Ollie Wilkinson will take the biggest step of his young racing career by becoming a McLaren Professional Driver, after being recruited by the customer racing division of the world-famous British manufacturer.
The 23-year-old from Leeds has made big strides in the GT ranks across the last two years, having only started his motorsport career three years ago.
During two terms at the wheel of Optimum Motorsport GT3 machinery – including both Audi and Aston Martin customer cars – Wilkinson has proven himself to be an outstanding talent in sportscar racing.
This year he and team-mate Bradley Ellis won the British GT Championship’s Silver Cup title, and Wilkinson also starred in a parallel programme in the International GT Open, winning the series’ milestone 200th race in Austria in the summer to add to his list of successes in European GT3 competition.
Such achievements made Wilkinson a prime target for McLaren Automotive – one of the most famous names in the sport.
The Yorkshireman will race as an official McLaren Professional Driver from next year, meaning he will benefit from full training and support from the Woking firm, as well as getting the chance to represent the brand at the wheel of a 720S GT3 on the global stage.
Wilkinson’s international racing programmeis expected to be announced early in the new year.
“This is a dream come true,” said Wilkinson on his chance to represent McLaren Automotive. “Every young driver goes in to motorsport with aspirations of becoming a professional, associated with a factory, so to have that is a massive achievement for me at such an early stage of my career.
“I have to say a massive thanks to McLaren for putting this level of trust in me to go and do a great job.
“It’s an honour to be considered good enough to represent McLaren in that way.
“It’s amazing for everything to happen so quickly, and to have achieved what I have so far. Becoming a McLaren Professional Driver caps off a truly unbelievable year – winning the British GT Silver Cup, taking multiple outright GT3 wins and becoming a BRDC Rising Star.
“The 720S GT3 is a great credit to McLaren Automotive. From my first few test sessions, the technical superiority of both McLaren and the car shines through.
“I’m looking forward to really getting on terms with the car in early season testing and I’m excited to release our 2020 plans early next year.”
Ian Morgan, director of motorsport at McLaren Automotive added: “We are extremely pleased to welcome Ollie Wilkinson to McLaren as a Professional Driver for the 2020 season.
“He has impressed with strong results on track in his relatively short motorsport career, and has proved to be an exciting talent who we have watched with interest throughout the 2019 season.
“He brings raw pace and ability, which he showed with some stand-out results during the year, taking the British GT Silver Cup title, and we are looking forward to working closely to build on and further develop all aspects of his skill set – both on and off track.”