U.S. Markets closed

WRT Audi to withdraw from WTCR grid after Malaysia season finale

Jack Cozens
WRT Audi to withdraw from WTCR grid

The WRT Audi team has announced it will end its participation in the World Touring Car Cup after this weekend's season finale in Malaysia.

WRT, which has run Audi Sport drivers Jean-Karl Vernay and Gordon Shedden for the past two seasons in WTCR, has also ended its single-car TCR Europe programme with Santiago Urrutia.

It will instead concentrate on its DTM and GT commitments, as well as "new challenges" that it plans to announce soon.

The team has cited the Balance of Performance employed in TCR categories as a source of frustration in 2019, and reiterated that in its pre-event press release ahead of the Sepang round.

"We will keep a lot of good memories and I hope we may have the opportunity to come back [to WTCR] in the future," said team principal Vincent Vosse (pictured below).

"At this moment, I want to thank the team and all the people that have been involved in these four years in TCR, for their great work and for their passion, and Leopard Racing for the fantastic partnership and support."

WRT Audi to withdraw from WTCR grid

Sporting director Pierre Dieudonne added: "As committed professionals, the whole team is determined to do well in this last round and finish the season and our tenure in TCR on a positive note.

"We had a challenging season and have been faced with an uneven playing field, but the team has never lost motivation and has always reacted with great professionalism."

WRT's announcement effectively acts as a precursor to the anticipated end of Audi Sport customer racing's involvement in WTCR.

Though Audi has issued no official communication about the end of its support of WTCR activities, sources have said the brand will withdraw from the series at the end of this year.

Of the four full-season Audi drivers that have competed for WRT and Comtoyou Racing this year, all of whom were Audi Sport drivers, only Frederic Vervisch's name was included in a statement from the brand last week that confirmed its 2020 driver roster.

This also listed only participation in "worldwide GT programs" for 2020.

Audi was the only Volkswagen Audi Group brand active in TCR that was not developing a new car for 2020, though Volkswagen has since scrapped its project after announcing it will end its support of programmes with combustion engines.

Autosport contacted Audi Sport customer racing for comment last week.

WRT joined the TCR International Series in 2016 and ran Stefano Comini to the drivers' title that year, with Comini and team-mate Vernay helping WRT to finish second in the teams' standings.

Vernay then claimed the drivers' crown the following year, and was a title contender in the first WTCR season before finishing fifth with four victories. He and Shedden have endured a tougher 2019, however, and both are without a win.

Vernay is currently 10th, though could end this weekend as high as fifth, while of the 26 full-season drivers, Shedden - who was 13th overall with one victory last year - sits second to last in the points.

Get unlimited access to the world’s best motorsport journalism with Autosport Plus