WRT Confirms FIA GT1 World Driver Squad
For the re-structured FIA GT1 World Championship that starts into the new season on April 8 two new Audi R8 LMS ultra cars have been nominated as well. The private WRT team will be contesting the world championship with an international driver line-up. The former DTM racer Frank Stippler (D) and Audi factory driver Oliver Jarvis (GB) are part of the squad as well as the former Le Mans winner Stéphane Ortelli (MC). The Belgian junior Laurens Vanthoor completes the squad.
A challenging series for customer teams, a new car, an ambitious driver line-up and an up-and-coming private team: the Audi R8 LMS ultra will be battling for a world championship title for the first time this year. In the 2012 season the FIA GT1 World Championship of the World Automobile Association FIA is exclusively held for GT3 vehicles, opening up a new high-caliber stage for private companies such as the WRT team from Belgium. The calendar encompasses ten races, spread to nine countries in Asia, Europe and South America. “Both in terms of the sport and logistics this is the biggest challenge our ‘young’ team has tackled so far,” says WRT Team Director Vincent Vosse.
His company relies on the new Audi R8 LMS ultra, the latest generation of the customer sport race car from quattro GmbH. The successor of the successful Audi R8 LMS that has achieved 119 victories so far features numerous updates in the areas of aerodynamics, suspension and power-train. It will be meeting with fierce competition by well-known sports cars from Germany, Great Britain and Italy.
The ‘young’ albeit successful Belgian private team WRT is putting its trust in the Audi R8 LMS ultra. At a single factory run for Audi in 2011, Team Director Vincent Vosse clinched the first 24-hour victory of the R8 LMS at Spa-Francorchamps. The private team won the Blancpain Endurance Series last year as well with driver Greg Franchi. Right in time for the new season WRT moved into more modern team facilities in Frameries in southern Belgium.
Six weeks before the start of the season Vincent Vosse has now selected his drivers. Oliver Jarvis is known from four years in the DTM. At the Le Mans 24 Hours the Briton in the Audi R10 TDI was the best rookie two years ago. In addition, he has gathered experience in endurance racing in the Audi R8 LMS at the Nürburgring. This year, Jarvis is part of Audi’s sports car factory team for the first time. Stéphane Ortelli is a familiar face to Audi as well as to Team WRT. The 1998 Le Mans winner was part of Audi’s first sports car line-up a year later, enjoys an excellent reputation in endurance racing with numerous victories and champion’s titles under his belt, has been regularly driving the Audi R8 LMS since 2009 and has been with WRT since 2010. Frank Stippler has been a development driver for quattro GmbH since 2004. From 2009 on, the German has been making a valuable contribution to the success story of the Audi R8 LMS. 20-year-old Laurens Vanthoor from Belgium was a Volkswagen factory driver from 2009 to 2011 and won the Formula 3 Cup in Germany in 2009.
“This squad allows us to put an attractive and promising mix of drivers on the grid,” says a pleased Team Director Vincent Vosse. “International successes through to winning Le Mans, strong technical expertise, many years of professional racing experience, four drivers from four nations – these are optimum prerequisites for a harmonious team that works together well,” he affirms with confidence. Whereas the drivers have been selected now, WRT will decide the composition of the pairings for each of the two cockpits at a later date. At the initial team meeting in Belgium from Wednesday (February 29) to Friday (March 2) the drivers will be building their team spirit. Following track tests starting at the end of March, a long and challenging season will begin that will only end in India on December 2, 2012.