It seems dreams do come true. James Baldwin, a 23-year-old Brit who recently won the biggest eSports prize ever, has graduated into the big leagues. With a remarkable team and a car far faster than anything the youngster has experienced, he’s under massive pressure. Still, he has the presence of mind and talent that should carry him very far in this year’s GT World Challenge Endurance Championship.
An Uncommon Launching Pad
At the end of last year’s World’s Fastest Gamer competition, Baldwin left with $1,000,000 and the admiration of world-renowned drivers such as Juan Pablo Montoya, Rubens Barrichello, and Jann Mardenborough. Speed alone wasn’t what won him the prize; he kept his focus through a grueling two-week finale while demonstrating a willingness to learn, stellar car control, and a great attitude. After that, the doors opened. With several well-connected professionals to recommend him, he quickly found himself in with a top team: Jenson Team Rocket RJN.
A Steep Learning Curve
That assortment of traits should make the rapid advancement from EXR racing cars to a McLaren 720S GT3 possible. Yes, the learning curve is steep, but Baldwin is wise beyond his years. He knows how much to apply himself — and how to retain his composure. “When I got the news that I would be racing GT3, I was really excited. It’s very cool. But, at the same time, I don’t want it to overwhelm me. It’s an opportunity I want to make the most of,” Baldwin said.
With the guidance of teammate Chris Buncombe, Baldwin should adjust quickly to life within Jenson Team Rocket RJN. Incredible for someone stepping into such a serious arena, Baldwin has the unwavering support of the team. Team Principal Bob Neville saw Baldwin perform during his training and development program and was immediately impressed.
Baldwin has his work cut out for him — adjusting to downforce, the complexities of a GT3 car, and the demands of day-long races. Though enthusiasm oozes out of the youngster by the bucketful, it’s clear he’ll temper that energy with the clinical professionalism of a more experienced racer.
“My expectations for 2020 are: get used to it as quickly as possible, be clean, be fast, and if it’s possible, to win the Pro-Am championship — I think that has to be the goal,” Baldwin described. There’s a good chance it will happen. If it does, it’ll serve as inspiration for all the young hopefuls to buy that Logitech wheel and a copy of Assetto Corsa. It’s inspiring to see that, sometimes, talent can transcend financial limitations.