Dutch royal family member Prince Bernhard van Oranje is the first wildcard entry to be revealed for the FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) event at Circuit Park Zandvoort in May.
The 48-year-old prince, who also owns the Zandvoort circuit, is an experienced racer and be at the wheel of an Audi RS3 LMS run by Bas Koeten Racing.
“It is unique to participate in a World Cup event against eight former world champions,” said Prince Bernhard van Oranje. “It’s ultra-close racing and we have live coverage on TV and web throughout the event. With more than 100,000 fans it’s going to be a unique experience.”
Team Principal Bas Koeten is realistic about the prince’s chances, despite his knowledge of the circuit which he owns.
“It’s a special opportunity for our team as he’s not only the Prince of Holland but he’s also the owner of Circuit Zandvoort,” said Koeten. “He has experience in many racing classes and obviously knows the circuit very well.
“We don’t expect to go for the podium because we know how high the level of the WTCR is with the fastest touring car drivers in the field. But he certainly won’t be 10 seconds behind the last guy.
“People like to see the orange colours and they will like to see him in the paddock at Zandvoort because the Dutch royal family is well known and popular in Holland.”
Van Oranje has previously worked with Dutch touring car race winner Tom Coronel, who is looking forward to racing alongside royalty.
“I’ve been giving some lessons to Bernhard,” said Coronel. “The first time he was on a podium was with me in a long-distance race.
“A few years ago I promised he could drive my race car and I did that at the beginning of this season. I did 10 laps in my Honda Civic Type R TCR myself then I put him in the car. The team was quite surprised but I said ‘don’t worry, he knows what he’s doing, he likes motor racing, he knows the track and has been a race driver for 15 years’.
“It’s a unique and cool thing for us to have him in our championship and I want him to enjoy the ride.”