Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps
Quaife thrilled with McLaren MP4-12C GT3’s Total 24 Hours of Spa debut
Phil Quaife produced an impressive performance to just miss out on a top-ten class finish at the Total 24 Hours of Spa last weekend where McLaren’s all-new MP4-12C was making its twice-around-the-clock race debut.
The 25-year-old Kent racer, who shared the #60 VonRyan Racing-run GT3-spec McLaren race car with regular Le Mans Series team-mate Adam Christodoulou as well as Glynn Geddie and Roger Wills, overcame changeable conditions throughout the Belgian event to finish 11th in the Pro-Am class and 25th overall.
It was an especially encouraging result for McLaren GT, whose 12C GT3 made its Blancpain Endurance Series bow as work continues towards a full 2012 customer programme.
Despite still being at an early stage of its development, Quaife demonstrated the car’s potential on Thursday by vaulting to the top of the overall first free practice timesheets as the track began to dry.
That turn of speed saw him take the wheel for final qualifying later that evening when changeable conditions would play a significant role in shaping the grid. A succession of red flags ensured just five minutes remained once track action resumed, giving Quaife just one shot at a fast time. But with the entire 62-car field attempting the same feat, finding a clear lap was all-but impossible.
Starting 38th come Saturday, Quaife wasted little time making amends for Thursday’s disappointment by climbing ten positions on the first lap alone before moving the McLaren into the overall top-ten by the end of his opening double stint.
From there on the team settled into a competitive, risk-free rhythm. Indeed, during a race of high attrition, Quaife and his co-drivers concentrated on clocking up significant mileage and data which will be valuable to the 12C GT3 development programme.
Phil Quaife: “To get a brand new car to the finish of its first 24 hour race is an exceptional achievement, so I must say a big thank you to the team for all their efforts over the past week.
“The car, which is one of the best I’ve ever driven, performed well and proved very easy to drive, which is a huge bonus in long distance racing.
“Personally, I feel exceptionally privileged to be part of the McLaren 12C GT3’s development programme and I’m sure the #60 car’s performance will contribute towards that enormously. We’ve been fast and consistent throughout the week and ultimately that proved crucial in making the chequered flag.”
Quaife returns to regular Le Mans Series action with CRS Racing for the Six Hours of Silverstone on September 9-11.