In a shocking development, Marc VDS Racing Team announced Tuesday its withdrawal from all car racing activities in 2016.
The Belgian team, which won this year’s Total 24 Hours of Spa, will cease all four-wheeled racing programs following this month’s European Le Mans Series season finale in Estoril.
Team principal Marc van der Straten has cited increased costs, particularly costs that nearly doubled due to “financial mismanagement” within the team, as one of his primary reasons for their withdrawal.
“I owe my passion for racing from my late father, who was a well known figure in the word of motorsport,” van der Straten said.
“It was he who gave me the values that I have lived by, who instilled in me the code of honor that relies not on contracts or long agreements.
“I speak of a time when his word and a handshake were enough to cement a deal, without resort to tons of paper and many signatures.
“It was eight years ago that I started out on my own in Gosselies with Belgian Racing, to build an ambitious racing team recognizable by our distinctive feline emblem.
“We must recognize that things have changed. So much so that today my passion for racing is gone.
“Collaborators have betrayed both my trust and the family spirit of our team. I am 67-years-old and I do not have the time left to accept behavior that disrespects the moral principles I hold dear.
“I am tired by the lack of professionalism of some of the people I, wrongly, placed in key positions within the team. I’m tired of those who have no other purpose but to financially jeopardize our business, even to the point of bankruptcy.
“That is why I have decided today to bring down the curtain on Belgian Racing and end my long association with four-wheeled motorsport.”
The team, which parted ways with former team manager Bas Leinders following Spa, will continue on two wheels, in MotoGP and Moto2 competition.
Marc VDS has been considered one of the most successful European GT operations, with multiple championships and wins, including the 2013 Blancpain Endurance Series Pro Cup title.
It also held a close link to BMW, having fielded factory-supported BMW Z4 GT3s and was tipped to lead the German manufacturer’s charge in Europe with the new M6 GT3, which it has played a key role in development.
Van der Straten confirmed even a one-off appearance to defend their overall crown at Spa will not be possible.
“Of course, I do not forget our beautiful victory with the BMW Z4 GT3 at the 24 Hours of Spa this season, but it will not be repeated,” he said.
“How can I accept being forced to race in an entire championship just to have the right to race in this one event?
“The man has not yet been born who can tell me what to do at home, in Belgium!”