Jenson Button's team withdraws McLaren entry from DTM

Jenson Team Rocket RJN has backed out of its planned DTM entry and will instead focus its efforts on GT World Challenge Europe and British GT in 2021.

Jenson Button's team withdraws McLaren entry from DTM

The British team, part-owned by 2009 Formula 1 champion Jenson Button, announced back in December that it would field a McLaren 720S in the revamped DTM series this year, taking advantage of its switch to GT3 machinery.

This was supposed to mark the next stage in the expansion of the outfit after it spent the 2020 season competing in British GT - where Button himself made a guest appearance in the season finale at Silverstone. 

But speaking to Motorsport.com, part owner Chris Buncombe revealed that it has decided to withdraw its entry from the DTM, but hopes that it would be able to eventually join the championship in 2022.

“Just a change of plans for this year,” Buncombe explained. “We like the look of the championship and maybe put something together for next year. 

“Obviously it looks like it‘s building momentum, the championship, it’s interesting for us. We’ve not written it off completely but our focus remains in GT World Challenge. 

“We certainly hope [DTM is] something we can be a part of in the future. We are growing as a team. Hopefully we’ll be on the grid in 2022.”

Motorsport.com understands that Jenson Team Rocket RJN couldn’t put together the budget for a DTM programme amid the pandemic, with the cost of running a single car in the series estimated to be around one million euros despite the switch away from expensive Class One machinery.

The Oxford-based outfit was also planning to build a second base in Germany to assist with the running of the team, which would have been an expensive undertaking in the current climate.

“For a British team like ours, the logistics is also challenging at the moment,” Buncombe said. “And the mix of COVID and Brexit, because we are looking at having a European base. Running in that series from the UK wouldn’t have made sense.

“We were looking at options to be on the continent because sending people and equipment back and forth across the [English] Channel sadly isn’t as easy as it was. 

“I wish we were still part of the EU. That’s another challenge. To be honest there are many factors that just made it not possible to complete our intentions as they were a few months ago.”

Buncombe added that it was easier for the team to compete in GTWCE due to a combination of lower operating costs and past experience in the category when it was branded as Blancpain GT Series.

Following the team's withdrawal, it appears that only one McLaren would be present on the 2021 DTM grid, courtesy of JP Motorsport's three-race programme featuring Christian Klien. 2 Seas Motorsport, which originally announced a two-car McLaren entry, has since sold its 720S GT3 cars in favour of Mercedes-AMG GT3s.

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