Tolman renews McLaren Driver Development Programme partnership
Tolman Motorsport will field a pair of 570S GT4s in British GT this season after renewing its partnership with the McLaren Driver Development Programme.
The Warwickshire-based squad finished second and third in 2018’s GT4 Teams’ and Drivers’ standings with McLaren, which has again selected British GT as the ideal training ground for its latest intake of young drivers.
James Dorlin, Jordan Collard, Josh Smith and the returning Lewis Proctor, who raced with Tolman last season, have been split across the team’s two entries. Exact pairings will be confirmed at a later date.
19-year-old Dorlin followed up a successful karting career with Junior Saloon Car Championship and Michelin Clio Cup Series titles prior to a two-year stint in the highly competitive Renault UK Clio Cup. The BRDC Rising Star finished runner-up in 2018.
“Preparations have been intense and I’m confident we will be the best equipped drivers on the grid come the opening round of the season,” said Dorlin. “I have a fantastic network of people and great resources at my disposal and my goal is to finish on top in the British GT4 standings. Tolman Motorsport came close last year and I hope to make McLaren proud by translating race victories into a championship title.”
The team’s next new recruit is the youngest son of multiple BTCC race winner, Rob, and brother of fellow GT driver, Ricky. Collard tasted victory during a prolific karting career, before stepping up to car racing in the Ginetta Junior Championship. A subsequent maiden assault on the 2018 Mini Challenge yielded outright race victories, a third-place finish in the overall standings and Rookie title.
“Tolman Motorsport had a really strong 2018 season with the McLaren 570S and it’s my intention to keep the team at the sharp end, building on the results it achieved last year while aiming for the top spot in the final championship standings,” he said.
“It is a high-pressure year and, being the youngest, I perhaps have the most work to do. However, I really enjoy the pressure; when I’m squeezed, I perform at my best and it keeps me in the zone where I can refine my abilities and extract that last percentage of performance. McLaren and Tolman Motorsport, meanwhile, are masters of reliability, both are driven brands and it’s always good to know I'm not the only one striving to win.”
Smith, meanwhile, is a former X30 Junior World Karting Champion who has MSA Formula and BRSCC Formula Ford 1600 race wins to his name, including a famous victory in the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch. Much of the 19-year-old’s focus has been on adapting his style and approach for GT competition, and he’s looking forward to applying what he has learnt when the season commences at Oulton Park on Easter Bank Holiday Weekend.
“Although I’m yet to start on-track testing, my preparations have been really good so far,” he said. “I’ve been hitting the simulator hard to transition from a single-seater style of driving to an approach that will make me quick in a GT car, primarily sticking to what McLaren has advised me to do.
"While I do have high hopes, I’m not expecting to be the complete package in the season-opener at Oulton Park. Having said that, our predecessors left big boots to fill and I expect to build on their success with Tolman Motorsport, to be in a position to push for the GT4 title come the end of the year.”
Proctor is no stranger to Tolman or McLaren, having been part of the team throughout 2018. The 22-year-old from Aberdeen has only three years of motor racing experience to his name and his rapid rise from club-level competition in a Ford Fiesta XR2 to the GT Cup ultimately earned him a coveted spot in McLaren’s inaugural Driver Development line-up in 2018.
“Last year was my first full season of racing and some of the tracks were completely new to me but being selected for the McLaren Driver Development Programme was a very positive baptism of fire,” said Proctor.
“The mentorship, facilities and resources, paired with my own work ethic and eagerness to learn, meant I progressed in leaps and bounds. As a result, I take a lot of confidence from 2018 and I really feel I can hit the ground running this year, given that I know the McLaren 570S GT4 and the British GT race weekend format so well, and there’s continuity with Tolman Motorsport. With all that, I expect improved pace, more podiums and race wins and a shot at the GT4 title.”
Both Tolman McLarens will attend British GT’s annual Media Day at Donington Park next Tuesday ahead of Oulton Park’s season opener. Fans can visit Media Day for free while tickets for April 20 & 22 are available here.