Compass Racing has confirmed an expansion to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, with a brand-new McLaren 720S GT3 for the WeatherTech Sprint Cup rounds.
Matt Plumb and newly named McLaren factory driver Paul Holton will pilot the GT Daytona class contender in the seven-round championship, which kicks off in the series’ fourth overall round of the season at Mid-Ohio in May.
The Canadian-based squad is the first officially announced customer of the car globally.
It also confirms McLaren’s expected presence in the WeatherTech Championship for next year, boosting IMSA’s GTD manufacturer count to nine.
“We’re really excited to extend our partnership with McLaren by launching the new 720S GT3 in North America,” said Compass managing director Jill Beck.
“Paul has been one of the test drivers on the car through its development over the past year, and we all have high hopes for the first race car developed entirely in-house by McLaren Automotive.”
As previously reported by Sportscar365, Compass had been widely tipped to join the WeatherTech Championship, building on its successful partnership with the British manufacturer in GT4 competition over the last two years, in both Michelin Pilot Challenge and SRO’s GT4 America.
“The new Sprint Cup is something we’d hoped IMSA would implement, as it provides a perfect ladder for our McLaren program, with steps from GS to Sprint to a full WeatherTech effort,” Beck added.
Holton, who had led the way in GS class pole positions in each of the last two seasons, has played a key part in the new-for-2019 car’s development.
He will remain paired with Plumb, the winningest driver in GS class history, as the duo step up to the GTD class.
“The new GT3 car has been a real revelation in testing, and I can’t wait to get it out on track in North America,” Holton said.
“McLaren has put together a great team of people in their new Motorsport facility in Woking, and we are all committed to being competitive from the very first race.”
Team principal Karl Thomson added: “In developing a new car, driver continuity counts for a lot, and we are pleased to have Matt and Paul working with us on our GT3 program.
“We know the competition in WeatherTech is fierce, but we believe that 15 straight years of battling in the Michelin Pilot Challenge has prepared us for the fight.”
Further announcements on the team’s planned McLaren 570S GT4 program in Pilot Challenge is expected to be announced in the coming days.