WRT confirms WTCR departure after Sepang

WRT confirms WTCR departure after Sepang

Gordon Shedden
Photo: Clement Marin / DPPI

WRT has confirmed that it will depart the FIA World Touring Car Cup after this weekend’s season finale in Sepang, ending a successful stint in TCR which began in the TCR International series in 2016.

The team has run Audi RS3 LMS TCR cars for Jean-Karl Vernay and Gordon Shedden in this season’s WTCR, but a lack of wins and “a not perfectly erven playing field”, combined with the departure of Volkswagen Audi Group brands Volkswagen and Audi from TCR, have resulted in WRT deciding to call time on its TCR programme.

Thus, the Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport will cease its participation in TCR after this weekend’s season finale in Malaysia.

The team lifted the 2016 TCR International series title with Stefano Comini, before Vernay repeated the feat the following year.

The team moved on to WTCR in 2018 with Audi machinery, with Vernay being in title contention for much of the year. 2019 has proven to be more of a challenge with the Audi machinery, resulting in a lack of race wins to-date. Only Comtoyou Racing’s Frédéric Vervisch has won in the car this year.

“Sepang will be our last race at the highest level of TCR racing, after two years in the TCR International Series and two in the FIA WTCR,” said Team Principal Vincent Vosse.

“It has been an exciting and successful chapter in the story of our team, also through our involvement in the Europe and Benelux series. We will keep a lot of good memories and I hope we may have the opportunity to come back in the future.

“For 2020, beside the GT3 and DTM programmes, Team WRT will take up new challenges that we will present shortly.

“At this moment, I want to thank the team and all the people that have been involved in these four years in TCR, for their great work and for their passion, and Leopard Racing for the fantastic partnership and support.

“I also would like to express all my appreciation to Jean-Karl Vernay, who has been a terrific leader of our TCR campaigns and has brought us so many successes. He is part of the WRT family and I hope we can work together again in the near future.”

Pierre Dieudonné, Sporting Director is optimistic for the weekend’s races, despite it being the conclusion of a season which he felt had been ‘uneven’ in relation to the team’s competitors.

“As committed professionals, the whole team is determined to do well in this last round and finish the season and our tenure in TCR on a positive note,” said Dieudonné.

“We [have] had a challenging season and have been faced with an uneven playing field, but the team has never lost motivation and has always reacted with great professionalism.

“We’ll see what happens at Sepang, the good thing is that we will only have 10 kgs of compensation weight.

“The format weekend will be a challenge and no mistakes will be allowed on Sunday, with the three races almost on a sequence.

“It will be the round that will decide the titles, with a number of different contenders, so nobody will hide its cards and will give everything, and that will certainly have an impact on how the races will develop.”