McLaren Automotive has confirmed an expansion of the Factory Driver programme for its GT activities on the eve of the 2018 season. The appointment sees Ben Barnicoat, Paul Holton and Joe Osborne added to the Factory Driver stable, bringing extensive experience of British and North American GT racing, with all three having raced successfully in a McLaren during last season. The trio joins the previously confirmed senior professional driver, Rob Bell.
Paul Holton, 24, from Tallahassee, Florida signs with McLaren following a strong year competing with customer team C360R and the 570S GT4 in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge – GS in North America. In his debut season at the wheel of the 570S GT4, Holton secured four pole positions, one of which he converted to a race win at the Circuit of the Americas, and three further podiums. He was also crowned the Pirelli World Challenge TC champion last year, with four wins, seven podiums and five pole-positions in the highly-competitive touring car series.
Britons Ben Barnicoat and Joe Osborne add to the Factory Driver setup, and arrive with a full season of McLaren track experience under their belts from 2017, in GT3 and GT4 respectively. Barnicoat has risen through the ranks of single-seat and GT racing over the past few years, and now steps up as a full works driver role following an impressive run with McLaren GT3 customer teams in 2017. The 21-year-old from Chesterfield, re-joins the McLaren family, having previously been part of the McLaren Formula 1 team young driver programme.
Joe Osborne joins the McLaren Factory Driver line-up following a strong 2017 season which saw the 28-year-old secure a trio of class wins and runner up in the Pro-Am GT4 championship in British GT while racing with customer team Tolman Motorsport. His outright speed at the wheel of the 570S GT4 saw him claim the 2017 Allan Simonsen Award, handed out to the British GT Championship’s fastest driver under the radar. Osborne boasts years of experience in British GT, and success across Europe and beyond in GT racing.
The trio join the programme alongside Rob Bell, who was previously confirmed. Bell is one of the most accomplished and experienced GT drivers of his generation and has raced every model of GT racing McLaren in the current era. He has won multiple championships with the 12C GT3 and 650S GT3, in various categories and series, including the 2016 Blancpain GT Endurance Cup title, as well as the Asian Le Mans Series GT championship in the same year. 2017 saw him claim his latest title with McLaren, securing the International GT Open Pro-Am title.
This announcement further strengthens the bold motorsport plans laid out by McLaren Automotive, which will see the latest Super Series-based GT3 model, the 720S GT3, developed by this pool of drivers throughout 2018 before competitive racing with customer teams during 2019.
Driver race schedules for the 2018 season will be announced shortly.