> Katie Milner, Michael Benyahia, Harry Hayek and Alain Valente split across two 570S GT4s
Tolman Motorsport’s 2020 British GT4 line-up will once again feature four McLaren Automotive Driver Development Programme members following confirmation of the manufacturer’s new junior roster.
Katie Milner, Michael Benyahia, Harry Hayek and Alain Valente will share Tolman’s two 570S GT4 entries after beating 14 other hopefuls during a two-day selection process at Snetterton.
Tolman’s British GT4 programme has comprised DDP members for the past two years. The squad has twice finished second in the Teams’ standings, while Michael O’Brien and Charlie Fagg missed out on 2018’s Drivers’ title by just two points. Both of this year’s DDP crews also entered Donington’s season finale with a mathematical chance of winning the championship.
2020’s shortlist, which featured drivers hailing from a diverse motorsport background, were also individually assessed on data analysis and telemetry, as well as their working relationship with the engineering team and driver coaches. Off track, each hopeful was subjected to a mental and physical assessment, while media interviews were carried out in conjunction with the team from motorsport.com. Fitness tests were run by programme partner iZone.
“The Driver Development Programme is an extremely important part of the motorsport landscape at McLaren Automotive, and it is becoming stronger with each season,” said McLaren Automotive’sDanny Buxton.
“This year’s group of shortlisted drivers was the largest we have ever assessed and it was a truly global mix, which is great to see. They were also the strongest selection we’ve ever seen, and the decision for the final four was extremely difficult.”
20-year old Katie Milner, from York, is the first woman ever to feature on McLaren’s DDP roster. She proved herself with multiple championship-winning performances in Autograss before becoming the first female Junior Saloon champion in 2016. She then moved across to the Ginetta GT5 Challenge where she continued to fine-tune her racecraft with a number of race-winning performances. Milner was also awarded the British Women Racing Drivers Club (BWRDC) Gold Star in 2016.
Michael Benyahia, from Florida, returns to familiar surroundings in 2020 after racing a McLaren in ADAC GT4 Germany this year. Of particular note was his performance with Team GT at the Nürburgring where the 19-year old scored victory, which helped him to finish sixth in the final standings. His GT4 switch came two seasons after winning Formula Renault NEC.
DDP’s global appeal continues withSydney-born Harry Hayek who became multiple Australian State karting champion before moving to single-seaters. Australian F4 race wins followed before switching to the British F3 Championship in 2017. A severe accident and subsequent health issues checked his career progression, but after battling to make a full recovery he returned to racing in 2019 and immediately impressed with a podium on his Australian F4 return.
Tolman’s line-up is completed byAlain Valente who campaigned Team GT’s other McLaren in ADAC GT4 Germany this year. The Swiss claimed one victory en route to 11th in the Drivers’ Championship following a year in the GT4 European Series.
Tolman’s exact pairings will be revealed in due course.
Oulton Park hosts British GT’s 2020 season opener on April 11 & 13. Reserve your tickets here.