Jenson Button will make his GT3 debut in the British GT championship’s final round at Silverstone next month.
The 2009 Formula 1 champion and 15-time grand prix winner will drive a McLaren 720S GT3 entered by the Jenson Team Rocket RJN outfit he co-owns with RJN boss Bob Neville and lifelong friend Chris Buncombe, who will share the car with Button.
Since concluding his F1 career with McLaren, Button has raced in the Japanese SUPER GT championship, winning the 2018 title alongside Naoki Yamamoto in 2018, and also did a part-campaign in the FIA World Endurance Championship with the SMP Racing LMP1, taking part in the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2018.
The three-hour Silverstone 500, which will be held behind closed doors, will be his first race on home soil since the 2018 WEC round at the same track.
“This will be my first taste of a GT3 car but I’m really looking forward it,” Button said. “It will be lovely to join our team and lining-up in the McLaren 720S with my best buddy Chris Buncombe. It’s great to come back and race on UK soil again and a big thank you to our partners that have made this possible.”
Buncombe, a Le Mans 24 Hours LMP2 class winner in 2007, told Motorsport.com that the race “was [Button’s] idea first and foremost” and the culmination of years of discussion about contesting an endurance race together.
“This was the first opportunity of getting on-track and sharing a car together,” explained Buncombe, who has previously contested off-road races with Button in the US. “He doesn’t have any more grand prix commitments for TV this year, so it fitted on a weekend where he wasn’t committed, it worked out well.”
The pair will test at Silverstone later this month and Buncombe said both would be taking the outing seriously, but stressed a full season in British GT next year is not on the cards.
“We’re purely seeing it as a one-off appearance,” he said. “We’re both coming at it fairly green but with the same aspect in as far as if we want to do anything, we do the best job we can.”
Buncombe added that the team plans to return to Europe next season, having switched its planned GT World Challenge Europe entry for a British GT campaign when the pandemic hit, with an appearance in the Spa 24 Hours “still on the radar as one we’d like to do”.
“Being back at Spa next year as a team is absolutely our plan,” he said. “If that worked with Jenson’s schedule, I know he definitely has appetite to do the race, I have appetite to go back there and I love that race, so yes if it worked out that is possible.
“It will also depend on what racing commitments he has next year so we’ll wait and see.”
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