Barnicoat’s Bathurst hopes end early

Ben Barnicoat endured a disappointing debut as part of the McLaren GT Driver Academy following a crash in the opening qualifying session of the Bathurst 12 Hour, which led to the withdrawl of one of Tekno Autosport’s two McLaren 650S GT3 machines.

The 20-year-old Racing Steps Foundation-backed driver, who was last month confirmed as a McLaren factory GT3 racer, joined reigning Bathurst champion squad Tekno Motorsports which entered its two Class A PRO 650S cars.

Barnicoat teamed up with Bathurst 1000 champion Will Davison and fellow Briton Jonny Kane in the #59 machine.

In the hour-long, first of two qualifying sessions ahead of the final Top Ten Shootout, Davison used his experience around the 3.86-mile circuit to set the quickest lap of the early part of the session with a time of 2m 03.386s before a red flag interrupted proceedings.

Davison’s time was only bettered later in the session by the #90 Castrol MARC Cars Australia BMW M6 GT3 machine of Chaz Mostert, who set a lap time of 2m 03.095s.

Barnicoat experienced his first qualifying session in the 650S in the latter stages of Q1. But with 12 minutes remaining, he spun the car, hitting the barrier at turn 22 towards the end of the lap. He was able to nurse the car the short distance back to the pit lane.

However, regulations state that no repairs are able to be undertaken to cars between the Q1 and Q2 sessions. With the car’s best lap time quick enough to make it through to the Top Ten Shootout, the team worked hard to repair the car but there was insufficient time in order to do so.

With the car unable to compete in the Top Ten Shootout, the decision was later made to withdraw the #59 machine from the remainder of the race weekend.

"I'm extremely disappointed to have ended the race early for my team," Barnicoat said. "We were looking strong in the early stages which makes it harder to accept. 

"I cannot express how sorry I am to the whole McLaren and Tekno teams as well as my team-mates who have been extremely supportive at this time. The incident was very unfortunate to damage the part which the team could not repair.

"This has been a steep learning curve for me and my first race for McLaren, but I'm looking forward to putting things right when we began our European campaign."

The team’s sister #1 650S driven by Alvaro Parente, Rob Bell and Côme Ledogar, will start from sixth place on the grid, headed by the Maranello Motorsport-run Ferrari 488 GT3 of Tony Vilander, Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup.