McLaren factory driver heading to Bathurst

Quinn's McLaren set the fastest lap last year with Van Gisbergen at the controls

Quinn’s McLaren set the fastest lap last year with Van Gisbergen at the controls

McLaren will dispatch factory driver Kevin Estre to the Bathurst 12 Hour next month as part of its support for Tony Quinn’s MP4-12C entry.

The 26-year-old Frenchman will join father and son duo Tony and Klark Quinn in the McLaren, which set the fastest lap in last year’s event on the way to fourth place.

The team’s 2014 campaign saw the Quinns team up with Shane van Gisbergen and McLaren GT director Andrew Kirkaldy.

Just three drivers are allowed per car in the GT3 class this year and with Van Gisbergen ruled out due to the clashing V8 Supercars test day, Estre will slot in as the hired gun.

Recently debuting McLaren’s new 650S GT3 car in Abu Dhabi, Estre competed in last year’s Blancpain Series as a factory driver with ART Grand Prix.

His resume also includes title wins in both the German and French Porsche Carrera Cups.

Estre has gained extensive experience aboard McLarens over the last 12 months

Estre has gained extensive experience aboard McLarens over the last 12 months

“Andrew put Kevin forward as McLaren’s representative and we’re looking forward to having him here,” Quinn told Speedcafe.com.

“I haven’t spoken with him yet, but you don’t drive for McLaren unless you’ve got some ability, so I’m thinking he’ll be pretty quick.”

The race’s sole McLaren is eligible for Gentlemen’s Trophy honours due to having two unseeded drivers, with Quinn realistic on his outright chances.

“It would be a surprise (to win), but Klark and myself have pretty good records and Bathurst is just about peddling away and Kevin will keep us up there,” he said.

“Bathurst really is a case of staying on the lead lap for 11 hours and then having your best driver in at the end. It’s as simple as that.”

McLaren will also have technical staff trackside at the event to help run the car, as was the case last year.

Quinn’s team will undertake a pre-Bathurst test next week at Queensland Raceway, where it will also shakedown its first 650S.

The new model arrived in Australia last week and will debut at the Australian GT Championship opener in Adelaide.

A second car, for privateer Tony Walls, is also scheduled to race in Adelaide, while it is yet to be determined whether the Bathurst car will be upgraded before or after the street event.

“If anything happens to the car at Bathurst, we’ll immediately upgrade it to a 650S,” said Quinn.

“But if everything goes well I doubt we’ll be brave enough to change it in two weeks, so Klark will run the opening round with it as a 12C.

“The differences are only relatively minor (largely around aerodynamic improvements) and it won’t make too much of a difference at Clipsal.”

With the focus now on the two McLarens, Quinn says his former ride, an Aston Martin Vantage, is for lease.

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