran Haggerty with their British GT Championship Rookie of the Year Awards.


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