• 2009 Formula 1 World Champion returns to competition in a McLaren with own Customer Racing Team in SRO e-sports series
  • McLaren GT3 Factory Drivers Ben Barnicoat and Martin Kodrić join new virtual race programme
  • Professional drivers and e-sports stars will compete in McLaren 720S GT3 race cars

McLaren Automotive will be represented by a star-studded driver line-up for the 2020 SRO E-Sport GT Series, a new virtual race series that gets underway this Sunday, April 26, with 2009 Formula 1 World Champion and former McLaren Grand Prix race-winner Jenson Button heading the list.

With the SRO GT World Challenge motor racing events postponed due to the Covid-19 crisis, an online e-sports series has been devised using Assetto Corsa Competizione, the official GT World Challenge Powered by AWS racing simulation game. The 5-round series features three classes competing in separate races, followed by a grand finale race featuring the top performers in each class.

McLaren Automotive will be represented by 10 drivers in the SRO E-Sport GT Series, with six taking part in the Pro Series for real-world competitors and a further four in the Silver Series for invited ‘sim’ drivers who have already established their driving credentials in simulated racing. The Series also features an Am class that will be decided by a public ‘hot-lap’ competition.

2009 Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button will headline the Pro class for McLaren. Button raced for McLaren for seven seasons – finishing the 2011 season as runner-up – before making a one-off final appearance in the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix. Following a career totalling 306 Grand Prix starts – joint fourth in the all-time list – he made his e-sport debut with McLaren in the Formula 1 virtual Grand Prix earlier this month. With this experience under his belt, Button is turning to virtual GT racing, mirroring his real-life position as a team owner in GT competition which sees Jenson Team Rocket RJN running a McLaren 720S GT3.

McLaren Customer Racing Factory driver Ben Barnicoat will represent newly-established team 2Seas Motorsport. Barnicoat has raced for several McLaren Customer Racing teams having played a key role in the 720S GT3’s successful race debut at the end of 2018 and most including recently finishing 2nd overall at the 2020 Bathurst 12hr for Customer Racing Team 59Racing.

Customer Racing Team 59Racing will field seasoned driver Martin Kodrić, who also claimed a class win in the Bathurst 12 Hour Race this January and is due to compete in the Australian Endurance Championship. Kodrić finished third in the International GT Open last season, driving for McLaren Customer Racing team, Teo Martin Motorsport.

Michael O’Brien, one of the drivers in the inaugural McLaren Automotive Driver Development Programme (DDP) in 2018, will drive a McLaren Customer Racing-liveried 720S GT3.

Two further 720S GT3 cars will line up on the virtual grid, entered by Customer Racing Teams. Teo Martin Motorsport which will be represented by experienced GT racer Fabrizio Crestani, while historic single-seater racer Benjamin Tusting will compete for British GT front-running squad Balfe Motorsport.

In the Silver class for e-sports competitors, SRO Charity Challenge winner Arthur Kammerer will represent McLaren, racing alongside fellow G2 Esports front-runner Nils Naujoks. Racing oN3 will run Patrick Selva and the AJAR Simracing Team will field Jura Petritchenko.

The opening round of the 2020 SRO E-Sport GT Series action begins with one-hour races for both the Pro and Silver Series at 13.35 CET on Sunday, April 26. Coverage will be provided across a range of channels, including the GT World YouTube and Dailymotion accounts and the SRO Motorsports Twitch and Facebook pages.