- World’s Fastest Gamer 2 winner James Baldwin ready for next rounds of the British GT Championship
- Baldwin, Michael O’Brien and for Jenson Team Rocket RJN currently lead the championship
- World’s Fastest Gamer 1 winner Rudy van Buren also in the winner’s circle
CASTLE DONINGTON, DERBY, UK (Wednesday, August 12, 2020) – World’s Fastest Gamer 2 winner James Baldwin impressed by taking victory on his British GT debut at Oulton Park and now the gamer-to-racer is looking to continue that momentum when the series rolls into Donington Park for the second weekend of the championship.
Baldwin and co-driver Michael O’Brien currently lead the points in the series for the Jenson Team Rocket RJN squad following their win and sixth place finishes in the first two races of the year. They’re hoping to extend that lead in their McLaren 720S GT3 with a good result at the Donington doubleheader.
Last year, Baldwin bested nine other gamers to earn a real-world race drive worth more than US$1 million. Selected as the winner by the impressive roster of World’s Fastest Gamer judges Jann Mardenborough (former GT Academy winner and Nissan Super GT racer), Rudy van Buren (inaugural World’s Fastest Gamer winner), Juan Pablo Montoya (F1, IndyCar, NASCAR and sportscar race winner) and Ferrari F1 legend Rubens Barrichello, Baldwin now drives for another racing hero – Jenson Button, who co-owns Jenson Team Rocket RJN.
While the World’s Fastest Gamer tour took Baldwin to some of the most impressive racing facilities in Las Vegas and California, this weekend, the 22-year-old Brit will battle on the 2.498-mile, 12-turn Donington Park circuit – a track somewhat familiar to him as he competed there in one of his two Formula Ford weekends in 2015 before he initially was forced into “retirement” due to a lack of budget.
“James winning on debut was incredibly exciting for all of the team working on the World’s Fastest Gamer concept,” Engine Media co-CEO Darren Cox said.
“We knew he had immense talent, that was obvious from the first time we got him in a car in Las Vegas during World’s Fastest Gamer. We had very high expectations for what he could accomplish this year in the Jenson Team Rocket RJN McLaren, but to go out and win right away I think exceeded all of our wildest dreams for him.
“It’s also really great that both he and Rudy van Buren can be out on track proving our gamer to racer philosophy. Rudy has been a brilliant representative for sim racers all around the world as he makes the transition to a real racing driver. Hopefully James can continue our winning streak for the gamers this weekend at Donington!”
Race fans can watch all the action live on Engine Media’s motorsports news site The-Race.com’s YouTube channel. The Intelligent Money British GT Championship has joined the channel’s impressive schedule that already features the latest Formula 1 news plus live-streamed action from Japan’s Super GT Championship, the Nurburgring Endurance Series and more.
James Baldwin Q&A
Q: You already have your first British GT win, have your expectations changed?
A: “Oulton surprised me, but I thought if we started slowly and built up to it week by week, by the end we could be fighting for the title and we already are now after one weekend!
“But, I’m trying to keep my head in the present. Not look too far back, not look too far ahead, and just focus on doing the best job I can in each race weekend.”
Q: What’s the biggest thing you learned during your first race weekend?
A: “How to understand and develop the car setup. I’m not a genius at it yet, but I learned quite a lot in that department mainly because of two people Michael (co-driver) and our engineers Connor Hardiman and Nigel Dickson.
“I would get a feeling in the car and come back and ask what it was and they would tell me what it was all about and what I could do to solve it. Michael very much carried us last race weekend in terms of developing the car itself and making it quicker, but I feel like now I would have a better understanding of how I can contribute.”
Q: How is the feeling from the car and working with the setup different from the sim to real world?
A: “The biggest thing with the sim is that because it’s not real, you have unlimited laps and can just guess and try again and try again until you get it right.
“Whereas in the car, you may get 10 to 20 laps before qualifying. So you really have to make sure you’re feeling every little thing that needs to be changed in more detail, and also react faster and make changes faster.
“You can’t just go ‘I’ll try that again and see how it feels and then make a decision,’ you’ve got to react and make a decision there and then because you don’t have much time.
“That goes for everything in real motorsports, you’re limited in terms of money. It really shows you which drivers can and can’t adapt as quickly. It did take me by surprise how fast it goes by.
“But, I really, really enjoyed it. It’s been very exciting. And for Donington, we don’t have any testing at all, just the two practice sessions before qualifying. It’s going to be even more intense, but I’m looking forward to it.”
Q: What experience do you have at Donington Park? And what are your thoughts on the track?
A: “I did a race there in Formula Ford before I got into sim racing. So I’ve been there once, it was a long time ago—about six years ago—but it’s not a totally new track to me. I know it’s a bit more open than Oulton Park, so it’s a bit less risky. And, I hear it’s a McLaren track. So, we should be even quicker there in the McLaren 720S GT3 than we were at Oulton.
“So, that really bodes well! I don’t want to pump myself up too much, and the team has been quite clear that we’re going into this weekend with the same approach as Oulton.
“Obviously the expectations are going to be a bit different since we won the first race, and I don’t think we can avoid that. But while we want to win, and have a real shot at winning, we’re not actively expecting to win.
“Additionally, the weather will be interesting. It’s been very hot in the UK, but it’s supposed to cool down and even potentially rain this weekend, so that will be interesting. I’m both excited and a little apprehensive about that. It does put everyone as a more level playing field because I doubt many of the other guys have done wet running. I don’t really mind the rain!”
Q: What preparations have you been focusing on in the interim?
A: “We had a debrief at the team at the workshop, myself, Michael and the team, on Tuesday after the race and I learned a lot of things there. I’ve also been going through a lot of the video footage.
“I’m not sure looking through these things like they’re DaVinci’s code is really the answer when I already know what I need to improve on this coming weekend. I’ve focused on those things, and some of it is really simple like nutrition on the race weekend.
“There’s a lot of stuff around the edges that I need to work on that will help us run smoothly all weekend. And then, I’ve spent the weekend getting relaxed and resting and just making sure I’m refreshed and reset for Donington this week.”