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Former F1 driver Pantano to race a McLaren in Blancpain series

Former grand prix driver Giorgio Pantano is stepping up to the Blancpain Sprint Series with the Bhaitech McLaren team for 2014.

Pantano, who won the GTS class for GT3 machinery in last year's GT Open series with the Italian team, will lead the Bhaitech's assault on the BSS with a pair of MP4-12Cs.

He will share the car with fellow Italian Fabio Onidi, who took part in a short programme of events in the championship in its FIA GT Series guise last year with the AF Corse Ferrari team.

Pantano told AUTOSPORT ahead of this weekend's series opener at Nogaro: "We had a good season last year in GT Open, but now we are moving up to a higher level.

"It is a step up for us, but I believe we are ready for the challenge."

Pantano explained that he was now focused on becoming a top sportscar driver after making the switch from single-seaters last season.

"I really enjoy this type of racing and am looking to be a sportscar driver from now on.

"This is my only programme at the moment, but I would like to do some other longer races, like the Spa 24 Hours, if possible," he said.

The second McLaren entered by simulation company Bhaitech, which set up its race team last year, will be driven by Porsche Carrera Cup GB graduate Daniel Lloyd and Formula Renault 3.5 race winner Sten Pentus.

Lloyd, who finished fourth in Carrera Cup last year, said: "GT racing is a natural step up because the Porsche Supercup is too pricey and single-seaters have never been an option for me.

"This drive is perfect for me to showcase what I can go at a high level."

The deal follows Lloyd's first experience of a GT3 car with Bhaitech in testing at Adria and then Paul Ricard.

Lloyd will also drive the Beechdean AMR Aston Martin Vantage V12 GT3 at the Silverstone and Spa Blancpain Endurance Series events.

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