Tolman Motorsport has become the first team to enter a customer McLaren 570S GT4 in next season’s British GT Championship after recruiting Joe Osborne to partner David Pattison.
The Warwickshire-based squad has run GT3 and GT4-spec Ginettas during its two seasons in the series, but will now switch to the McLaren - which won twice during its maiden campaign in the hands of Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse - for Tolman’s return to GT4.
Best known for his GT3 exploits over the past five full seasons, Osborne’s British GT career actually began in the GT4 class back in 2008 when he won twice en route to third in the standings, before claiming the European GT4 Series crown 12 months later.
He began working as Pattison’s driver coach four years ago but this will be the first time they have teamed up in British GT.
Pattison finished third in GT4’s Pro/Am standings during his maiden 2015 campaign with Tolman and Luke Davenport, before stepping up to the GT3 ranks with the same combination this year. He believes now is the right time for a change of approach.
“I’m delighted to be finally racing with ‘coach’ Joe,” said Pattison, who won at Brands Hatch in 2015. “I came to racing very late, fulfilling a lifetime ambition. Joe has been instrumental in my progress, and I am hungry to learn more. Having driven the McLaren I feel confident that we have a very good car.
“Joe has coached me over the last four years, but to race with him and be supported by Tolman in the first McLaren 570S GT4 for a customer team is fantastic. It feels like a very good team. It’s my third year in British GT and I really like the format. Benjamin, Lauren and the rest of the SRO team do a brilliant job. I can’t wait.”
Osborne, meanwhile, is looking forward to a change of scenery after spending the past five seasons driving Porsche and BMW GT3 machinery.
“It’s been seven years since I raced in GT4, but in 2017 it will be more competitive than this season, with more manufacturer variety,” he said. “Arguably it’ll be better to watch than GT3. The road-version of the McLaren is a car I know well from work I do with the brand outside of racing, so its performance shouldn’t be a big surprise to me.
“I would say that it’ll be different being lapped again after racing in GT3, but after trying to compete with the new generation cars in the Z4 this season, it probably won’t be much different!
“Working with Tolman and David will be great. He’s another one of my pupils that I’ve worked with since they first began racing. My partner in GT3, Lee [Mowle], was the same. All of the gent drivers do this as a hobby, so my job is to make them consistent and perform well – David has shown he’s capable of more already and we should be in for a good year.”
Team principal Chris Tolman added that switching to McLaren opened up more options for the future.
“We’re very pleased to have secured about the best combination of drivers and car that you could assemble for our 2017 British GT campaign,” he said.
“We had a great run with Ginetta who have been very good to us, and motorsport, over the years, culminating in us running their GT3 project this season. Tolman Motorsport wants to get to Le Mans in the next two-to-three years and we felt McLaren are the brand to do that with. We’ve already got a good rapport with the team at McLaren and we’re proud to be associated with that name. It’s also a huge honour to be the first customer McLaren GT4 team.
“We want to be in a position to get good results in 2017 British GT4. I think we have the package to do that. In Joe, we have someone who has helped Tolman Motorsport get to where it is. Alongside him is David who is a fantastic driver and quick learner; it feels like we’re in for a good year.”
Tolman Motorsport’s definitive livery will be unveiled at the 2017 media day next March, ahead of the championship’s opening round of the season at Oulton Park on April 15 & 17.