The McLaren Driver Development Programme will resume in 2021 with Team Rocket RJN now running both of the factory’s Intelligent Money British GT4 Championship entries.
Katie Milner, Michael Benyahia, Harry Hayek and Alain Valente were all due to compete in GT4 cars for the 2020 British GT season but the programme was suspended last year by McLaren before the coronavirus-affected campaign began.
They all return to take their places for the new season although final pairings will be confirmed at a later date.
It also sees a return of the Team Rocket RJN concern to the GT4 ranks having last competed in the 2018 season with a pair Nissan 370Zs when the team was still known as RJN Motorsport.
It will also be the first time the time has ran the 570S GT4 McLaren in the series, but the team are familiar with the brand as they successfully ran a McLaren 720S in the GT3 class last year with James Baldwin and 2018 McLaren DPP graduate Michael O’Brien, finishing fourth in the series.
The DPP line-up see it’s first ever female participant in 21-year-old Milner from York.
The daughter of two time British Rally Champion Jonny, she has racked up multiple championship-winning performances in Autograss before becoming the first female Junior Saloon champion in 2016 an achievement which saw her awarded the British Women Racing Drivers Club (BWRDC) Gold Star in 2016.
She then moved across to the Ginetta GT5 Challenge where she continued to fine-tune her racecraft with a number of race-winning performances.
Moroccan Benyahia returns to familiar surroundings in 2021 after racing a McLaren in ADAC GT4 Germany two years ago where in to finished sixth in the standings.
The 20-year-old made the GT4 switch two seasons after winning Formula Renault NEC.
The other participants are 22-year-old Australian Hayek a former British F3 runner whose progress was interrupted by severe accident and subsequent health issues but successfully made a full recovery to take several podiums in Australian F4 in 2019.
The DDP and Team Rocket RJN line-up is completed by Valente who campaigned Team GT’s other McLaren in ADAC GT4 Germany two years ago.
The Swiss claimed one victory en route to 11th in the Drivers’ Championship following a year in the GT4 European Series.
“We are delighted to finally have the opportunity to deliver the McLaren Driver Development Programme to the four highly promising young drivers that we selected a year ago during a rigorous assessment process,” said McLaren Customer Racing director Ian Morgan.
“Following an excellent season in the Intelligent Money British GT Championship, we are also delighted to confirm Team Rocket RJN as the team that will be running our four drivers.
“This exciting new partnership should see them fulfil their potential by achieving great results in the GT4 title race.”
Team Rocket RJN co-owner Chris Buncombe added: “Announcing our involvement with the McLaren Driver Development Programme is a fantastic way to begin our second season as a McLaren Customer Racing team.
“We’re also looking forward to expanding into the Intelligent Money British GT Championship’s GT4 class following a hugely successful debut campaign with the McLaren 720S GT3, which powered James Baldwin and Michael O’Brien to third place in the Silver Cup standings.
“With the 2021 season on track to get underway in late spring we’re confident that our highly talented young drivers will be a force to be reckoned with in the McLaren 570S GT4.”
Brands Hatch hosts the opening round of this season’s Intelligent Money British GT Championship on May 22/23.