One of the most successful GT drivers of this era is seeking new opportunities, as Stephane Ortelli has parted ways with Audi following a multi-year stint as a works driver for its customer sport division. (En Français)
Ortelli’s contract with the German manufacturer runs up at the end of this year, with the VW emissions crisis reportedly playing a factor in the 45-year-old Monegasque not being retained for 2016.
“The new policy in the group demanded budget cuts,” Ortelli told Endurance-Info. “In addition, Audi-contracted drivers have to be re-assigned due to the absence of the third Audi at Le Mans.
“This is another chapter in my career that will open. Everything was decided quite late but I have no bitterness. I saw [myself] and my teammates thrive in recent years.”
Ortelli had been a staple at Belgian Audi Club Team WRT since its inception, and remains the only the driver to have won a race in each season of a Blancpain-labeled championship, including the 2012 Blancpain Endurance title.
The 1998 Le Mans winner says he has a number of options in the works for next year, in and out of Blancpain GT, although nothing has been finalized.
“Things are moving in the right direction,” he said. “The Blancpain GT Series is a very strong series and teams will be looking for experienced pilots.
“I remain confident about the future. I have a record to defend at least a podium in every season of Blancpain.
“I participated in the Bentley [LMP1] back in endurance, early Aston Martin DBR9, the launch of the Ferrari 430 GT2, the development of the Audi R8 LMS, not to mention a great career at Porsche.
“I still have the same vision integrates sport. I stayed at Freisinger Motorsport [and now] four and five years at WRT. I’m very excited about future projects.
“You have to be positive and look forward. A new chapter of my career will open. I am at my best shape and I know the difference in difficult times.”