- Blancpain GT Series program expanded, with 5 cars in Sprint and 4 in Endurance, in partnership with the Belgian Audi Club
- WRT embraces TCR concept, both at the level of Benelux and International (with Leopard Racing)
- GT Sports, Trophée Andros, VW Fun Cup, WRT Kart Academy, other key racing projects
- Company starts diversifying with the acquisition of AMP
- Kathleen Schurmans appointed as Joint CEO
It is going to be a busy and exciting year for Team WRT! The Belgian squad has presented its 2016 program of activities this evening, during a crowded press conference at its headquarters in Baudour.
The 2016 projects and key news have been outlined during the event and are summarized as follows.
Once again, the Belgian squad will be present among the world’s elite of GT racing in the Blancpain GT Series, defending the four titles conquered in 2015 (the Teams’ and Drivers’ Blancpain overall crowns, and the Teams’ titles in both the Sprint and Endurance series). The team has been very successful also during the winter, taking 2nd at the FIA GT World Cup in Macau, posting a 1-2 win at the Sepang 12 Hours and winning the Dubai 24 Hours.
In the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup, five Audi R8 LMS will be entered with the following line-ups:
Laurens Vanthoor (B) – Frédéric Vervisch (B)
Michael Meadows (GB) – Stuart Leonard (GB)
Sérgio Jimenez (BR) – Rodrigo Baptista (BR)
Dries Vanthoor (B) – Robin Frijns (NL)
Enzo Ide (B) – Christopher Mies (D)
In the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup, there will be four cars entered, with the following line-ups:
Laurens Vanthoor (B) – Dries Vanthoor (B) – Frédéric Vervisch (B)
Michael Meadows (GB) – Stuart Leonard (GB) – Robin Frijns (NL)
Rodrigo Baptista (BR) – Sérgio Jimenez (BR) - Filipe Albuquerque (P)
Adrien de Leener (B) – Peter Kox (NL) – Pierre Kaffer (D)
At the Total 24 Hours of Spa, an additional car, under the colors of Audi Sport, will be entrusted to René Rast (D), Nico Müller (CH) and Laurens Vanthoor (B).
After conquering a first win in the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring last year, Team WRT will be back at the Green Hell with two cars, one for Laurens Vanthoor (B) – Christopher Mies (D) – Nico Müller (CH) – Pierre Kaffer (D) under the Audi Sport banner and one for Stuart Leonard (GB) – Edward Sandström (S) – Frédéric Vervisch (B) – Robin Frijns (NL).
TCR International Series
Team WRT will make its debut in the new global series for TCR touring cars successfully launched in 2015 as technical partner of Leopard Racing, which will enter two Volkswagen Golf TCR for the reigning champion, Stefano Comini (CH), and for Jean-Karl Vernay (F).
This is a significant major development in WRT’s racing activity, as the team engages in a category never contested before, touring car racing, which is, since ever, one of the pillars of motorsports. Team WRT strongly believes in the new TCR concept and is happy to be involved in the TCR International Series with Leopard Racing, deepening a partnership that started in GT racing.
TCR Benelux Series
Team WRT will also be present in the TCR Benelux Series kicking off this season among great prospects, taking care of the SEAT León TCR entered by the RACB National Team (RNT) with the support of SEAT Belgium, entrusted to Sam Dejonghe and Denis Dupont, winners of the RACB special competition to select new Belgian young talents, and the VW Golf of Ronnie Latinne (B) – Maxime Potty (F). Ronnie is back in the team after successful 2010-11 seasons in the former Belgian Touring Car Championship and Maxime, a member of the WRT Karting Academy, makes the step from karting to roofed car racing.
GT Sports Club
For the second year of the SRO-promoted GT championship for gentlemen drivers, Team WRT will be participate with two Audi R8 LMS ultra. Jean-Michel Baert (B) and Louis-Philippe Soenen (B) will be the drivers of these two cars.
The 2016 edition of the Trophée Andros recently came to an end and saw Team WRT conquering the Teams’ title with the Audi A1 Quattro, which on top was awarded the very fashionable title of “most beautiful car” in the series.
VW Fun Cup
The VW Fun Cup celebrates its 20th anniversary and the concept is as fresh and successful as ever! René Verbist was associated to it since the very beginning and WRT is proud to be involved with the introduction three years ago of the third generation of these very special racing cars. More than 140 VW Fun Cups of the third generation have been produced since the development by WRT of the last model.
WRT Kart Academy
This successful initiative, characterized also by an excellent atmosphere among the young participants, goes ahead, with four drivers being supported this year. Ugo De Wilde and Charles Weerts, in their second year with the Academy, are joined by Xavier Handsaeme and Antoine Potty, the two new drivers selected for 2016. They replace Gilles Magnus and Maxime Potty, who are climbing a further step in their careers by debuting in single-seater and touring car racing, respectively.
WRT has started diversifying its activities from pure racing last year, when it acquired the well-known Belgian roll-cage chassis building specialist. The chassis of the Audi A1 (more news will be announced at a later stage) and the chassis of the new VW Fun Cup are some of the latest products resulting from the expansion of AMP’s activities. In the meantime, AMP also continues to develop its historic activities: roll cages (for modern and classic cars, such as the Audi Quattro Gr.4 entered in the Legend Boucles of Bastogne) and suspension assembly and construction.
New Joint CEO
To better lead the growth of WRT’s activities and organization, as well as the expansion and diversification of the company, a Joint CEO has been appointed. Kathleen Schurmans has a solid management background, acquired at international level in sectors not related with motorsports. While Vincent will continue to lead the racing and technical aspects, Kathleen will oversee key areas such as company governance, finance and human resources.
Vincent Vosse, Joint CEO and Team Principal: “With no doubt, it is going to be the busiest year for WRT so far! We have many exciting challenges ahead of us and we embrace them with our usual winning spirit. The 2016 season marks also a significant reorganization of our company, aimed precisely at better leading our growth and diversification. Each program will now have a dedicated staff and a leader, and at the top of the company we will have a duopoly, and I see the appointment as Joint CEO of a true manager as Kathleen as a big step forward. I won’t comment on each of the racing programs, they are all important to us, except to say that will of course aim at keeping the very successful form we have had in GT racing this year too and that we are thrilled to join TCR racing, a new concept in which we believe very strongly. Time to go back to work now!”
Kathleen Schurmans, Joint CEO: “Joining WRT is both a great pleasure and a great challenge. I have no previous experience in motor racing and I am starting to discover a very interesting and sophisticated world. I am impressed with the degree of professionalism and commitment there is within WRT, and I will contribute my competence in designing and implementing strategies for companies and the experience I have acquired in other sectors, such as engineering and IT services. My role, alongside Vincent, will be to provide WRT with the tools to continue its growth and fulfill further ambitions. ”