Belgian youngster, Wolfgang Reip is going to compete in two major GT championships in Europe this season, the Blancpain Endurance Series and the FIA GT Series. In campaigns, the European graduate of the GT Academy will race a Nissan GT-R GT3 run by Bob Neville’s RJN team. It was first planned that Reip would race in the British GT Championship in order to follow the footsteps of Jann Mardenborough, but as the British GT championship is only for Pro-Am pairings, the members of the GT Academy had to look for another series. The line-ups are not finalised yet but the two Nissan’s will be driven by graduates of the GT Academy, with backup from experienced drivers.
How will this first real season in motorsport work out?
WG: “It will hinge on two very important championships: the Blancpain Endurance Series and the newborn FIA GT Series. I do not know my teammates now because the line-up is not finalised yet. What is sure is that there will be Peter (Pyzera), Mark (Shulzhitskiy) and Steve (Doherty). I am glad to take part in these two series because I will be able to alternate Endurance racing and Sprint racing, where the mindset is really different. For Nissan and the GT Academy, Endurance has a very important interest level. We were already able to see that with Lucas (Ordonez), Jann (Mardenborough) and Jordan (Tresson).”
Have you already tested the Nissan GT-R GT3?
“The first tests are planned for next week. There is some test sessions that are planned before the start of the season at Nogaro in April. RJN will also be present at the SRO Official Tests in a few weeks at Paul Ricard. I am eager to discover the car with the 2013 development. The car looks even more efficient than last year. One of them will be a new car, while the second will be the one that raced in 2012, with the last developments.”
The original deal was to race in British GT…
“Yes, but the championship was only made up with Pro-Am pairings so we could not enter it. Last year, Jann was as fast as his teammate. Despite a time penalty, the duo almost claimed the title. Let’s say that we are too fast for our level of experience. So we are going to bounce back in Blancpain Endurance Series and FIA GT Series but there will be a lot of pressure in both championships for a first year.”
This means that there will be another 24 Hours race this year for you…
“After Dubai in January, there will be the 24 Hours of Spa in July. I am really thrilled to be able to enter such a mythical race. I never raced on that track, not even during a track day. Spa has always been my favorite track and I cannot wait to be there because all my family and all my friends will be present. Beforehand, there will be Zolder with the FIA GT Series of course.”
For a first season, you are going to enter two major championships. Any apprehension?
“Both series are at a very high level and we will soon know where we stand compared to the other competitors. The Blancpain Endurance Series races are endurance events but we can assimilate that with sprint races. On a personal level, the stints are still quite short. It will be different at Spa with a 24 Hours race and at Nürburgring with a 1000kms race. In FIA GT Series, we are going to rub shoulders with teams accustomed to that format.”
What is your objective for 2013?
“At least one podium and hopefully a victory. I know that the Nissan GT-R GT3 Spec-2013 has improved in aerodynamic performance and will be efficient on sinuous tracks. The car has obviously improved, which makes me confident. My development programme ended one month before the 24 Hours of Dubai. Now we are faced with the same things that the other drivers deal with and we are going to enter the deep-end of the competition. We are going to train in a single-seater in order to get to know the aerodynamic grip levels. We also have an intensive physical program, to stay in good shape. Since the end of the selection, I spent three months in England training six days a week, with only one day off every week. I had to work my driving, physical condition and press relations as well. We also took part to several races in order to get the international license.”
The dream comes true?
“It is only the beginning of the dream. By winning the GT Academy, I knew it could all happen very fast because everything is very professional in the training program. I really think that the GT Academy is the best way to make a debut. In less than 6 months, I went form nothing to the Blancpain Endurance Series. I took the plunge with Dubai, which went well. For me it is an amazing program lying ahead, and I look forward to being part of it.”
Ironically, you are going to compete against Bas Leinders, who was one of your mentors. Funny situation, isn’t it?
“Bas was my coach, as well as Tim (Coronel). They were a great support to me. Bas played a big role in my victory. Now we are going to compete against each other. We are still in contact. He manages one of the best teams in the Blancpain Endurance Series, where three good drivers, Maxime Martin, Markus Palttala and himself are racing. I am truly honoured he put his faith in me.”
How do you see your future?
“I want to go as far as I can in motorsports, and stay as long as I can and be successful. I won’t close any door even if endurance racing seems better for me.”
This article first appeared on www.endurance-info.com