Gilles Magnus will contest the full six-event FIA World Touring Car Cup season in 2020, after the Belgian switched campaigns from TCR Europe with Comtoyou Racing.
Magnus had been set to enter into a second successive season in TCR Europe with the Belgian Comtoyou squad, but the restructuring of the WTCR calendar as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic has presented a new opportunity.
With WTCR now running a Europe-only six-event calendar in 2020, Magnus has been able to enter the full WTCR season in the Audi RS3 LMS which he had been planning to use in TCR Europe.
“We already announced at the beginning of the year we would be doing TCR Europe, which was already a nice opportunity after I won one race in 2019,” said Magnus, who will continue to be backed by the RACB National Team.
“Then Geoffroy Theunis from RACB started talking to me about WTCR being a possibility but I wasn’t sure if it was going to happen.
“But a few days ago, he called me and said, ‘everything was done and we were going to be doing WTCR’, so it’s a dream come true.
“I am only 20 years old and I didn’t see it coming, so that makes it even more special and I’m really excited.
“It’s an amazing championship with amazing names like Muller, Tarquini, Coronel, all big guys with a lot of experience.”
Magnus believes that competing in the 2020 WTCR will be the same level of effort as remaining in TCR Europe, only with a higher level of competition from teams and drivers.
“You always feel ready for more and I definitely feel ready. Although I only have one year of experience in TCR I adapted myself really quick.
“WTCR is something special and in this new, even higher level, I will adapt myself quick and let’s hope I can do some results. Although the level is really high let’s make the best of it and let’s see.
“It’s the same as doing another TCR Europe season only with a higher level. The team is the same so that’s really good you have one year of experience with the same people. That’s always an advantage.”
Head of Eurosport Events François Ribeiro welcomed the move for Magnus to drive in WTCR for the shortened Autumn season.
“It’s great that one of the top talents of TCR Europe has been able to take advantage of the restructured WTCR calendar and the re-opening of full-season entries to step up to WTCR,” said Ribeiro.
“The RACB National Team has a proven record of detecting young drivers with huge potential and it’s certainly the case with Gilles Magnus, who proved his ability with some great results in his first season racing in TCR in 2019.”
“With young drivers like Bence Boldizs and Luca Engstler also on board, the WTCR’s Rookie Driver Award is really taking shape and it’s going to be really exciting to watch their progression in 2020.
“Creating a separate classification for these young talents is a really good way of comparing their performances as they build their experience in WTCR.”
Comtoyou Racing had already been set to field a two-car WTCR line-up in 2020 with Tom Coronel and Nathanaël Berthon, and the team has been permitted to expand to three cars because Magnus counts as a rookie driver eligible for the all-new Rookie Driver Award.
Geoffroy Theunis, who heads up the RACB National Team, explained how the decision to move into WTCR had come about.
“The new calendar was an affordable opportunity to jump on the WTCR train and we worked hard with Comtoyou and Audi Sport to try to build up his programme to have Gilles on the WTCR grid,” said Theunis.
“He is very talented and was one of the revelations of TCR Europe last year, one of the young guns. He’s ready to jump into WTCR and especially with this new Rookie Driver Award.
“The target will be to win that, it’s the main motivation. But during the 16 races I’m pretty sure he could impress a lot of people because the speed is there and the talent is there.
“He learned a lot last year in his first season in TCR Europe with some strong results. On all the rounds he could be a good surprise.”