McLaren back to British GT Championship's top class for 2018

McLaren will return to the British GT Championship's top class this year for the first time since 2016 with Balfe Motorsport

McLaren back to British GT Championship's top class for 2018

Balfe will run a single 650S GT3 for team owner Shaun Balfe and factory McLaren racer Rob Bell.

The team will also take over the operation of 2016 GT4 champions Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson's 570S GT4 after the pair split from the Optimum Motorsport team.

It will be Balfe's first British GT entry since 2013.

Drivers Balfe and Bell raced together in the International GT Open last season, where they won the Pro-Am drivers' championship.

"We've had a couple of great seasons in Europe, winning the Pro/Am title and finishing second overall, but now it's time for a new challenge and British GT most definitely provides that," said Balfe.

"Rob and I have been racing the 650S for the last year-and-a-half and we enjoy a great relationship, but there's a lot of unknowns this season and we expect to start on the back foot.

"We've never raced on the Pirelli tyres and the circuit temperatures will be very different to what we're used to in Europe.

"The amateur drivers are so competitive and know the championship inside out, while this year's GT3 Pro driver roster is incredible.

"The established teams will have the upper hand so we're just aiming for a clean opening weekend before building on what we've learnt."

Johnson and Robinson had won their GT4 title with a Ginetta before switching to the McLaren last season and finishing second after some teething troubles with the new car.

Race engineer Geoff Kingston will follow the pair to Balfe.

"We're very grateful to Optimum Motorsport for their efforts over the last three years," said Johnson.

"But in joining Balfe, we're joining a team with more experience working with McLaren and that has ambition to not only compete for both British GT class titles, but also at legendary races such as Le Mans.

"Mike and I share those same goals."

shares
comments
Closed-road motorsport in Wales close to green light for 2018
Previous article

Closed-road motorsport in Wales close to green light for 2018

Next article

Access to Brands Grand Prix loop to be restricted to spectators

Access to Brands Grand Prix loop to be restricted to spectators
How Lotus emerged as a period Goodwood force Plus

How Lotus emerged as a period Goodwood force

Colin Chapman’s marque was the most successful across Goodwood’s 71 contemporary era Members’ Meetings, from 1949 to 1966. Many of the future Formula 1 pacesetter's finest creations will be in action during this weekend's 2022 event, attempting to re-live an era when period Lotus was gaining unstoppable momentum

Historics
Apr 8, 2022
How to get the best out of amateur racers Plus

How to get the best out of amateur racers

Pro-Am GT racing is booming. But how should drivers approach working with an amateur? Autosport sought out a panel of experts to explain the pitfalls amateur drivers should avoid and how professionals can help them to achieve their goals

GT
Apr 3, 2022
How Radical revamped its record-breaking flagship model Plus

How Radical revamped its record-breaking flagship model

Just over a year ago, Autosport sampled Radical’s newest offering: the SR10. Now upgraded, it’s clear to see why it’s become the manufacturer’s fastest-selling model

National
Jan 16, 2022
The second-generation Can-Am racers that took the UK by storm Plus

The second-generation Can-Am racers that took the UK by storm

When Thundersports was introduced in 1983, few could have predicted that it would bring an army of heavy metal from the United States to British circuits. The awe-inspiring former Can-Am racers became a new domestic flagship category that captivated spectators and drivers alike

National
Jan 14, 2022
The father and son team taking GT racing by storm Plus

The father and son team taking GT racing by storm

GT Cup title winners Richard and Sam Neary emerged as a race-winning force in British GT in 2021. The father-and-son pairing have done it the hard way with their family team – and 19-year-old Sam is only just getting started on a career he hopes will lead to factory opportunities in the near future

National
Jan 9, 2022
Track testing an outgoing stalwart of British motorsport Plus

Track testing an outgoing stalwart of British motorsport

The current GB3 Championship car is due to be replaced next season. Autosport got behind the wheel to discover why it's been a popular machine for drivers making their way up the junior single-seater ladder

National
Dec 15, 2021
Inside the lightweight Czech sportscar making its mark on the UK Plus

Inside the lightweight Czech sportscar making its mark on the UK

Ahead of Praga running its own standalone series in partnership with Britcar, Autosport got behind the wheel of the Czech company’s R1 at Donington – and was left very impressed

National
Dec 5, 2021
How rocket O'Sullivan banished painful memories with GB3 glory Plus

How rocket O'Sullivan banished painful memories with GB3 glory

After missing out on the 2020 British F4 title in astonishing fashion, Zak O'Sullivan was determined to earn his first car racing title stepping up to the BRDC British F3 championship. While the series underwent a mid-year name change to GB3, the Carlin driver was imperious throughout and deservedly claimed the title in his rookie year

National
Dec 1, 2021