W Racing Team (WRT) is a Belgian auto racing team founded in 2009 by engineer and former head of Volkswagen Motorsport René Verbist, racing driver Vincent Vosse, and entrepreneur Yves Weerts. Since 2010 the team campaigns Audi R8 LMSs in several international sports car series. In 2010 the team won the Belcar Drivers' and Teams' Championships, while in 2011 they won the Spa 24 Hours.[2] After winning multiple titles in various GT championships, WRT is considered to be one of the best teams worldwide in GT racing. In 2019 WRT added the highly competitive DTM championship to their program running two Audi RS5 Turbo DTMs. In 2021 WRT added a full time LMP2 program, by entering an Oreca 07 in both the FIA World Endurance Championship and European Le Mans Series, and won the LMP2 class of the 2021 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Racing history

2010-2011: Beginning and early success

Audi R8 LMS during Blancpain Endurance Series season

Upon the team's founding in late 2009, WRT purchased three Audi R8 LMS race cars as part of being the official Belgian Audi motorsport importer. The trio of cars shared duties in 2010 between the national Belcar Endurance Championship, the French FFSA GT Championship (now GT Tour), and the mid-season Spa 24 Hours. The team had success from the start, finishing on the podium with at least one car in every Belcar race including two wins by Gregory Franchi and Anthony Kumpen and a third victory in a ten-hour endurance race at Circuit Zolder with François Verbist, Bert Longin, and Bill Bailly. Franchi and Kumpen locked up the Drivers' Championship, while WRT secured the Teams' Championship. Franchi also partnered with Stéphane Lémeret to earn two further podium finishes in FFSA GT. In addition to this program, two Volkswagen Scirocco GT24s were purchased for use in the Belgian Touring Car Series where the team were vice-champions in their category.

Following their first year's success, WRT expanded their program for 2011 by adding the FIA GT3 European Championship[3] and Blancpain Endurance Series to the schedule for their Audis. Once again success came early as WRT won the second of two races in the first event of the FIA GT3 Championship with Franchi partnering Enzo Ide. Their GT Tour program under the title of Team Audi France with French drivers David Hallyday and Stéphane Ortelli also earned its first victory for the team at Dijon-Prenois. In July WRT won the Spa 24 Hours in only their second attempt, with Franchi sharing the drive with factory Audi drivers Timo Scheider and Mattias Ekström.[2]

2012-2018: Further expansion with Audi

An Audi R8 LMS from W Racing Team

WRT announced further expansion of their program in 2012 with accepted entries in the FIA GT World Championship as the representatives of Audi.[4] They went on to finish third in the Teams standings, winning three races on the way. In 2013 WRT won both the Teams' and Drivers' Championship of the newly named FIA GT Series.

In 2014 WRT competed both in the Blancpain Endurance Series and Blancpain Sprint Series, successor of the FIA GT Series. They won both the Teams' and Drivers' Championship in the Blancpain GT Series as well as in the Blancpain Endurance Series. They also won the Teams' Championship in the Blancpain Sprint Series. In July 2014 they added a second win in the Spa 24 Hours with Laurens Vanthoor, René Rast and Markus Winkelhock at the wheel of an Audi R8 LMS. In 2015 they again won both Teams' and Drivers' championships in the Blancpain GT Series. They were also crowned Teams' Champions in the Sprint and Endurance Series. In May 2015 WRT achieved another major success by winning the 24 Hours of Nürburgring with the new version of the Audi R8 LMS (GT3).

In 2016, WRT made their debut in Touring car racing, running pair of Volkswagen Golfs in the TCR International Series under the Leopard Racing badge. Driving for the team were Stefano Comini and Jean-Karl Vernay. WRT also made their debut in the European Le Mans Series running a Ligier JS P2, but only at the 4 Hours of Spa. They won the TCR International Series Drivers' titles in both 2016 and 2017, with Comini and Vernay respectively. In 2018 and 2019 WRT participated in the World Touring Car Cup fielding a pair of Audi RS3 LMSs.

