Boutsen Racing and Marc VDS will join forces in 2023 to create BOUTSEN VDS, a two-car programme that will contest the full Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS season in collaboration with Audi Sport. The newly merged squad will also undertake a Lamborghini Super Trofeo effort.
Each team is already well-known in its own right. A stalwart of the Endurance Cup, Boutsen Racing is run by husband and wife duo Olivier Lainé and Olivia Boutsen. Their son Amaury looks after marketing, while former F1 ace Thierry Boutsen – Olivia's brother – acts as an advisor. In recent years, they have focussed on the Pro-Am and Gold Cup classes.
Led by Marc Van der Straten, the Marc VDS name returns to the Fanatec GT circuit following a seven-year absence. Between 2011 and 2015 the Belgian squad was among the most successful operations in the paddock, notably securing six overall wins in the Endurance Cup, including a landmark triumph at the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa in 2015.
Marc Van der Straten: "I wanted to return to GT and endurance racing, one of my favourite disciplines. The possibility of associating myself with the Lainé-Boutsen family allows me to revive the cat, which is my logo, without starting from scratch. I am very happy about this and I cannot wait for 2023 to start.”
Olivier Lainé: “In 20 years we have touched many facets of motor sport. We have helped young drivers to develop in single-seaters in the Belgian Formula Renault 1.6 Championship, we have driven a lot of touring cars – including winning two consecutive titles in TCR Benelux – and we have competed twice in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with an LMP2 prototype. However, we have now turned our attention to GT racing, on the one hand with the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS and on the other hand with the Lamborghini Super Trofeo.”
Olivia Boutsen: “We have a great many ambitions, but we also know that we have to progress step by step. In 2023, we will still be present in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo and we will strengthen our presence in the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS. For the future, everything is possible, but we will take one year at a time.”
Amaury Lainé: “Instead of entering an R8 LMS GT3 Evo II in the Endurance Cup, we will enter two cars in both Sprint and Endurance. It is a big step for our team, but we are extremely motivated and the association with Marc VDS will allow us to do things in a very good context.”
While crews and classes are yet to be revealed, two drivers have already been confirmed: “I have been following Aurélien Panis and Alberto di Folco for a few years now,” says Van der Straten. “It is therefore logical that they will join our team next year. As for the rest, discussions are underway and those who will wear our colours will be announced in the coming weeks.”
BOUTSEN VDS is the second Belgian team to confirm a 2023 programme with Audi Sport following the recent announcement by Comtoyou Racing. The 2023 campaign will begin with the traditional test days at Circuit Paul Ricard on 7-8 March. The Endurance Cup launches at Monza on 21-23 April, while the Sprint season gets under way at Brands Hatch on 13-14 May.