Reigning British GT GT4 class champions Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson are set to switch to racing a McLaren 570S GT4 for the remainder of the 2017 British GT season, the first race with the new car coming at the Silverstone 500 this weekend. This news brings the number of 570S GT4s in the British GT Championship to seven.
The PMW Expo Racing/Optimum Motorsport crew, which has been racing with a Ginetta G55, finished as class runners-up in 2015 before going one better and lifting the GT4 crown 12 months later. This season the team sits fourth in the standings, 22 points behind leaders Will Tregurtha and Stuart Middleton, but enjoy a healthy advantage atop the Pro/Am table.
Johnson confirmed other options had been discussed pre-season but that the decision was only made following a recent test at Silverstone.
“The move to McLaren is about Mike and I taking on a new challenge having won the title last year,” he said. “We looked at various options for 2017 in the off-season, but nothing worthwhile came together. Then we got the chance to test the McLaren and we were immediately won over by it.
“We couldn’t believe what a different experience the McLaren gives to the Ginetta. It’s a very ‘easy’ car to drive quickly, whereas the Ginetta is more an out-and-out racer: hot, noisy, and on a knife-edge. A Ginetta would be intimidating to the uninitiated, but the McLaren is softer. I can see why ‘gent’ drivers like it so much.
“Both the Ginetta and the McLaren have their merits and we’ll unquestionably miss our Ginetta at some circuits, but it’s time for us to see what we can do in another car.”
Johnson meanwhile, remains realistic about the team’s chances in its first weekend with the new car.
“The team only collected the car from the factory today [5 June], and Mike and I have completed just eight laps each in McLaren’s development car,” he admitted. “Collectively, we’ve a tremendous amount to learn in a very short period of time, but I trust Optimum will ensure the car is reliable, while Mike and I know we can mix it at the front in whatever car we drive.
“A podium finish would be nice, but I think the first goal has to be to complete every lap of the three-hour race. That’s a feat we’ve never managed in previous years!
“Anyone who thinks we’re stepping back under-estimates Mike’s and my determination and competitive spirit,” he said. “We’ve never been on the grid simply to make up the numbers, but rather we want to win. Indeed, this move is not only about a new challenge, but also about giving us what we feel is the best chance to keep fighting.”