Young gun Harry Hayek has secured a factory McLaren drive in the British GT Championship next year.
The 21-year-old Sydney driver will pilot one of two McLaren Automotive Driver Development program 570S GT4s, run by Tolman Motorsport, in the UK’s top GT series.
Hayek earned one for four spots on the grid after impressing during the McLaren Automotive Driver Development competition held over two days at England’s Snetterton circuit earlier this year.
The contest saw 18 young drivers from all over the world put through an intensive program.
Each participant arrived at the circuit with the programme set up to simulate a race weekend, working with the McLaren Customer Racing engineers on set-up before embarking on qualifying and race simulations.
After the track running, the drivers were then individually assessed on data analysis and telemetry, working with the engineering team and driver coaches.
Off track, each of the drivers were subjected to a mental and physical assessment that also included a media challenge.
Hayek impressed the judges and will be joined in the British GT McLaren Automotive Driver Development line-up by Katie Milner (UK), Michael Benyahia (USA), and Alain Valente (Switzerland).
The drive offers Hayek a second chance to race in the UK after competing in the 2016 British Formula Four Championship and 2017 BRDC British F3 Championship.
Ironically it was Snetterton in 2017 when a F3 testing crash halted his motorsport career for several months after suffering a fractured vertebrae in a practice crash.
Hayek made a racing return in the Kumho V8 Touring Cars last year but a kidney disease left him on the sidelines until this year when he contested races in Formula 4 and the Toyota 86 Racing Series.
Earlier this year he had indicated that a pathway into GT racing was his aim which has resulted in impressing McLaren’s operation.
“The Driver Development Programme is an extremely important part of the motorsport landscape at McLaren Automotive, and it is becoming stronger with each season,” said Danny Buxton, Drive Team Leader, McLaren Automotive.
“This year’s group of shortlisted drivers was the largest we have ever assessed and it was a truly global mix, which is great to see. They were also the strongest selection we’ve ever seen, and the decision for the final four was extremely difficult.
“The aim of the Driver Development Programme is to work with each of the four successful candidates throughout the year and help build them into a more complete driver, both on and off the track.
“Each one of the drivers who took part in the assessment is a true young professional and extremely capable and competent. There is no denying they are all very quick behind the wheel, but the driving is only a small part of what it takes to build a successful and sustainable career in motorsport.
“For Katie, Michael, Harry and Alain the work really starts now, and we will work with them – and push them – to build and improve their whole skill-set. Throughout the year, the team will work on a number of areas including personal fitness, nutrition, engineering expertise, racecraft and PR to help them develop into a complete package as a racing driver.”
The British GT Championship begins at Oulton Park from April 11-13.