Baldwin will debut for Jenson Team Rocket RJN at the 2020 GT World Challenge Europe endurance series pre-season test at Circuit Paul Ricard in France. The 22-year-old Brit will be driving alongside 2007 Le Mans LMP2 winner Chris Buncombe in the pro-am category for the five endurance races held throughout 2020.
The calendar features iconic tracks like Silverstone and the Nurburgring as well as the legendary endurance classic, Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps 24 hour.
“James already faced a huge test in defeating nine other world-class gamers last year to get this opportunity and we’re looking forward to seeing him make the transition from virtual to reality,” World’s Fastest Gamer founder and Torque Esports President and CEO, Darren Cox said.
“We put all the gamers through an intensive series of tests last year – both virtually and on track and James was the stand-out performer. We can’t wait to see him on track for the first time this week in GT World Challenge Europe competition.”
Baldwin’s race debut will be on home soil at Silverstone May 9-10.
- Gamer to make debut in GT World Challenge Europe endurance round at Silverstone
- James Baldwin given GT3 McLaren 720S GT3 chance after winning World’s Fastest Gamer 2 competition
- $1M prize includes iconic Spa 24-hour race amongst other premier endurance events
James Baldwin Q&A
Q: How did you get to obtain the required license to race at this level?
A: “I had to get an International C racing license and you have to race in twelve different races at a national level. Thankfully, I already had four from when I did Formula Ford about four years ago, so in my case I only needed to get eight more. I did a couple races in a Citroen C1 at Brands Hatch, I did a couple races in a GT4 Nissan run by Jenson Team Rocket RJN, the team I’m with now, at Brands Hatch as well and then Anglesey. Those two were back to back, so that was quite strenuous because we drove from Brands Hatch straight to Anglesey in one go. But, It was really good fun. I know they’re just signature races, but it’s more than I’m used to! Driving a GT4 was still mad, very quick.
“In the Citroen C1, me and Miguel [Faisca], my driver coach, a former GT Academy winner, teamed up and did pretty well. We came fifth out of around 48 cars. And then in the GT4 we won the second race of the afternoon! And that was very cool, a really good achievement.”
Q: How important is it to graduate to the GT World Challenge Europe series with the same team?
A: “I’m still learning obviously, while they’ve been doing this for many many years. They’re a good team to go with because they’re so experienced. They know how to work with gamers because they took the guys from GT Academy and nursed them through their development and worked with them in many races.
“I get along with all of them very well, they’re very nice people, and I hope they think the same thing about me! They keep saying that if I do what I did at Brands last year, that I’ll be fine. Obviously it’s a bigger scale, but they’re happy with what I’m doing.”
Q: What will be the biggest change when stepping into the McLaren GT3 car?
A: “In terms of the straight line speed – that is going to be a big difference, but I reckon after a couple of laps I’ll be used to it. The way it handles, having downforce with all the wings, I’ve never had a car like that before and I won’t be totally used to how that feels.
“Hopefully, I come to grips with it fairly quickly just because of sim racing. It does give you a good sense of how these things will feel in a real car. The brakes will probably be the most strenuous thing, it’s the most physical thing to do in the car. I did sit in the car at the workshop last week and they had a brake sensor on it that shows you what 100% is and I could barely reach it and I was properly stamping on the pedal.”
“I’ve noted the concern to Simon [Fitchett, trainer] that maybe my legs are going to struggle to start with, but luckily we have a bit of time before the first race to get that sorted in the gym.”
Q: What have you been doing for training to prepare for the season ahead?
A: “Simon said to me that I’m not in a position where a lot of gamers have been in the past where I have to lose a lot of weight or completely change my diet. Luckily, I’ve put myself in a position that was half decent already, but not quite enough to be a full-time GT3 driver.
“I’ve got to add muscle in certain areas, I’ve got to up the cardio to help deal with these long stints in the endurance series, especially when we’re talking about a race like the Spa 24. I wasn’t in a bad position at the end of last year, but thanks to Simon I’m certainly in much fitter now, and we’re still working on getting even better.”
Q: Are you ready for your first real-world 24 hour race?
A: “Not yet! If I jumped in now, it probably wouldn’t go so well. But, that’s the beauty of testing and building up to it with a few shorter races.
“The nature of the program is to jump into the deep end, so I’m ready for that element. I have done 24 hour races in the past, but they were karting ones, so you can’t really compare them. You still have to be awake for a long time, get in the car, race while you’re tired, so I should be okay on that front. But, I think that we can prep all we want and then we’ll do the best we can. Naturally, I hope it will go well. We’ve got a few months before then, but I’m really looking forward to it.”
Q: Going back to the WFG2 experience, how did the non-stop action and surprises over the 12-day event prepare you for this challenge?
A: “It certainly prepared me in that way. I think that the surprises were a big part of the competition. I still have to plan and adapt for so many situations, on track or off, that’s what World’s Fastest Gamer did.
“It threw all these different scenarios at you and whoever could adapt the fastest, is who wins. Rudy van Buren called it a pressure cooker, where it really had the potential to crack everyone, and it pretty much did. But, it was a good competition and definitely made me more ready for this.”
Q: What are your goals for this year?
A: “Obviously I want to do my best and maximize my potential and learn as much as possible. But, I really want to win the pro-am championship with Jenson Team Rocket RJN. That’s the main goal. The second one is to do well enough and impress everyone enough to really ensure that I stick around in this sport for several seasons to come.”