Will Stevens announced midweek that he was to forego options in the 2017 FIA WEC’s new look LMP2 class, after two race wins in the class last season. in favour of continuing his GT career with Belgian Audi Club Team WRT with a full Blancpain GT Series effort in an Audi R8 LMS.
The ex-F1 man had offers on the table from several LMP2 teams but instead is looking to GT racing as a future career path:
“I did have offers and opportunities in LMP2 and it was very tempting, the new cars are a big step forward. In GT racing though there are two big draws. There are, I believe, more career possibilities moving forward and, in the shorter term, I can win races.
Stevens already has a season with WRT under his belt with podium finishes already scored:
“It is a steep learning curve after a career spent up until now entirely in high downforce cars, and with such a bog field and such a depth of quality it is a real challenge to get your way to the front but I love the racing and I love the challenge.
“There were some big steps forward last season and the team is just great, hugely experienced, really the class of the field both on the pit wall and in pit lane as well as a really impressive team of drivers.
This year is about building on the progress I made last season. That’s why I have committed to the whole Blancpain GT Series, Sprint and Endurance, no distractions and not missing any races.
So what is the long-term aim?
“Of course I want to target a factory seat, whether in GT3 or GTE and I believe in the slightly longer term that is achievable. The best way of achieving that is to deliver race wins. The Blancpain Series sees me doing a lot of racing and that will help to further develop the skill set and get more out of the car and myself.
“Not having a second programme will help the focus.
“GT racing across the board is going places, the level of the competition is sky high and the opportunities are growing, something you can’t say about many areas of the sport right now.”
Whilst the Blancpain GT Series is a full season effort there is space in your calendar for other racing – Is there anything else on your radar in GT3 in particular?
“I want to do the big races, of course, Bathurst, and the Nurburgring both have real appeal, but not at the expense of the full season effort.
“If I perform then those opportunities will come.”
And what about North America?
“With the change to GTs being a recent one I haven’t looked at America in very much detail yet but I know the racing there is top drawer and of course I’d be interested if an opportunity presented itself.”
And finally, what about Le Mans. Where does that sit in your priorities?
“Of course it’s a race that every pro driver wants to win. There’s no clash this year and if a good offer came up I’d take a look. I’m not though going to do it just to make up the numbers, I’ll only go if I could be part of a winning effort.
Will’s first race in 2017 for Belgian Audi Club Team WRT is at Misano Italy on 1/2 April for the opening round of the Sprint Series with the first Endurance race at Monza.