Scotland’s reigning British GT4 Champion Ross Wylie has been chosen by McLaren GT for its newly announced “Young Driver” programme.
It sees the 23-year-old from Thornhill near Dumfries, who embarks on only his fourth full season of car racing, continue his tremendous rise up the motor racing ladder.
Wylie sensationally scored three wins and three second places in the 10-race series to claim the 2014 Avon Tyres British GT4 Championship at his first attempt in the ultra-competitive series.
“I am absolutely delighted to have been selected to be part of the McLaren GT Young Driver Programme – it’s definitely another big step forward in my career,” confirmed Ross who was announced as part of the exciting programme at theAutosport International Show in Birmingham last weekend (10 January).
“It’s such a great opportunity to be racing with and representing such a well respected worldwide brand. To receive this level of support at this stage in my career is amazing.”
McLaren GT is the GT race car manufacturing arm of McLaren Group established to develop, build and support the GT racing and track derivatives of the 12C sports car, and the 650S GT3. Based in Woking, Surrey at the former home of McLaren Racing, the company is responsible for the design, development and production of the GT3 variants of the 12C and 650S, the 12C GT Can-Am Edition and the 12C GT Sprint.
Ross and Andrew Watson (Northern Ireland, 19) will work with McLaren GT and the existing trio of factory drivers of Rob Bell, Kevin Estre and Alvaro Parente to further enhance their skills and knowledge for a competitive career in GT racing.
The McLaren GT Young Driver Programme announcement follows a successful 2014 season, which was brought to a close with a successful competitive debut for the new 650S GT3 at the Gulf 12 Hours.
Wylie has been closely monitored by McLaren GT Managing Director Andrew Kirkaldy.
Kirkaldy commented: “It is great that we are in the position to offer Ross and Andrew an opportunity to become part of our team, and help give them a boost with their careers.
“The GT racing scene is as exciting now as I can ever remember, and there is a huge amount of talent on every grid week-in week-out, so it can be difficult for young drivers to get on the first rung of the ladder to show their true potential.
“This programme is designed to offer young drivers we feel have something special a chance to show what they can do behind the wheel of a GT car, and also work closely with our drivers, engineers and technical teams, giving them access to many years of race- and championship-winning experience at the highest levels.”
McLaren is best known as a Formula One constructor but has also competed and won the Indianapolis 500. The team is one of the most successful in F1 history, having won 182 races, 12 drivers’ championships and eight constructors’ championships.
Ross continued: “I was a big DC [David Coulthard] fan when I was a wee boy. Watching David with his Saltire helmet racing a McLaren Formula One car was definitely a highlight when I was a kid. It also inspired me at that age when I started my eight-year spell in karting.
“I have tested McLaren’s new GT3 car, the 650S, at Snetterton and at the Circuit Catalunya in Barcelona, and on both occasions it was such a thrill to drive.”
McLaren GT customer teams will race the new 650S GT3 in a number of championships around the world.
“It’s certainly a big step up in performance from the GT4 sportscar that I raced in 2014. The top GT3 category allows more aerodynamic aids while the engine is much more powerful.”
Wylie claimed extremely creditable fifth and sixth positions in the final standings of the 2013 Volkswagen Scirocco Junior R-Cup and Volkswagen Racing Cup before switching to the British GT Championship last year.
Ross concluded: “Looking back on my 2014 season, it was amazing to win the British GT4 title in my first year of GT racing. There’s only one direction I want my career to go in so I’m 100% determined to keep the momentum going forward for my maiden GT3 season in 2015.
“I am under no illusion how competitive this category of racing is and the world class drivers who compete in it. 2015 will be tough and a steep learning curve, for both myself and my new team-mate Andrew who will also be racing in GT3 for the first time.
“But with guidance and support from McLaren GT, I’m sure we’ll be capable of doing a good job throughout the season.”
The specific championship along with which team Wylie races with will be announced in the coming weeks.
* Editorial copyright free photographs attached of Ross Wylie taken at the Autosport International Racing Car Show in Birmingham last weekend (10 Jan)