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JOTA Plotting Addition of Pro-Am McLaren Entry Next Year

JOTA looking to run two McLarens in GTWC Europe next year as “greatest chance” for title…

Photo: Jules Benichou/21 Creation

JOTA is “looking at” adding a Pro-Am McLaren entry to its Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS stable for next year, according to team co-owner Sam Hignett.

The British squad has launched a new program for 2021 with a single McLaren 720S GT3 that will compete in the Pro class of the Endurance and Sprint Cups with factory drivers.

Hignett has suggested that JOTA’s medium-term vision is for the Pro entry to continue next year, alongside an additional Pro-Am effort.

He told Sportscar365 that from a competition perspective this two-pronged approach would give the “greatest chance” of overall success in the GTWC Europe championship.

“We looked at this really, really carefully to understand what the best way of going GT racing is,” said Hignett.

“The most successful outcome in the last six years is to run one Pro and one Pro-Am. That nets you the greatest chance of overall success, when you look at it historically at what teams have won. It’s very rare a team wins with two Pro cars.

“In our ideal world next year, we’d have a Pro car – this car – and a Pro-Am car to support it. You get the economies of scale. You’re effectively testing twice as much so you get twice the learning.”

Since the launch of a combined Endurance and Sprint teams’ championship in 2014, four of the seven Pro title winners have operated other entries in either Pro-Am or Am Cup.

JOTA previously ran the two Pro-level Aston Martin Vantage GT3s of R-Motorsport, but that program was never supported by a full-time entry outside the top category.

“With a Pro car and a Pro-Am car there is a different approach,” said Hignett. “It’s more beneficial than anything else.

“That will be the ultimate goal. When you look up and down the grid that seems to be [the case]. Whether there’s science behind it how it works out, history proves that a Pro and a Pro-Am car gives you the best chance of ultimate success. 

“With a Pro-Am, you’ve got another [Pro] driver so you have another 30 percent benefit there in terms of that.

“With all due respect, it’s probably slightly easier to run a Pro-Am car than a Pro car in terms of where you push and where you don’t push and things like that. 

“I think that will be the ultimate scenario. We’re looking at it definitely.”

GT3 “Important” to Long-Term LMDh Ambition

As JOTA plots to ramp up its McLaren GT3 setup, Hignett explained that the category represents an important step towards the team’s long-term goal of racing in the LMDh prototype formula, as well as a beneficial endeavor from a business point of view.

With three factory drivers in its Endurance Cup squad, JOTA is quickly establishing a tight on-track relationship with McLaren which has long been interested in LMDh.

JOTA also runs a pair of LMP2 cars in the FIA World Endurance Championship and will kick off its 2021 season in that competition next weekend at the Total 6 Hours of Spa.

“There’s no secret that the overall ambition of JOTA is to be in LMDh and there are reasons why it makes sense to be with certain manufacturers in GT,” said Hignett.

“With my business partner [David Clark’s] relationship with McLaren, people can put two and two together in what might be coming. It’s very good to be working with them. 

“GT is important to us. It brings diversity across the engineering group. They might work on different programs but there’s a cross-pollination of conversations. They learn off each other.

“It’s helpful to have other programs in the business. I don’t know how far that extends when multiple programs start to dilute each other but certainly two for us at the moment would be good. I think three would be even better.

“Much beyond that, I think you begin to dilute your resources because you get too green with the economies of scale. But two is very good. It’s like running two cars is better than one car. I think it’s the same with the volume of programs in business 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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