McLaren have announced today that their 2020 Driver Development Programme, run in the British GT Championship by Tolman Motorsport, has been suspended until 2021.
The decision has been made “to preserve the integrity of the programme, which has been severely compromised with social distancing restrictions and the entirely necessary imposition of a compressed racing calendar for the 2020 season.”
The four 2020 DDP drivers (Katie Milner (UK), Michael Benyahia (USA), Harry Hayek (AUS) and Alain Valente (CH)) will be retained for the 2021 season.
The Programme was designed to provide an individually tailored programme designed to ensure measurable performance improvement, including support and mentoring from the McLaren Factory Drivers with the four drivers having already attended a training camp at the Motor & Sport Institute in Madrid and participated in pre-season testing this year.
Ian Morgan, Director of Motorsport, McLaren Customer Racing:
“This has been a difficult decision and has not been taken lightly, but our ability to facilitate a full Driver Development programme in 2020 has been limited beyond our control by the on-going impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. We felt our current driver line-up would not receive the full benefit of the programme as it was intended, including the contribution from Tolman Motorsport, which has helped facilitate the smooth running of the programme on track with professionalism and attention to detail.
“We are now focusing on plans for next year and I am pleased to confirm that we will retain the four drivers in the 2020 line-up into 2021.“
The announcement is though very bad news for Tolman Motorsport who had been anticipating a third consecutive British GT season of collaboration with McLaren on the programme with a pair of 570S GT4 cars committed to the effort this season. The team now belatedly beginning a scramble to fill those vacant seats.
Tolman Managing Director, Christopher Tolman, said: “I’m very disappointed that the McLaren Automotive Driver Development Programme will not be running at all in 2020, but understand McLaren’s position; it would not be right to continue under the current circumstances and compromise the programme.
“However, Tolman Motorsport remains positive and we’re focused on the potential opportunities this presents. We still have two British GT entries, race cars ready to compete in GT4 and the capacity to run GT3 campaigns for those who are looking for a professional, well-presented team with a track record for delivering success for its customers, and a strong reputation for working to the highest engineering standards. We would encourage anybody with ambitions to race in GT3 or GT4 to contact us.”