Last weekend, former British Formula Renault champion and Star Mazda champion Adam Christodoulou was given the first opportunity to put the new McLaren GT3 MP4-12C through it's paces at Magny Cours, the world famous French track. Joining Christodoulou was Pierre Kaffer, and his familiar team mate, Klass Hummel.
Testing kicked off at the former Formula One circuit on Thursday with testing in dry conditions. This was Christodoulou's track debut here, and he reported that the balance of the car seemed to have improved positively since the 24 hours event at Spa a number of weeks ago.
Despite a dry Thursday, Friday was the opposite, and with constant rain it provided the perfect opportunity for tuning the car's wet setup too.
Saturday's three hour race followed pre-qualifying and the main qualifying session. Each driver had 15 minutes to get a qualifying lap time, and Christodoulou was out first. On the second lap he had managed to snatch the second fastest time on track, then on the third lap pushed himself to the top of the leader board. With traffic building up ahead, the team decided to conserve tyres and fuel and so eased off the throttle, but with the car performing magnificently, everything was set to make for an excellent day out on track.
Hummel took the wheel for second qualifying, but the session ended early, delivering a frustrating blow to the team as neither he or Kaffer had by this time managed to file a qualifying lap. Regulations stipulate that all three drivers must qualify, and after the corresponding penalty was applied, the car was relegated, and the team had to start from the back row of the grid in a poor 34th position.
At 6.15pm the race began, and Hummel began proceedings with a unbelievable start, ascending the ranks quickly from 34th into 23rd in just the first three laps. A safety car period soon handed the team an additional blessing, and at the 45 minute mark he had climbed to 18th position. But the team's luck wasn't to last, and even before Kaffer and Christodoulou got their chance, the car had to retire from the race within the first hour.
It was a terrible disappointment for the whole team. Christodoulou commented after the race, "Everyone is gutted. Looking at our pace, a top five or even a podium finish looked to be a real possibility. The car had so much grip and the speed was fantastic, but it just didn't work out for us."
Christodoulou returns to the UK for his next race in the McLaren at Silverstone, the home of the British Grand Prix, on October 8th and 9th. However this coming weekend he will also be fitting in one additional race and heading to Austria to the Red Bull Ring to compete in his debut appearance in the Ferrari Challenge.