The team had a successful visit to Yas Marina Circuit for last year’s event, taking a dominant one-two in class with a pair of McLaren 570S GT4s, but this time out has its sight set higher as it steps into the GT3 ranks.
Climbing behind the wheel will be British GT Championship regulars Shaun Balfe, who gave the 720S GT3 its maiden UK victory in 2019 and Lewis Proctor, who currently competes in the car with Optimum Motorsport, who will be joined by Stewart Proctor, who is competing in three rounds of the series with Balfe Motorsport this season.
Stewart, a graduate of the successful Pure McLaren GT Series entered several races with Balfe Motorsport last year in a 570S GT4 and took a British GT Championship GT3 Pro-Am podium finish in his second race in the class alongside Joe Osborne in August.
Shaun has competed in McLaren machinery for several years, claiming the 2017 GT Open Pro-Am title alongside Rob Bell in a 650S GT3, and the pair debuted the 720S GT3 in the UK last year, taking its maiden win at Donington Park and finishing just five points from the Drivers’ title.
Lewis is a young star and member of the McLaren Driver Academy, racing in the Silver Cup in British GT in a 720S GT3 this season. He took a podium finish in the opening race of the season at Oulton Park after two seasons in GT4.
The tenth edition of the popular Gulf 12 Hours gets underway on Thursday, January 7th with night practice, before three further practice sessions the following day before qualifying. The race will once again be split into two six-hour halves, taking place on Saturday, January 9th with a two-hour break in between both periods.
“I have a smile on my face thinking about the race. Warm weather, blue skies, a Formula 1 track, and McLaren 720S GT3 with some of our current customers means there’s a lot to look forward to.
“It will be a new track for me but one on which Balfe Motorsport has experienced success already in the 2019 race, so we’ve set a high benchmark and I’m sure there will be eyes on us seeing what we can achieve. It will be the longest race I’ve competed in for some time, but I am really looking forward to the challenge.”
“I am really excited to be taking part in the Gulf 12 Hours. It’s been fun getting used to racing the McLaren 720S GT3 this year and we’ve taken part in those races with an eye on travelling to Yas Marina, originally to end the year but now to start 2021 in style.
“The McLaren is really enjoyable to drive, and I have felt at home with the team at Balfe Motorsport over the past two years as I take on new challenges after racing in the Pure McLaren GT Series. I have no doubt it will be a tough race but it’s one which I cannot wait for, especially being able to share the car with Lewis.”
“My dad and I got into racing at the same time around three years ago, competing in various McLarens, so it will be good to be team-mates at the Gulf 12 Hours. I’m excited to work with Shaun and to be racing at a time of the year we don’t usually do much, with nice weather, in a GT3 McLaren.
“There’s a lot of appeal to racing at Abu Dhabi, especially with the hotel and the lights, so I’ll be in the simulator learning the track. During my time with McLaren I’ve always found it helpful to be giving advice to other drivers because it makes me think about what I’m doing, so we’ll all be working together, and I’ll be helping the Ams out.”