2019-2020: Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters

Audi RS5 DTM Turbo at Hockenheim, driven by Jonathan Aberdein

In 2018 WRT won the Bathurst 12 hour race with the Audi R8 LMS (GT3), at their first attempt. On 12 October 2018 WRT announced it would run a pair of Audi RS5 Turbo DTMs in the 2019 DTM season as a customer team.[5] They later announced Jonathan Aberdein and Pietro Fittipaldi, grandson of double Formula One World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi, as their two drivers for the season. Although not scoring a single podium, Aberdein was able to impress with several points scoring positions and finished the season in 10th place as the highest ranked rookie. In August 2019 WRT won the 2019 Suzuka 10 Hours, which was the 48th edition of the Summer Endurance Classic at Suzuka.

At the end of 2019, WRT announced an all new line-up for the 2020 DTM season consisting of 2016 Indy Lights champion Ed Jones and FIA Formula 3 driver Fabio Scherer. Later WRT announced they would enter a third car for Ferdinand Habsburg, who had previously been driving for Aston Martin. Before the season started Jones pulled out of the championship due to travel complications as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. He was subsequently replaced by Harrison Newey, who made his debut in the DTM. Habsburg managed to score his and the teams first podium finish as well as a pole position. As a result of Audi's exit at the end of the season it was decided that the Class One formula would be dropped and replaced by GT3 machinery. WRT ultimately decided not to enter the DTM in 2021.

2021-Present: LMP2 Program

The #32 Oreca 07 entered by Team WRT at the 2022 24 Hours of Le Mans

After exiting the DTM, WRT announced their intention to enter the LMP2 class in the FIA WEC to prepare for an eventual program in the new LMDh formula. On January 21 the team officially announced it would enter the FIA WEC with an Oreca 07.[6] The drivers will be Robin Frijns, Ferdinand Habsburg and Charles Milesi. WRT later announced that they would also enter an Oreca 07 in the ELMS driven by Robert Kubica.[7] He will be joined by Louis Delétraz and Yifei Ye. The team once again was successful from the offset and won the first two races of the ELMS championship.

Team WRT decided to enter both cars at the 2021 24 Hours of Le Mans. After taking the lead during the first half of the race WRT was on course to score a sensational 1-2 finish on its Le Mans debut. However, at the start of the last lap car #41 driven by Yifei Ye came to a stop due to a technical fault and was unable to make the finish, giving the win to the sister car #31 who crossed the finish line just over 7 tenths in front of the chasing Oreca 07 from Tom Blomqvist.[8]

Adding to their Le Mans victory, Team WRT ended the 2021 season winning both the Drivers' and Teams' titles in the FIA WEC and ELMS. This means the team won all possible titles in their debut LMP2 season. Additionally WRT won five out of six possible titles in the GT World Challenge series with their GT operation, rounding off their most successful season to date. In 2022 WRT will expand to two full season entries in the FIA WEC. WRT also continues to run several Audi R8 LMS in the GT World Challenge Europe and will field a car for MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi in 2022. He will team up with Audi Sport factory drivers Frédéric Vervisch and Nico Müller.

2023-Present: Hypercar with BMW

While never officially announced WRT had been chosen by Audi to run their LMDh program in the 2023 FIA WEC Hypercar class. However, days before the first rollout of the car Audi decided to stop the program, officially stating it was putting it on hold.[9] As a result WRT started looking to other options to enter the Hypercar class in the WEC series. On 2 August 2022 WRT announced it would terminate their 13 years long partnership in GT racing with Audi Sport. Hours later BMW Motorsport announced that Team WRT would run their factory LMDh program in the FIA WEC. WRT will start extensive testing of the BMW M Hybrid V8 in 2023 before entering the 2024 FIA World Endurance Championship.[10]

Results & Achievements

Audi R8 LMS, winner of the 2015 24 Hours of Nürburgring
Podium at the 2021 4 Hours of Barcelona, where WRT took its first victory in the ELMS with drivers Robert Kubica, Louis Delétraz and Yifei Ye

Notable Victories

  • Overall Winner - 2011 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps
  • Overall Winner - 2011 24 Hours of Zolder
  • Overall Winner - 2012 24 Hours of Zolder
  • Overall Winner - 2013 Baku World Challenge
  • Overall Winner - 2014 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps
  • Overall Winner - 2014 Baku World Challenge
  • Overall Winner - 2015 24 Hours of Nürburgring
  • Overall Winner - 2015 12 Hours of Sepang
  • Overall Winner - 2016 24 Hours of Dubai
  • Overall Winner - 2016 FIA GT World Cup
  • Overall Winner - 2018 12 Hours of Bathurst
  • Overall Winner - 2019 10 Hours of Suzuka
  • LMP2 Winner - 2021 24 Hours of Le Mans
  • Overall Winner - 2022 24 Hours of Dubai

