McLaren factory driver Joe Osborne will make his long-awaited return to the top class of the British GT Championship as he joins Stewart Proctor in a part-season entry in a Balfe Motorsport McLaren 720S GT3.
Osborne, who last raced in the championship in 2018 in a Tolman McLaren 570S GT4 (pictured bottom), is partnering with long-time coaching student Proctor who has developed his way up the McLaren ladder – having raced in the manufacturer’s one-make Pure Series for the 570S.
The pair will compete in five of British GT’s scheduled nine races – both of the Donington Park events and Snetterton.
Proctor said: “I am very much looking forward to racing with Balfe Motorsport in the British GT Championship once again this year. The late start to the season has allowed me to complete some good miles in testing with the McLaren 720S GT3 and I am enjoying the step up from GT4. The car drives and feels great and I am grateful to be in the hands of a safe and experienced team like Balfe Motorsport.
“The first race Joe and I will compete in will be at Donington Park, which is not only a track which suits the car, as shown by Shaun and Rob’s victory at the end of last season, but is also one of my favourite circuits, so it will be a fun weekend and interesting to see how we perform in what is one of the benchmark race series for GT3 machinery.”
Osborne’s move back into the championship is in addition to his programme with Optimum Motorsport in GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup – which gets underway this weekend at Imola – and his return to the commentary booth for British GT at rounds that don’t clash with the Balfe drive.
“Stewart and I have a relationship which goes back almost six years now, so he is a friend and someone I have worked with since his first test days,” Osborn said. “He was one of the first Pure McLaren customers and drove the road cars, then the 570S GT4, and went into our one-make Pure McLaren GT Series.
“Now he has a 720S GT3, which makes him the perfect example of progression with everything we do at McLaren. He has outgrown what we offer at Pure McLaren currently, so that’s where our Customer Racing teams come into play. He has chosen Balfe Motorsport who know the car inside and out with Shaun and Rob’s antics last year, so it is a natural progression for him.
“It’s very easy for Am drivers to overlook what team they go with, but Stewart has appreciated the professional but friendly nature that Balfe offers, and from the test days I have done with the team I have been super impressed with the way they operate and it gives me confidence that Stewart and I will be given the best tools on the grid to go and get some decent results.
Their move into the championship has come as a replacement for the initial Balfe Motorsport entry for team boss Shaun Balfe and Rob Bell. With the compression of the calendar – the season starts in August and runs for three months, ending in November – clashing commitments with Balfe’s construction business has meant the duo will delay their programme until 2021.
It’s a similar story with Beechdean AMR, as clashing commitments from Prodrive – which runs the squad’s Aston Martin Vantages – has meant Andrew Howard will shrink his entry to the one car which he’ll race alongside Valentin Hasse-Clot at Snetterton and Silverstone, and a to-be-confirmed co-driver at Brands Hatch.