Aurélien Panis will remain with Belgian team Comtoyou Racing for the 2019 FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR), with the Frenchman switching to CUPRA machinery due to the new rules restricting the number of cars per brand.
The 24-year-old raced an Audi RS3 LMS for the team in 2018, becoming a regular top ten finisher after the mid-point of the season when Comtoyou Racing began to get to grips with its Audis.
As all the Audi entries are already assigned, in order to remain with the team in 2019 Panis has had to switch machinery to the Spanish CUPRA model, which claimed one victory last year at the hands of Pepe Oriola.
“We saw last year with Pepe Oriola and the other drivers that the car is really fast in every track,” said Panis. “I feel really confident with that and I’m really happy to work with CUPRA and to continue with Comtoyou Racing.
“Last season was not easy from scratch, but I take a lot of experience and, in the end, the pace was good, we were fighting in the top ten and even in the top five.
“For the second year my goal is to fight with the best drivers and to try to jump onto the podium.
“I am very happy to carry on in WTCR for the second year in a row. Continuity is very important and from that I am in position to reap the benefits of months of work and progress.”
Panis has recently enjoyed strong performances in the Trophée Andros Ice Racing series, where he was third overall in the elite category standings and the best driver in an all-electric car.
“It was a good winter for me and for sure to be doing a competition rather than having nothing to do is helpful for my preparations,” added Panis.
Comtoyou Racing boss Jean-Michel Baert has high expectations from continuing to work with Panis, who was victorious in the TCR International Series in 2017 in Thailand. Baert will continue to run four cars in WTCR, under two separate entities due to the limit of four cars per brand.
“I am very happy to be able to renew Aurélien’s contract,” said Baert. “He shares the same values as Comtoyou Racing.
“He’s a very talented boy who wins every year in experience. He won a TCR race in Buriram in 2017 and will take both factors into account on the #WTCR2019SUPERGRID.
“This announcement also confirms the partnership we have set up with CUPRA. Jaime Puig [CUPRA boss] wanted us to work together for a long time and hopefully we’ll be very successful.
“One thing is certain, we expect a lot of success in this new collaboration.”
Panis’ Comtoyou Racing CUPRA team-mate will be revealed in due course.