Ex-single-seater racer gets new car for WTCR / OSCARO season two *From ice racing to touring car racing, Panis is ‘race fit’ for 2019 *Team boss Baert: “Aurélien is talented and shares our values”
Aurélien Panis will continue to challenge in the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO, re-signing for Comtoyou Racing but switching cars to a Cupra TCR.
Panis, 24, was a WTCR / OSCARO points-scorer with Comtoyou in 2018 at the wheel of an Audi RS 3 LMS. But with new regulations restricting the number of cars per brand to four, and with all entries for Audi-powered drivers already assigned, Panis will get the opportunity to drive a Cupra in 2019. And while the car represents unchartered territory for Frenchman Panis, he can take plenty of positives from the performances of Cupra drivers in WTCR / OSCARO last season.
“We saw last year with Pepe Oriola and the other drivers that the car is really fast in every track,” said Panis, the son of 1996 Monaco Grand Prix winner Olivier Panis. “I feel really confident with that and I’m really happy to work with Cupra and to continue with Comtoyou Racing. Last season was not easy from scratch, but I take a lot of experience and, in the end, the pace was good, we were fighting in the top 10 and even in the top five. For the second year my goal is to fight with the best drivers and to try to jump onto the podium.
“I am very happy to carry on in WTCR for the second year in a row. Continuity is very important and from that I am in position to reap the benefits of months of work and progress.
Panis will start WTCR / OSCARO season two on the back of a strong showing in the Trophée Andros ice-racing series, where he scored the best overall finish by an all-electric car with third position in the final elite category standings. He also won the Super Finale at the prestigious Stade de France in Paris alongside his father. “It was a good winter for me and for sure to be doing a competition rather than having nothing to do is helpful for my preparations,” Panis Jr said.
For Jean-Michel Baert’s Comtoyou Racing operation, another busy WTCR / OSCARO campaign is in store with the Belgian squad continuing to run four cars, albeit as two separate entities under rules restricting each entrant to a maximum of two cars.
“I am very happy to be able to renew Aurélien’s contract,” said Baert. “He shares the same values as Comtoyou Racing. He’s a very talented boy who wins every year in experience. He won a TCR race in Buriram in 2017 and will take both factors into account on the #WTCR2019SUPERGRID.
“This announcement also confirms the partnership we have set up with Cupra. Jaime Puig wanted us to work together for a long time and hopefully we’ll be very successful. One thing is certain, we expect a lot of success in this new collaboration.”
François Ribeiro, Head of Eurosport Events, the WTCR promoter, said: “We saw good progression from Aurélien in 2018 and we expect the same in 2019 when he will benefit from the continuity of being part of the Comtoyou family for another year. He gained self-confidence and will have a great level of competition on the #WTCR2019SUPERGRID to benchmark his progresses.”
Comtoyou Racing will reveal its second Cupra-powered driver and more details of its WTCR / OSCARO campaign in due course, following the announcement last week that rookie Niels Langeveld (Netherlands) and Frédéric Vervisch (Belgium) will compete in its Audi Sport customer racing-supported attack driving the Audi RS 3 LMS under the Comtoyou Team Audi Sport banner.