British racing team Tolman Motorsport has stepped into the world of esports with a new multi-event sim racing programme run under the Tolman Esports by HCR banner.
Tolman – the McLaren Customer Racing team responsible for operating the McLaren Automotive Driver Development Programme (DDP) in the British GT Championship – says the move represents ‘a huge opportunity to apply its skills and expertise in the virtual world, enhance driver development and increase brand awareness’.
The Tolman Esports by HCR programme is the result of a new partnership with Happy Cat Racing, a squad of 24 sim racers who have achieved three wins in The Online Racing Association (TORA) 24 Hours of Le Mans, a brace of victories in the TORA 12 Hours of Sebring and successes in the Daytona 24 Hours.
HCR is already proficient on the iRacing platform: a victory on its endurance racing debut in the 2017 edition of the Daytona 24 Hours preceded wins in 12-hour contests at Bathurst and Sebring. It has also continued running competitively in 2020, having finished runner-up in last month’s Nurburgring 24 Hours.
The newly launched Tolman esports by HCR team will begin by tackling the iRacing VRS Endurance Series. Drivers will race McLaren MP4-12C GT3s in Tolman’s real-world British GT liveries, firstly in the 3 Hours of Road Atlanta today (May 17th).
The dynamic between real-life racers and esports drivers will also be tested in the coming months, when 2020 McLaren DDP drivers Michael Benyahia, Alain Valente, Harry Hayek and Katie Milner join Tolman Esports by HCR for special events, such as the iRacing Spa 24 Hours.
Tolman’s engineers will also be on hand to provide technical support and guide car setup in their free time.
Happy Cat Racing team manager Chris Bell said: “We are incredibly proud of this project and it’s great to see Tolman Motorsport using esports as a legitimate arena for driver development and progression. We have seen amazing things happen for sim racing, especially in these difficult times, and I believe this will provide a great platform for showcasing our sport to the world.”
Tolman’s MD Christopher Tolman added: “We have chosen to step into the huge and fast-growing sim racing arena with the very capable Happy Cat Racing team and we’re taking a targeted approach, focusing solely on GT contests with McLaren machinery.
“It was disappointing to have to postpone rounds of the 2020 British GT season, but the health and safety of everyone involved with the championship is paramount and esports provides an interesting opportunity to apply our skills in the virtual world.”
Aside from its participation in the iRacing VRS Endurance Series 3 Hours of Road Atlanta today (May 17th), Tolman will also take part in the iRacing VRS Endurance Series 3 Hours of Road America on May 31st, the iRacing Spa 24 Hours on July 11th and 12th, and the iRacing Petit Le Mans (Road Atlanta) on October 3rd.
Dom is an award-winning writer who graduated from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 degree in Multi-Media Journalism in 2007.
As a long-time gamer having first picked up the NES controller in the late ’80s, he has written for a range of publications including GamesTM, Nintendo Official Magazine, industry publication MCV as well as Riot Games and others. He worked as head of content for the British Esports Association up until February 2021, when he stepped back to work full-time on Esports News UK and as an esports consultant helping brands and businesses better understand the industry.