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WRT “Running Out of Space” in Workshop with DTM Expansion

WRT stretched for space with addition of new DTM program next to GT3, TCR projects…

Photo: Audi

WRT team principal Vincent Vosse says the Belgian squad is being stretched for space in its workshop as it prepares for its DTM debut in 2019.

WRT, which is entering two Audi RS5 Turbos as an Audi customer, is housing its new program under the same roof as its multi-car Blancpain GT operation with the Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo and its global TCR venture.

Vosse told Sportscar365 that the team’s facility near Mons is nearly at working capacity as it recruits new engineering staff for its third major circuit racing project.

“We did not make an extra building,” he said, when asked if WRT has expanded its premises for the additional program.

“We are running out of space a bit. We have a lot of race cars in the workshop, a lot of material. It’s a lot of cars, a lot of people, and a lot of things to do.

“Most of the DTM team is new people. I have related to the existing team of three or four people who will do a bit of both, which is our sporting director [Pierre Dieudonne] and some mechanics, but all the engineering is all new.”

Vosse admitted that it’s been a challenge to assemble a DTM team from scratch based on the available expertise.

Most of the team’s DTM personnel have been picked for their prior experience in the series with Audi and other manufacturers, but this hasn’t been a straightforward process.

It’s understood that WRT has hired some former HWA staff who worked on the now-defunct Mercedes program, although Vosse said the numbers were “not as many as I was hoping”.

“It’s not been a nightmare, but it’s been very difficult,” he said.

“First of all, to attract people who work for and are paid by a manufacturer. I’m not going to pick up people from Audi existing teams because we are working together.

“There is BMW [which] has a very precise policy on when someone from an existing team wants to leave.

“HWA [Mercedes] did not release many people, because they have a future in DTM [with Aston Martin] and they have more programs than they used to. They have Formula 2, Formula 3, Formula E. It’s a lot of work.”

It’s understood that former Ferrari F1 race engineer Maurizio Leschiutta, who also worked on the multiple championship-winning Maserati MC12 GT1 program, is an addition to the team.

Leschiutta appears to have become WRT’s general technical director and DTM program manager for the 2019 season, which starts at Hockenheim on May 4.

Search for Young Driver Talent

Vosse explained how WRT is planning to recruit young drivers for its DTM entry to help form a path up the motorsport ladder.

WRT is the only team still to confirm its 2019 driver lineup after R-Motorsport recently completed its four-man roster.

An announcement detailing its full plans is expected in early March.

“It has always been the idea to have some young new driver, a bit like a junior [team] but it’s not a junior team officially,” said Vosse.

“But the goal of some drivers who came into our GT team was to be able to replace, let’s say, Rene Rast, when he was in the GT program.

“It is the same for the DTM drivers. To be there, to be able to show what they are able to do. To be chosen by BMW, Aston Martin or Audi, especially Audi, to replace a [factory] driver.”

Vosse confirmed that one of WRT’s 2019 driver spots has been filled, saying that he has “finalized half” of the lineup.

He also suggested that WRT is more likely to take on drivers who haven’t previously raced the team’s Audi GT3 cars.

“I will not say it cannot be the case but my objective was always to take someone from Formula 3, Formula 2 – drivers who believe that they don’t have any other opportunity going down that road,” he explained.

“Being in DTM with us could be an option to diversify and take another route. As an example, [there was] [Esteban] Ocon who spent one year in DTM, or [Pascal] Wehrlein who was champion.

“It means that you can do F3, DTM, F1 – or you can do F3, F2 and F1 – but you can also do 20 years of DTM.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365 and e-racing365, with a focus on the FIA World Endurance Championship and various electric racing series.

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