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Andrew Kirkaldy, CRS Racing – Q&A

27 January 2011

Q:
For the last few years, CRS has been all about Ferrari and your single-seater programme, but for 2011 you are going into partnership with McLaren to develop a racing version of its new car, so there are exciting times ahead for the team.

Andrew Kirkaldy:
Yeah there are. It is a deal out of the blue for a lot of people but it is something we have been working on for a while now and it is a fantastic opportunity for the team. McLaren is one of the most iconic brands in the world, and not only in F1 as they went out and won at Le Mans first time out with the F1 GTR. It is a great opportunity for us, but there is also a bit of pressure as well.

Q:
Can you tell us anything about how this deal came about.

Andrew Kirkaldy:
Chris Goodwin, who is chief test driver for the automotive side of things at McLaren and does the occasional bit with the F1 cars at events like Goodwood, has been driving for CRS for the past few years and he was impressed with the team. He mentioned us to McLaren and we got involved in some other projects that were going on and Martin Whitmarsh came up to CRS for a look round and it started from there. It was really a case of reputation and the right things being said to the right people and we worked hard on the deal for three months or so before it came to fruition.

Q:
So it's not a deal that you 'lucked into', but an element of knowing the right person at the right time.

Andrew Kirkaldy:
CRS has become widely known now for the right reasons. The team and cars look right, we've had good results and that is despite the fact that we haven't been going for a huge amount of time. Everything came together and the right signals went out to the right people, and it has culminated in us getting this deal.

Q:
The initial plan is to get the car on track but there will be people who want to buy the McLaren to race themselves, so this adds something else to CRS as you now become a car builder and not just a race team.

Andrew Kirkaldy:
We are changing from a race team to a manufacturer in some respects. The interest in the car is huge. We anticipated that a lot of people would be interested in the car, but maybe not to the level they are; the interest is massive. It's great but we have to make sure that this is an exercise that promotes the McLaren brand and we need to make sure that whatever we do within this project is done to the highest level. It will have the best customer service and we believe we will have one of the best cars and that is the primary function. We aren't going out there to flood the market with cars, there will be a limited number and we will make sure that that limited number is well serviced and looked after.

Q:
What is the state of play with the car?

Andrew Kirkaldy:
It's in build at the moment and is largely designed – probably 90 per cent designed with a few little things to finish off. The car has been designed in conjunction with McLaren and they did some of the aerodynamic work, but we have done the mechanical work between us and are in the process of building the initial car at CRS. It has been built up and taken apart, built up and taken apart and is now in build. It will take some time but we hope to be running the car in the near future.

Q:
CRS' relationship in sportscars thus far has been with Ferrari, so what impact does this deal with McLaren going to have on the Ferrari programme.

Andrew Kirkaldy:
It wont have a huge impact on the Ferrari side of things and in 2011 we will still run what is probably an expanded programme. There will be the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup with one car, we hope to LMS and may also do some GT Open so things won't change a great deal. Ferrari respect us as a team and are well aware of what we are doing with the McLaren but there are no issues there and we will continue.

Q:
CRS has enjoyed success in recent years in Formula Renault, but do you feel the partnership with McLaren will make the team even more attractive to young drivers?

Andrew Kirkaldy:
Maybe. We have Formula Renault and GP3 and that element is very important for us. I don't know what the drivers will think, but the McLaren link can do no harm for sure.


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