Main Championship titles

24 Hours of Le Mans

Year Entrant Class No Chassis Engine Drivers Laps Pos. Class
Pos.
2021 Belgium Team WRT LMP2 31 Oreca 07 Gibson GK428 4.2L V8 Netherlands Robin Frijns
Austria Ferdinand Habsburg
France Charles Milesi
363 6th 1st
LMP2 41 Oreca 07 Gibson GK428 4.2L V8 Switzerland Louis Delétraz
Poland Robert Kubica
China Yifei Ye
362 DNF DNF
2022 Belgium Team WRT LMP2 31 Oreca 07 Gibson GK428 4.2L V8 Netherlands Robin Frijns
Indonesia Sean Gelael
Germany Rene Rast
285 DNF DNF
LMP2 32 Oreca 07 Gibson GK428 4.2L V8 Italy Mirko Bortolotti
Switzerland Rolf Ineichen
Belgium Dries Vanthoor
366 15th 11th
Switzerland RealTeam by WRT LMP2 41 Oreca 07 Gibson GK428 4.2L V8 Angola Rui Andrade
Austria Ferdinand Habsburg
France Norman Nato
362 21st 17th

FIA World Endurance Championship

Year Entrant Class No Chassis Engine Drivers 1 2 3 4 5 6 Pos. Pts
2021 Belgium Team WRT LMP2 31 Oreca 07 Gibson GK428 4.2L V8 Netherlands Robin Frijns
Austria Ferdinand Habsburg
France Charles Milesi
SPA
12
POR
4
MNZ
2
LMS
1
BAH 1
1
BAH 2
1
1st 151
2022 Belgium Team WRT LMP2 31 Oreca 07 Gibson GK428 4.2L V8 Netherlands Robin Frijns
Indonesia Sean Gelael
Germany Rene Rast
Belgium Dries Vanthoor
SEB
2
SPA
1
LMS
Ret
MNZ
12
FUJ
1
BHR
4th* 78*
Switzerland RealTeam by WRT LMP2 41 Oreca 07 Gibson GK428 4.2L V8 Angola Rui Andrade
Austria Ferdinand Habsburg
France Norman Nato
SEB
3
SPA
2
LMS
17
MNZ
1
FUJ
4
BHR
3rd* 80*

* Season still in progress

European Le Mans Series

Year Entrant Class No Chassis Engine Drivers 1 2 3 4 5 6 Pos. Pts
2016 Belgium Team WRT LMP2 47 Ligier JS P2 Judd HK 3.6 L V8 United Kingdom Will Stevens
Belgium Dries Vanthoor
Belgium Laurens Vanthoor
SIL
IMO
RBR
LEC
SPA
2
EST
11th 18
2021 Belgium Team WRT LMP2 41 Oreca 07 Gibson GK428 4.2L V8 Switzerland Louis Delétraz
Poland Robert Kubica
China Yifei Ye
CAT
1
RBR
1
LEC
5
MNZ
4
SPA
1
ALG
2
1st 118

Bathurst 12 Hours results

Year Team Drivers Car Car# Class Laps Pos. Class
Pos.
2018 Belgium Audi Sport Team WRT Netherlands Robin Frijns
United Kingdom Stuart Leonard
Belgium Dries Vanthoor
Audi R8 LMS GT3 37 GT3 - APP 271 1st 1st
Portugal Pedro Lamy
Austria Mathias Lauda
Canada Paul Dalla Lana
Australia Will Davison
39 GT3 - APA 267 14th 8th

Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters

Year Car No Driver 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 DC Points TC Points
2019 Audi RS5 Turbo DTM 27 South Africa Jonathan Aberdein HOC1
1

