The first entries of the inaugural 2018 FIA World Touring Car Cup have been announced, with Belgian outfit Comtoyou Racing confirming it will field a pair of Audi RS3 LMS cars for local driver Denis Dupont and Frenchman Aurélien Panis.
Twenty-five-year-old Dupont (pictured above left) has secured his driving with the backing of Belgium’s motorsport federation, the RACB, which has backed the youngster’s career since 2016.
He made his touring car debut that year in the TCR BeNeLux Touring Car Championship at the wheel off a SEAT León TCR entered by the RACB. Earning race wins in his rookie campaign, he remained in the series in 2017.
Towards the end of the year he made the jump to the TCR International Series, driving in the Chinese and Dubai rounds with Comtoyou Racing.
“I will never be able to show my true gratitude for the exceptional opportunity that the RACB and Comtoyou have given me,” Dupont said.
“I will be part of this growing international series, get more track time than ever before and drive an Audi RS3 LMS from Comtoyou Racing, which is obviously very powerful. Of course, I know almost none of the circuits but I have so many opportunities to be able to show my value and I hope to climb onto the podium several times.”
Dupont will be partnered by French youngster Aurélien Panis (pictured above right), the son of former Grand Prix driver Olivier Panis.
The 23-year-old made his touring car debut last year in the FIA World Touring Car Championship at the wheel of a Zengő Motorsport Honda. Despite scoring points on debut in Morocco, the youngster parted ways with the Hungarian team by mid-season and took up a drive in the TCR International Series where he won on his debut weekend in Thailand.
“There is some unfinished business for me after I had to leave the WTCC so I am happy to come back to the WTCR where there will be a lot of drivers and a really good level,” he said.
“Last season was my first in front-wheel drive and it was really difficult to adapt, so for sure I am better than 12 months ago. I had a good feeling in TCR and I’m a bit lucky in that I know a lot of the circuits used during the first half of the season when other drivers don’t. I have a good team and a good car so there’s no reason why I can’t win some races.”
Images via FIA WTCR Media