JOTA has withdrawn its McLaren 720S GT3 from today’s Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup race at the Nürburgring due to Oliver Wilkinson being ruled out by injuries sustained in a crash at Brands Hatch last weekend.
The British team had repaired its red, white and green McLaren for the Nürburgring after Wilkinson’s high-speed accident during the recent Sprint Cup round in the U.K, in which the Englishman’s car cleared the outer barriers after contact from Raffaele Marciello.
However, Wilkinson confirmed on Sunday morning that he was still not feeling 100 percent after the crash seven days ago.
The McLaren factory driver tried out the JOTA car in the build-up sessions at the Nürburgring but ended up struggling with a knee problem, and was later deemed unfit to race by the series doctor.
“I’m very disappointed to be having to withdraw from this weekend’s Endurance Cup round at the Nürburgring,” said Wilkinson.
“Sadly, the injuries I sustained in last weekend’s crash at Brands Hatch haven’t healed enough to allow me to race competitively.
“The effort from my JOTA boys to turn the car around was just unbelievable and I’m lucky to be a part of this team. We’ll be back stronger than ever, hopefully at Valencia later this month.
“I can’t thank everyone enough for their support and messages, it means a lot.”
Sportscar365 understands that JOTA initially sought approval from GTWC Europe series organizer SRO Motorsports Group to receive a force majeure ruling for Wilkinson’s co-drivers Ben Barnicoat and Rob Bell to compete at the Nürburgring as a pair.
The GTWC Europe sporting regulations state that “throughout any competition, no fewer and no more than three drivers may drive one and the same car” except in the Silver Cup, Pro-Am and Am Cup categories where approval must be sought beforehand.
“As the race team, we put forward a proposal to try and do the race with two drivers,” explained JOTA chief engineer Nathan McColl.
“The SRO rulebook was put in place to protect this: they want the championship to have three-driver lineups. Those reasons were explained to us and we’re accepting of what those reasons are.
“We had to put the request in because that’s what race teams do: they try to find a way.
“The SRO worked extremely hard to put us in a position to be on the grid, but Ollie’s injuries are such that he can’t perform at the level that he wants to.
“He’s as much a part of the team as anyone else, and we’re not going to drive without him.”
JOTA’s withdrawal leaves 43 cars on the entry for this afternoon’s three-hour race and removes the only McLaren 720S GT3 from the grid.