Ollie Wilkinson will take the step up to the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup for the first time in 2020 for his maiden season as a McLaren Professional Driver.
Graduating to the highest echelons of world-class GT3 competition, the 23-year-old will join McLaren Factory Drivers, Joe Osborne and Rob Bell, as a Pro-class line-up in the 720S GT3.
The move will also place the 2019 British GT Silver Cup champion with the Optimum Motorsport team for the fourth consecutive season, having raced with the Yorkshire-based outfit since starting his career just three years ago in the 2017 Ginetta GT5 Challenge.
Since then, the BRDC Rising Star has worked tirelessly to climb the ranks of GT3 competition, graduating to Pro category status and proving his calibre with multiple outright victories during a parallel programme in British GT and the International GT Open last year.
Recruited as a McLaren Professional Driver for the 2020 season, Wilkinson is now ready to move up and test his mettle in arguably the most competitive level of GT competition in the world.
Partnering Osborne and Bell for the first time, the trio are tasked with mounting the new McLaren 720S GT3’s first ever assault on the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup. Fresh to the track last season, the car has already recorded race wins and podiums across the globe.
Formerly known as the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup, the five-round championship includes events at Monza, Silverstone, Circuit Paul Ricard and the Nürburgring, not to mention one of the most challenging endurance races in the world – the 24 Hours of Spa.
“It’s fantastic to be able to share my plans for the 2020 season as a McLaren Professional Driver,” says Ollie. “It’s a massive deal for me to be stepping up to the top level of GT3 racing with some of the best drivers in the business. The level of competition is going to be really high and I’m certainly not underestimating how hard it will be, but at the same time I couldn’t be more excited to be part of such a world-class championship.
“I can’t wait to get to grips with the 720S GT3 and help showcase what we believe the car is capable of on the GT World Challenge stage. I’m really looking forward to the challenges ahead and to working with Rob and Joe, as learning from two such highly-experienced factory drivers will only help to push me to another level.
“I’ve been with Optimum Motorsport since I started racing in 2017 and it feels like home. It’s been great to help build a relationship between them and McLaren, and take my next big step whilst staying with the team. To be surrounded by people that encourage and believe in me is confidence inspiring ahead of the biggest season of my career and I can’t wait to get started.”
McLaren Factory Driver Joe Osborne, who has already taken the new 720S GT3 to double race victory in the China GT Championship in the car’s debut season last year, added: “I’m really looking forward to teaming up with Ollie, Rob and Optimum Motorsport, and running with the McLaren 720S GT3, we have the tools we need to have a strong year and push for results.
“While Ollie is new to McLaren, he has proved himself to be extremely quick and has already achieved some strong results over the past couple of seasons, and having worked with and raced with Rob for a number of years now I’m confident we will be up to speed pretty quickly. I am excited to be back racing with Optimum Motorsport as well, building on the relationship I have had with the team for the past 14 years.”
McLaren Factory Driver Rob Bell, whose multiple championship titles include the 2016 Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup and 2017 International GT Open crowns, and also took the 720S to a first British GT race victory last year, said: “I’m delighted to confirm that I will be joining Ollie and Joe in the Optimum Motorsport 720S GT3 for a full-season attack on the Endurance Series. Ollie has really impressed over the past few seasons, and we had some good battles last season in British GT, so I am looking forward to working with him and being paired up with Joe as well. I think that the set up in place with Optimum Motorsport, combined with the three of us, we should be in a strong position from the outset, and the first round at Monza can’t come soon enough.”
GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup 2020 Calendar
17-19 April – Monza, Italy
9-10 May – Silverstone, Great Britain
29-30 May – Circuit Paul Ricard, France
23-26 July – Total 24 Hours of Spa, Belgium
4-6 September – Nürburgring, Germany
Photo credit: McLaren Automotive