15
HOC1
2

12
ZOL
1

Ret
ZOL
2

12
MIS
1

8
MIS
2

7
NOR
1

13
NOR
2

14
ASS
1

6
ASS
2

4
BRH
1

9
BRH
2

13
LAU
1

14
LAU
2

7
NÜR
1

4
NÜR
2

5
HOC2
1

14
HOC2
2

Ret
10th 67 7th 79
21 Brazil Pietro Fittipaldi HOC1
1

10
HOC1
2

15
ZOL
1

14
ZOL
2

9
MIS
1

11
MIS
2

5
NOR
1

Ret
NOR
2

15
ASS
1

11
ASS
2

10
BRH
1

DNS
BRH
2

16
LAU
1

7
LAU
2

9
NÜR
1

15
NÜR
2

13
HOC2
1

15
HOC2
2

15
15th 22
34 Italy Andrea Dovizioso HOC1
1

HOC1
2

ZOL
1

ZOL
2

MIS
1

12
MIS
2

15
NOR
1

NOR
2

ASS
1

ASS
2

BRH
1

BRH
2

LAU
1

LAU
2

NÜR
1

NÜR
2

HOC2
1

HOC2
2

NC 0
2020 Audi RS5 Turbo DTM 10 United Kingdom Harrison Newey SPA
1

13
SPA
2

Ret
LAU1
1

10
LAU1
2

12
LAU2
1

15
LAU2
2

13
ASS
1

12
ASS
2

15
NÜR1
1

14
NÜR1
2

13
NÜR2
1

11
NÜR2
2

11
ZOL1
1

5
ZOL1
1

6
ZOL2
1

7
ZOL2
1

9
HOC
1

Ret
HOC
2

13
14th 27 7th 103
13 Switzerland Fabio Scherer SPA
1

12
SPA
2

12
LAU1
1

14
LAU1
2

11
LAU2
1

11
LAU2
2

13
ASS
1

15
ASS
2

Ret
NÜR1
1

15
NÜR1
2

16†
NÜR2
1

Ret
NÜR2
2

14
ZOL1
1

13
ZOL1
1

5
ZOL2
1

5
ZOL2
1

Ret
HOC
1

13†
HOC
2

12
16th 20
62 Austria Ferdinand Habsburg SPA
1

DNS
SPA
2

15
LAU1
1

6
LAU1
2

10
LAU2
1

11
LAU2
2

14
ASS
1

8
ASS
2

7
NÜR1
1

11
NÜR1
2

15
NÜR2
1

7
NÜR2
2

62
ZOL1
1

7
ZOL1
1

7
ZOL2
1

32
ZOL2
1

101
HOC
1

11
HOC
2

14
10th 68

References

  1. ^ "Comptes Annuels en Euros W Racing Team" (PDF). Staatsblad Monitor. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Dominant First Win For Audi at Spa". Blancpain Endurance Series. SRO Group. 2011-07-31. Retrieved 2011-08-03.
  3. ^ "17/03/2011 WRT Step Up to FIA GT3 European Championship in 2011". FIA GT3 European Championship. SRO Group. 2011-03-17. Retrieved 2011-08-03.
  4. ^ "Revamped 2012 season plans take shape". FIA GT1 World Championship. SRO Group. 2011-07-30. Retrieved 2011-08-03.
  5. ^ "WRT becomes Audi customer team in the DTM". DTM.com. 12 October 2018. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  6. ^ "A NEW EXCITING CHALLENGE FOR TEAM WRT, AS IT ENTERS THE FIA WEC AND THE LE MANS 24H IN LMP2". w-racingteam.com. 21 January 2021. Retrieved 1 March 2021.
  7. ^ "ROBERT KUBICA TO JOIN TEAM WRT IN ELMS PROGRAMME". w-racingteam.com. 12 February 2021. Retrieved 1 March 2021.
  8. ^ "Broken Throttle Sensor Denies No. 41 WRT Oreca LMP2 Victory". FIA WEC. 2021-08-23. Retrieved 2021-09-09.
  9. ^ "Audi LMDh Program Paused Amid Uncertain Future". sportscar365.com. 9 March 2022. Retrieved 3 August 2022.
  10. ^ "Top-quality reinforcements for BMW M Motorsport: Team WRT competing with the BMW M Hybrid V8 in the WEC from 2024". bmw-motorsport.com. 2 August 2022. Retrieved 3 August 2022.

External links