Gilles Magnus has followed Jean-Karl Vernay in underlining the importance of the WTCR Trophy by securing a huge career boost.
The 22-year-old has been added to Audi Sport customer racing’s official driver squad for 2022 following a standout 2021 WTCR − FIA World Touring Car Cup campaign, which included claiming his maiden outright victory in the series and winning the WTCR Trophy for independent racers.
Belgian Magnus succeeded Vernay by lifting the WTCR Trophy and emulating the Frenchman’s achievement of landing an opportunity with a customer racing department for the following season. After winning the inaugural WTCR Trophy in 2020, Vernay joined Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing’s WTCR effort for 2021.
“The WTCR Trophy is a great initiative to have a series within a series,” said Magnus. “Because the level is really high with the big guys it’s almost impossible to compete against them in your first year. So it’s good to have this series for the young drivers and it proves you can become a professional if you do well in the WTCR Trophy.”
Magnus joins 2021 FIA WTCR Junior Driver Title winner Luca Engstler in being signed up to Audi Sport customer racing’s official driver line-up − which also includes existing members and WTCR race winners Nathanaël Berthon and Frédéric Vervisch − although their precise programmes for 2022 have yet to be announced.
“It’s been such a dream to become an official driver,” said Magnus, who raced for Comtoyou Team Audi Sport in last season’s WTCR. “I did everything I could to win the WTCR Trophy. My goal ever since I started my career was to be with a brand like Audi Sport, it’s such a famous name and it makes this reward 10 times better. I cannot put my emotions into words, but it’s just great and this adventure is only just starting.”
He continued: “It’s thanks to the RACB, Comtoyou Racing and Audi Sport I am in this position. I did my best to help the team last year, not only helping where I could for Fred [Vervisch] to become runner-up in the series, but also in developing the car, using my small experience to bring as much information to make the car better for the customers. I did my maximum for that and I’m sure I’ve grown throughout the year. I hope what I did in 2021 was one of the reasons why I have this chance.”
Magnus joined the WTCR grid in 2020 with support from the Belgian ASN-run RACB National Team initiative. A frontrunner from the outset, he won the RACB’s initial selection for a TCR Europe drive in 2019 at Audi in Neuburg an der Donau in December 2018. His victory at WTCR Race of Hungary in 2021 was the first by an independent racer in Audi’s second-generation R3 LMS.
What is the WTCR Trophy?
Introduced to great acclaim ahead of the 2020 season, the WTCR Trophy gives drivers competing without the financial support of a customer racing department the opportunity to chase their share of the glory through the provision of separate points and a title.
Although the WTCR is a category for teams rather than manufacturers, some drivers enjoy the support of car brands. Those extra resources can give them a performance edge over their lesser-funded rivals across a full-season campaign, making the WTCR Trophy important in encouraging wider participation and recognising achievement. Once again, WTCR Trophy drivers will also be eligible for overall points.
As a commercial award, the WTCR Trophy will not carry an FIA title and will be administered by Discovery Sports Events. As such, Discovery Sports Events will determine the drivers who are eligible for the WTCR Trophy and its decision will be final.
Capturing the spirit of the WTCC Trophy awarded to independent racers in the FIA World Touring Car Championship from 2005-2017, the WTCR Trophy proved an instant hit following its launch in June 2020 with seven registrations received ahead of the opening round that year.
Nathanaël Berthon, Tom Coronel and Jean-Karl Vernay demonstrated the competitiveness of WTCR Trophy drivers by claiming outright race victories, while WTCR Trophy title winner Vernay placed third in the final overall standings in 2020.
With Berthon and Vernay both securing drives with teams supported by customer racing departments for 2021, it was left to Coronel and fellow Audi RS 3 LMS driver Gilles Magnus to fight for the title with Magnus coming out on top for Comtoyou Racing. Bence Boldizs was classified third for Zengő Motorsport Drivers’ Academy, while Target Competition trio Andreas Bäckman, Jessica Bäckman and Nicola Baldan also scored points.
As well as chasing their own points and title, WTCR Trophy drivers will benefit from additional media exposure and promotional opportunities including dedicated TV interviews and social media posts. A section of FIAWTCR.com will be devoted to the WTCR Trophy, while drivers will take part in their own podium celebration and carry a WTCR Trophy logo on their car and overalls.
WTCR Trophy calendar 2022
Rounds 1 and 2: WTCR Race of Czech Republic, Autodrom Most, April 9-10
Rounds 3 and 4: WTCR Race of France, Circuit de Pau-Ville, May 7-8
Rounds 5 and 6: WTCR Race of Germany, Nürburgring Nordschleife, May 26-28
Rounds 7 and 8: WTCR Race of Hungary, Hungaroring, June 11-12
Rounds 9 and 10: WTCR Race of Spain, MotorLand Aragón, June 25-26
Rounds 11 and 12: WTCR Race of Portugal, Circuito do Vila Real, July 2-3
Rounds 13 and 14: WTCR Race of Russia, Sochi Autodrom, August 6-7
Rounds 15 and 16: WTCR Race of Korea, Inje Speedium, October 8-9
Rounds 17 and 18: WTCR Race of China, Ningbo International Speedpark, November 5-6
Rounds 19 and 20: WTCR Race of Macau, Circuito da Guia, November 18-20
WTCR Trophy scoring system:
Fastest Qualifying lap: 1 point
Race 1: 1st: 10 points; 2nd: 8; 3rd: 5; 4th: 3; 5th: 1; Fastest lap: 1
Race 2: 1st: 10 points; 2nd: 8; 3rd: 5; 4th: 3; 5th: 1; Fastest lap: 1