Alessio Picariello is hoping his two years of experience in Audi R8 LMS Cup will help lead to new opportunities in GT racing.
The 24-year-old Belgian claimed the 2017 championship in convincing fashion, with four wins and two additional podium finishes, after narrowly missing out on the title the previous year with his MGT by Absolute team.
With a focus on Am drivers in Audi’s premier Cup next year, Picariello said he’s looking at options to remain in Asia as well as expand his horizons in Europe, particularly with a foray into endurance racing.
“I learned more or less everything [in Audi R8 LMS Cup] because it’s where I started to drive GT3s,” Picariello told Sportscar365. “For me, it was really interesting to race there.
“OK, I had some experience in single seaters but racing in a GT3 is pretty different.
“I also raced against some really experienced guys so I learned a lot and I think I showed it in Blancpain GT Series Asia this year in the qualifying, when I could show some good pace.
“For me, it is definitely a highlight to have won the Audi R8 LMS Cup and I’m happy that I’ve done it. It’s been two good years of experience.”
A second season in Blancpain GT Series Asia, where he finished fifth in the Pro-Am championship with Absolute despite missing the first weekend of the season, is among the top objectives for 2018.
“The goal is to stay with and race for Audi, again in Asia,” he said. “For me, it’s where I started racing again, more or less, so I would be happy to race there again.
“We are also looking for a program in Europe or to do the big races and gain more experience and show [my] face there as well. We’re working on it and it’s not looking too bad at the moment.”
While having contested selected VLN rounds in 2016 to gain his track license, the former ADAC Formel Masters champion has yet to compete in a race longer than six hours.
“The goal for me is to become a factory driver and to represent the brand is a dream for me, to have trust from a big manufacturer,” Picariello said.
“I guess I’ll still have to get some experience in big races. That’s my problem, because I’ve never had the opportunity to race in races like the Nürburgring 24 or 24 Hours of Spa because I don’t have the budget for it.
“I’d like to show that I’m able to race there as well and for someone to take the risk – I’m sure I can do well – but to take the risk to put me in one car and let’s see.
“I need someone to trust me, so let’s see.”