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Intercontinental GT Challenge

Esports Ace Baldwin to Make Real-World Racing Return at Spa

Garage 59 names additional drivers for 24H Spa including sim racing star James Baldwin…

Photo: Jules Benichou/21 Creation

Garage 59 has announced its full driver lineup for the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa, including the real-world racing return of esports title winner James Baldwin.

British squad Garage 59 is fielding two McLaren 720S GT3s into next month’s Spa edition, as part of its Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS commitment.

Baldwin, who won the 2019 World’s Fastest Gamer challenge to earn a full-season British GT ride, slots into the Silver Cup entry alongside full-time drivers Manuel Maldonado, Ethan Simioni and Nicolai Kjaergaard.

The 24-year-old has not raced in real-world competition since 2020 when he contested the British GT season in a GT3-spec McLaren run by Jenson Team Rocket RJN.

“I’m over the moon to be racing in the Spa 24 Hours and making the jump again from virtual racing to real racing, which is always my primary purpose, and what an opportunity,” said Baldwin.

“Hopefully it’s the start of a longer journey back in real racing as I’ve had two years away after my debut season in British GT but even if it’s just this one race I know I am very fortunate and I want to make the most of it with Garage 59, a great, well-established team.

“I’d really like to thank Travel Planet who continue to put their trust in me, something for which I am very grateful. Thanks also to Chris Buncombe who has given me such great advice over the past year.

“I love the McLaren 720S GT3; I’ve been driving it in Esports for two years and raced it in British GT. I absolutely love the car, I have great teammates, I’m ready for the challenge and I can’t wait to get started.”

Garage 59’s No. 188 McLaren will race at Spa in the Pro-Am class and its lineup has been bolstered by the addition of the team’s Sprint Cup driver Dean MacDonald.

The British racer partners Bronze-rated Miguel Ramos in GTWC Europe Sprint Cup but will make his Endurance Cup debut in Belgium.

MacDonald, Ramos, Alexander West and Henrique Chaves will share the No. 188 car.

“I’m very excited to be joining the team at the Spa 24-hour race this year,” said MacDonald, who last weekend took a Sprint Cup class with Ramos at Zandvoort.

“It will be my first 24-hour race and I’m sure it will be a great experience.

“It is a good chance for us as a team to pick up a lot of points towards the championship and I am confident that we have a strong lineup and car to compete for the win in the Pro-Am class.

“It is obviously a very demanding race, not only for the cars but the entire team so I am looking forward to that challenge as well.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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