DOYLESTOWN, Pa. – Reigning Pirelli World Challenge GT Cup Champion Colin Thompson has been chosen to represent McLaren GT as part of its Acedemy Driver Program. As a result, Thompson will join K-PAX Racing in the Pirelli World Challenge GT Championship in the No. 13 McLaren 650S.
After back-to-back national championships (Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA in 2014 and Pirelli World Challenge GT Cup in 2015), Thompson received an invitation from luxury automaker McLaren to test at the Paul Ricard circuit in France.
“The introduction to McLaren GT came through my Flying Lizard relationship,” Thompson said. “I’d been doing the 12 Hours of Sebring and Petit Le Mans with them. Through strong performances in those events and my two Championships, I was offered a test. I flew over for three days and did a test along with one of the factory guys. They liked what they saw in me and offered me a position in their Young Driver Program and I absolutely took them up on that. I’m excited to represent McLaren GT through K-PAX in the top level of sportscar racing in America.”
McLaren GT is coming off its most successful season since the program debuted in 2012. The McLaren 650S GT3 earned 24 victories in major GT series across the globe last year. Four of those wins came courtesy of K-PAX Racing in the World Challenge series.
“McLaren’s always been one of those iconic brands that’s right up there with Lamborghini and Ferrari, so it’s definitely cool to be representing one of the top-tier luxury brands in the world,” Thompson said. “In 2015, McLaren GT switched to the new body style, the 650S, which proved to be extremely competitive and locked in wins around the world. Now, it’s even more refined and one of the top platforms to be running in 2016.”
The 2016 Pirelli World Challenge GT Championship is comprised of 20 Round through the course of 11 different events. Races are a 50-minute sprint held rain or shine. Thompson and K-PAX will be up against the best drivers and teams representing Audi, Ferrari, Porsche, Bentley, Cadillac, Mercedes and Nissan.
“Stepping up from GT Cup to GT is definitely going to be a big step,” Thompson admitted. “GT Class racing means you’re racing against the top guys in the world really. You’ve got factory drivers from major manufacturers, ex-Formula 1 drivers and young up and comers. We were looking at the entry list for GT this year and there is legitimately 15 drivers that could win any given race. It’s going to be a shootout and the hardest competition I’ve ever seen.”
After racing in mostly single-make series for the past seven years, Thompson is relishing the chance to show what he can do when pitted against multiple manufacturers. As part of the McLaren GT Acedemy Driver program, he is also looking forward to racing opportunities outside the U.S.
“Coming up into the GT class, running as part of a factory program, is exactly what I need at this point in my career after securing two national championships. Now, it’s time to throw me in the deep end and see how I swim amongst competition that’s that best in the world. I’m really hoping that this leads to more drives on an international level. International racing is something I haven’t done as much as I would have liked to. Basically, I’m trying to do anything I can to perform the best on track with McLaren GT and let that lead to them putting me in more seats for different races.”
Along with a change in team and car, comes a change in Thompson’s social media presence. You can now find him on Twitter at @AGOGEColin and on Instagram as OfficialColinThompson.
Thompson’s debut as a McLaren GT Academy Driver is right around the corner; the Pirelli World Challenge season kicks off at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, March 3 – 5.