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GT World Challenge Europe

JOTA to Run McLaren 720S GT3 with Factory Driver Trio

JOTA to contest full GTWC Europe season with McLaren factory support…

Photo: Khyzyl Saleem

JOTA will run a McLaren 720s GT3 in the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS for Rob Bell, Ben Barnicoat and new McLaren factory signing Oliver Wilkinson.

The 24 Hours of Le Mans class-winning team will combine its previously-announced FIA World Endurance Championship two-car LMP2 entry with a full campaign in both the Endurance and Sprint elements of GTWC Europe.

It will mark a return to GT racing for JOTA, which previously supported the R-Motorsport Aston Martin program.

Wilkinson, who graduates to full factory status from McLaren Professional Driver standing, and Barnicoat will team up for the Sprint Cup races.

They will be joined by Bell for the five Endurance Cup rounds including the Total 24 Hours of Spa.

Bell and Wilkinson shared a Pro-class Optimum Motorsport McLaren with Joe Osborne in last year’s GTWC Europe long-distance races.

The last McLaren entry into the Sprint Cup occurred four years ago in 2017, when Strakka Racing fielded a fleet of 650S GT3 models.

The McLaren venture is a new one for JOTA, although the team’s senior figures have close links to the British manufacturer.

JOTA co-owner David Clark was a director of McLaren Cars from 1994-97 while his business partner Sam Hignett launched his motorsport career working on McLarens.

“I am an enormous fan of the McLaren brand and thrilled to return with JOTA for the 2021 season,” said Clark.

“Both McLaren and JOTA have similar DNA in the sense of a great depth in engineering capability and a winning mentality.

“Both my partner, Sam Hignett, and I have worked enormously hard to make JOTA not just a winning team but also a fun one to be around, so I think the collaboration between McLaren and JOTA together with three factory drivers will become a major force in GT racing.”

“The last time I was involved with a McLaren motorsport program was as a director of McLaren Cars. It was the era in which we famously won the 24 Hours of Le Mans at our first attempt. We also took multiple race wins and two titles in the BPR Global Endurance championship.”

McLaren Customer Racing director Ian Morgan described the news of JOTA’s commitment to a program with the Gulf 12 Hours-winning brand as “tremendously exciting”.

“The team’s vast experience and success in endurance racing and professionalism will, I’m confident, allow them to compete at the highest level throughout 2021 in the 720S GT3,” commented Morgan.

“I’m also delighted to see Oliver Wilkinson step up to a full Factory Driver program this year, supported by both Rob Bell and Ben Barnicoat, and I look forward to watching his progression.”

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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