CRS Racing team principal Andrew Kirkaldy says the team is excited by its partnership with McLaren for the 2011 season, which will see the sportscar outfit move from being a racing team into a manufacturing role.

News broke prior to Christmas that the team - which has enjoyed success in British GT, FIA GT, LMS, GT Open and Formula Renault since its formation in late 2007 - was to go into partnership with McLaren to develop a racing version of the new MP4-12C road car.

Initial plans are for CRS and McLaren to enter a limited number of races with the car during the 2011 season before the new car is made available to customers from 2012 onwards to compete in the highly competitive GT3 class.

"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,' Kirkaldy explained. "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.

"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."

CRS is known to have been working on a securing a deal with a manufacturer for some time and Kirkaldy admitted that a relationship with McLaren test driver Chris Goodwin had been key to securing the deal.

"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 said. "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."

Work on the first GT3 MP4-12C is currently ongoing at the CRS base, with Kirkaldy hopeful that the car will turn a wheel for the first time shortly ahead of a race debut later in the year.

"It's in build at the moment and is largely designed - probably 90 per cent designed with a few little things to finish off," he said. "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."



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