Paddock expands British GT commitment with multi-class McLaren programme

Paddock expands British GT commitment with multi-class McLaren programme

> Fletcher and Plowman switch to 720S GT3
> 570S GT4 for race winner Marshall and debutant Ritson

Paddock Motorsport has expanded its Intelligent Money British GT Championship programme this season after teaming up with McLaren for a dual GT3 and GT4 assault.

Familiar Pro-Am duo Martin Plowman and Kelvin Fletcher return, albeit aboard a 720S GT3, while Ashley Marshall – who won at Spa last season – shares the team’s 570S GT4 with Moh Ritson who finished second in GT Cup’s GTH (GT4) class in 2021.

Plowman and Fletcher established their own team at the end of their GT4 Pro-Am title-winning campaign with Beechdean AMR in 2019. Two years later, and after sitting out the pandemic-hit 2020 season, they initially returned with JRM before switching to their own Paddock outfit from Round 2 onwards.

The pair scored a best finish of second and Fletcher also notched up his first GT3 pole en route to 11th in the drivers’ standings. Now, and with the growing pains of establishing a new operation quickly and from scratch behind them, the team owners and co-drivers are hopeful of becoming regular victory and podium contenders.

“I’ll be honest: the team was flying by the seat of its pants last year!” said Fletcher. “Martin and I were supposed to spend the season with JRM but when that unravelled we were left with no choice but to turn Paddock into a bona fide British GT operation literally overnight. That wasn’t the plan at all: it was supposed to be something we built slowly, methodically and when time allowed, but the situation dictated otherwise. Just having the Bentley on track each weekend required a minor miracle and amazing support behind the scenes, most notably from Martin’s mum and dad who rolled up their sleeves and got stuck in.

“We learnt a helluva lot in a very short space of time but can now put that experience to good use by expanding further this year. Paddock is already the race team I think we hoped we’d have maybe two or three years down the line. We were already running the McLaren GT4 in GT Cup so that’s a known quantity and continuation for the drivers, as well as a natural progression for the team. It means Martin and I can focus more on our own racing, getting to grips with the 720S and building on our existing GT3 momentum.”

Plowman added: “Our Snetterton podium and Kelvin’s pole at Oulton felt like championship wins given what we’d been through at the start of the season. It’s a whole new chapter this year. We’re far better equipped to hit the ground running and the McLaren is also a proven performer. You only need to look at the number of them entered to know how highly rated the 720S is by Pros and Ams alike. British GT is super competitive but I do think we’ve got the potential as a pairing to give the established GT3 combinations and bigger teams a run for their money this year.”

The team’s second McLaren features Marshall who returns to the familiar surroundings of a 570S GT4, albeit one overseen by Paddock instead of Balfe.

Marshall and former co-driver Jack Brown, who has switched to Century’s BMW this year, finished sixth in the overall standings thanks to their victory in Belgium, which kickstarted a strong end to the season.

“Things really clicked at Spa and we were able to build on that as the campaign progressed,” he said. “Sticking with the 570S and building on what I learnt last year felt like the most sensible option, but the opportunity to join Paddock originally came about through McLaren. They’re a very ambitious team that overcame a lot of hurdles last season, which really underlined the scale of their achievements on track. Martin also has so much experience, both as a driver and now from running his own operation, so this feels like a really good fit for me.”

He's partnered by Ritson, another driver with existing 570S experience as well as knowledge of Paddock after racing the same car with them last year.

“Moving up to British GT is a big deal for me,” said the 19-year-old. “It looked like I’d be doing GT Cup again until a few weeks ago when Martin mooted the idea of British GT. It’s taken some time to get everything in place but I’m delighted with how things have worked out. Most of GT4’s debutants are starting from scratch and a lot of established drivers have moved teams or manufacturers. Sure, I’m new to the grid, but I know the car and team from last year, and can also count on Ash’s race-winning experience. It feels like a great combination.”

The opening round of this year’s Intelligent Money British GT Championship takes place at Oulton Park on April 16 & 18.

Image: JEP / Greystone GT