GT Daytona McLaren 720S GT3
- Paul Holton
Multiple-time Michelin Pilot Challenge Champions will contest seven-race series with new car
TORONTO, CANADA — Long-time IMSA competitors Compass Racing will add to their successful McLaren racing program with the debut of their new 720S GT3 at Mid-Ohio on May 3-5th for the first round of the WeatherTech Sprint Cup. This seven-race championship features all of the two-hour-and-forty-five minute events on the WeatherTech schedule and promises to provide thrilling competition.
Factory McLaren driver Paul Holton will be joined by Matt Plumb for the team’s championship effort, with Woking providing deep technical support at each event. “We are pleased to extend our partnership with McLaren by officially launching the new 720S GT3 in North America,” enthused Compass Racing’s President, Jill Beck. “Paul has been one of the test drivers on the car through its development over the past year, and we all have high hopes for the first race car developed entirely in-house by McLaren Automotive.”
This year marks the third season Compass Racing has fielded McLaren’s 570S GT4s, with Holton and fellow Factory driver Kuno Wittmer winning this year’s season opening round of IMSA’s Michelin Pilot Challenge at Daytona International Speedway. Holton notched the most pole positions in that series in 2018 and 2017, and the team’s No. 77 finished third in the championship in 2017 at the hands of Matthew Keegan and Nico Rondet. In 2018 the team also ran a 570S GT4 in the SRO’s Pirelli GT4 America series, with Holton winning a nail-biting battle at Long Beach, California, and is technical partner to Andretti Autosport’s 2019 McLaren GT4 program (where Jarett Andretti and Compass Racing Team Principal Karl Thomson notched a win at Circuit of the Americas in the series’ debut).
“We’ve worked closely with McLaren in developing their GT4 car over the past few seasons, and look forward to continuing that strong relationship over the coming years, in both GT3 and GT4,” noted Beck. “The new Sprint Cup is something we’d hoped IMSA would implement, as it provides a perfect ladder for our McLaren program, with steps from GS to Sprint to a full WeatherTech effort.”
Reflecting on his development work with the new platform, Holton said, "The production GT3 has impressed with the refinement of what is a very bespoke package, and is the result of extensive testing and development throughout the past year,” he said. Indeed, Holton is one of four drivers tasked with turning early prototypes into fully-fledged race cars designed to compete at the very top level of production-car racing, and was deeply involved in the European testing.
Plumb, the winningest driver in GS history, returns for his third year with the team. “In developing a new car, driver continuity counts for a lot, and we are pleased to have Matt and Paul working with us on our GT3 program,” remarked Thomson. “We know the competition in WeatherTech is fierce, but we believe that fifteen straight years of battling in the Michelin Pilot Challenge has prepared us for the fight.”
Dan Walmsley, Director of Motorsport at McLaren Automotive, welcomed the Compass Racing as the first team worldwide to publicly announce its GT3 program. "The 720S GT3 is the first race car designed and built by McLaren Automotive and is an important product for our company, and therefore we have committed to ensuring that we deliver a product worthy of carrying the iconic brand. Compass Racing has been an invaluable partner to us and has already demonstrated their commitment to winning through their results thus far this season.”
The Sprint Championship begins at Mid-Ohio in May with races on offer at legendary tracks including Belle Isle (Detroit), Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, Lime Rock Park, Road America, Virginia International Raceway and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. CTMP and Laguna Seca will be televised live on NBC, with the remainder live on NBCSN.