Diversion considered for McLaren driver

The McLaren crashed on the Glenorchy-Queenstown Rd. Photo: Paul Taylor
The McLaren crashed on the Glenorchy-Queenstown Rd. Photo: Paul Taylor
The man charged with carelessly driving a $20 million McLaren F1 sports car is an Australian who owns several McDonald's restaurants in Victoria.

And it's not the first time the luxury vehicle - known as the "Aussie Mac" - has crashed.

Barry Leigh Fitzgerald (63), of east Melbourne, did not appear before the Queenstown District Court registrar this morning.

He was remanded at large until his next appearance on January 16 and is being considered for diversion.

On Saturday, the 1994 McLaren - capable of reaching 386km/h - ended up in a ditch on the side of Glenorchy-Queenstown Rd after it was believed to have spun and skidded off the road at Closeburn at 11.45am.

It was part of the inaugural Epic New Zealand Road Tour, paying tribute to the late Bruce McLaren.

Fitzgerald, who owns McDonald's franchises throughout Victoria, added the F1 to his private collection of elite vehicles about 10 years ago.

An insider on a motoring forum said the F1 was parked in his garage alongside his Bugatti Veyron and Porsche 959.

The car was regularly used and displayed at most of the annual Formula 1 Grand Prix in Melbourne.

According to blogsite Supercar Chronicles the highly specialised sports car is only one of 64 in the world.

It set the world record for the fastest car, topping 371km/h.

It's the second time the expensive vehicle has been involved in a smash.

In 1997 the same supercar was at a workshop for a routine service when it was involved in a spectacular late-night crash. A mechanic was behind the wheel at the time.

The extensively damaged car had to be shipped back to England to be rebuilt and resulted in Australia's highest insurance payout of nearly A$1million.

After it was shipped back to Australia it was eventually bought by car enthusiast Fitzgerald.

The New Zealand tour featured 31 McLarens travelling from Auckland to Queenstown, with Saturday's F1 procession from Queenstown's Hilton Hotel to Glenorchy the final leg.

- additional reporting the New Zealand Herald