Reigning GT Cup champions Simon Orange and Michael O’Brien will join the Intelligent Money British GT Championship full-time this season with their Orange Racing powered by JMH McLaren.
The Pro-Am duo finished fourth on their British GT debut together in October at Donington where O’Brien set the fastest lap and Orange led before the pitstops. That successful toe-in-the-water exercise has now translated into a full-season assault with the familiar combination of drivers, team and 720S GT3.
Preparations for 2023 also include an Asian Le Mans Series entry in February. British GT race winner Marcus Clutton is set to join the duo for the four races split equally across Dubai and Abu Dhabi before the team embarks on its domestic programme.
This year will be O’Brien’s first full British GT campaign since he and James Baldwin were race winners and title contenders, also aboard a 720S GT3, in 2020. The now 28-year-old’s McLaren factory association has seen him race elsewhere since then, but most notably in GT Cup where he won the GTH (GT4) class title with his current team’s 570S in 2021.
O’Brien returned to the cockpit of a 720S at the start of last year alongside Orange who won GT Cup’s Overall and GTA championships in 2020. He then retained his GTA title in 2021 before going on to win the Overall, GT3 and Teams’ Championships in 2022 with O’Brien in what proved to be a stellar season for the team.
Orange is now hoping to carry that form into his first full-season British GT campaign, which begins at Oulton Park over Easter Bank Holiday Weekend.
“After what turned out to be quite a year in 2022, I can’t wait to get started again, only this time at the top level of GT racing in the UK by joining the Intelligent Money British GT Championship,” he said. “It’s going to be really tough as the other drivers, and teams, are the best in the business. But I believe in what we have built over the last few years and we go into this season with a great car and a great team.
“Having Michael as part of the team is a massive help. We’ve built a great relationship, on and off the track, and he's constantly trying to improve me as a driver and it’s now time to put that knowledge to good use. In Michael we have one of the quickest Pro drivers out there and we haven’t signed up for the experience, we’re here to take it to the other teams and win races! Bring it on!”
O’Brien, who also missed out on the GT4 drivers’ title by just two points in 2018, heads into the new season confident of challenging the championship’s established GT3 contenders.
“I’m delighted to be heading back to the Intelligent Money British GT Championship full time this season with Simon and the team at Orange Racing powered by JMH, after a hugely successful first two seasons together,” he said. “We’ve got a busy winter ahead with a full campaign in the Asian Le Mans Series but that should also serve as great preparation for myself, and the team, and put us in a strong position for the season opener at Oulton Park.
“Despite a strong showing at the Donington Decider last season, we can’t afford to take our foot off the gas, such is the level of the championship! My goal is clear: I’m here to win the championship and I want to make sure we’re in a position to do that. With such a strong team, and team-mate, around me, alongside the mighty McLaren 720S GT3 we’re in a good place coming into the ‘23 season.”
Season 31 of the Intelligent Money British GT Championship gets underway at Oulton Park on April 8 & 10.