2023: Paddock pairs Smith with Plowman in first of two full-season McLaren entries

2023: Paddock pairs Smith with Plowman in first of two full-season McLaren entries

Mark Smith is switching to the Intelligent Money British GT Championship full time this season after filling one of Paddock Motorsport’s two McLaren entries.

The Californian will partner racer turned team owner Martin Plowman in the same 720S GT3 with which he made an eye-catching debut at Donington Park in October.

Paddock will reveal its second entry in the coming weeks.

Meantime, Smith’s addition reprises a partnership that showed plenty of promise at British GT’s season finale. That event didn’t just mark his series debut but also the first time Smith had raced a GT3 car competitively. And the fourth fastest time in qualifying suggests there’s plenty more to come from last year’s Porsche Sprint Challenge North America runner-up.

“Joining Paddock Motorsport and Martin Plowman to campaign their McLaren 720S GT3 in the British GT Pro-Am class is an incredible opportunity to both continue developing as a driver and to compete with a very strong group of racers in some amazing machinery,” he said. 

“Martin is an amazing co-driver, and I am very excited to work with him. As an amateur driver, you want to find a Pro who not only has pace, but who makes that pace rub off on you. Martin’s list of wins and championships demonstrates his speed, but as I learned at Donington last year, he also makes his Am faster. I’m confident that Paddock’s engineers and mechanics will give us a great car this year and that we will have the pieces in place for a run at the podium.”

Kelvin Fletcher’s decision to step away from Paddock leaves Plowman as the team’s sole owner. But the former IndyCar driver and FIA WEC LMP2 world champion is just as focused on getting Smith up to speed.

“I’m really excited about British GT this year, and to be working with Mark,” he said. “He enjoyed a really impressive British GT debut with us at the end of last season, and the way he adapted so quickly to both the circuit and a GT3 car shows we have real potential for this season. 

“Obviously, there will be a learning curve as the championship is shaping up to be highly competitive with a big grid and a lot of quality drivers, but we have a full testing programme planned to get Mark as much experience as possible of both the car and the British circuits. I have no doubt that Mark will be one of the amateur drivers to watch this year, and I hope we’ll make a very competitive pairing.”

The Paddock McLaren’s updated livery will be revealed before British GT’s media day at Donington on March 14. The championship itself burst into life at Oulton Park one month later (April 8 & 10).