Jenson Team Rocket RJN has plans for expansion with its new McLaren GT3 program, setting the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli as its “long-term aim”.
The team is co-owned by Jenson Button, RJN’s Bob Neville, and long-time sports car driver Chris Buncombe.
Buncombe says a low-key start to the McLaren 720S GT3 program, with a single Silver or Pro-Am car in the GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup, will set the team up well for a future expansion.
The team was formed 12 months ago, when 2009 Formula 1 champion Button joined forces with former Nissan GT3 squad RJN. It ran a Honda NSX GT3 Evo in GTWC Europe last year, but has switched to McLaren after just five races.
“Last year was very beneficial,” Buncombe told Sportscar365.
“I think it proved, both internally and externally, to everybody in the team that coming from such a long period with one manufacturer, running the Nissan programs, it proved that the team could work well together with a new product, new car, new people, and still get up to speed quickly.
“Having done that [learning process] so recently last season, I think everyone will be up to speed with running the [McLaren] pretty quick.
“We spoke quite a lot last year about trying to get the Honda to the Suzuka IGTC round, which didn’t quite happen in the end.
“We’d love to get a program together that would take us to Suzuka, and maybe one of the others (Indianapolis 8 Hours, Kyalami 9 Hour) before the end of the year.
“IGTC is the ideal and the long-term aim for the project. Whether that’s 2020 or 2021, we’ll see. It all comes down to the funding and the commercials of the project.”
While IGTC races are on the radar for RJN, despite McLaren not being a full-season registered manufacturer for the globe-trotting series, Buncombe says a second car is also a target.
A second car would likely be required for either the Suzuka or Indy IGTC rounds this year, which fall one or two weekends before GTWC Europe races at the Nürburgring and Barcelona.
“If circumstances allow, we’d love to think we could get a second car together before the end of the 2020 season, but at the moment the focus is getting the team familiar with the single car and getting that up to speed,” Buncombe explained.
“If things came together to allow us to run a second car, it would be lovely to think that could happen, by the time we get to Spa.
“We were hoping that would be the case last year with the program but that didn’t quite work out. Certainly, for the way any team can operate, it certainly makes sense to try and run at least two cars where possible.”
The team has confirmed its GTWC Europe entry will feature either a Silver or Pro-Am lineup, and is set to communicate further details of its drivers within the next couple of weeks.