We recently caught up with the boys to discuss all things British GT. Such as what first attracted them to GT racing at such a young age? Sandy says: “There are a lot of opportunities in GT racing. It seems to be getting bigger and the competition is getting better with more manufacturers getting into it too. It was where the opportunity lay for me as I was in single seaters but the budget required was getting bigger and bigger. This encouraged me to move to GT.”
Ciaran adds: “Similar for me, and it’s nice to be racing against so many different types of cars – that’s very exciting.”
McLaren entrusted the role of helping to develop the 570S GT4 to the youngsters, something usually reserved for more experienced drivers. Ciaran says: “It’s a huge privilege to be able to help develop the car and race it: also to represent McLaren, especially in the car’s development year last season. I feel very honoured to have been driving the only car of its kind racing in the world at the time. To do well in it was very satisfying.”
Sandy continues: “I couldn’t agree with Ciaran more; it was great. We went to Paul Ricard for the Pirelli tyre test and to develop the car at the same time, which was really exciting. We were able to go to a lot of good tracks, which gave us a lot of opportunities and track time. It was a big responsibility too: at the beginning there were no spare parts so we had to be really careful. A big thanks to McLaren for trusting us to use the car in the right way.”
Sandy points out as well that the GT family has been very welcoming. When he left karting for single seaters at the age of 15, some people said he wasn’t old enough – but after doing well in his first season, making the move to GTs was absolutely fine.
At Donington Park last year Ciaran had to race with an injury to his hand – but still won the race regardless. He explains, in excruciating detail: “It was an unfortunate hacksaw injury, I cut through the tendon on the top of my hand and had surgery two days before the race, so I had to do the race in a cast. I was pretty surprised to come away with the win after such a stressful week leading up to it. The race itself was quite a struggle, driving with one hand. I just had to rest my hand with a cast on the steering wheel and use it to change gear. It’s all fine now though; I just have the scar as a reminder.”
In 2016, Sandy became the youngest driver in British GT history to claim a pole position, set fastest lap and win a race (the latter at 16 years and 169 days). That goes for all classes, not just GT4, and he still holds all of those records today.
Both Sandy and Ciaran say that their shared ultimate dream is to become full time professional racing drivers, and Sandy would also love to race at Le Mans. British GT has already propelled several talents up the ranks of the 24-hour classic, such as Jonny Adam, so there’s no reason to imagine that the dream won’t one day come true…