The new partnership with the Mercedes star brand will see the entry of a car in the Pro class, with the class of the second car to be revealed at a later date. Among the highlights of the season: the centenary edition of the CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa!
The feline, whose image is now inseparable from the Boutsen VDS team, seems to be under a lucky star from now. Just over a year after making their partnership official, Count Marc van der Straten and Olivier Lainé are aiming to take the Belgian team to the next level from 2024. As a result, a new partnership with Mercedes-AMG has been formed. Accordingly, two Mercedes-AMG GT3s run throughout the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS next year. One of the cars will be entered in the Pro class including official Mercedes-AMG Performance and Junior drivers behind the wheel. It will be aiming for overall victory in the Sprint Cup and Endurance Cup, notably during the centenary edition of the CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa. The second car will compete in either the Gold Cup or the Silver Cup, depending on the categorisation of the drivers selected to take the wheel.
“I was delighted to return to the paddocks of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe in 2023, and I had a great time as part of the team led by Olivier Lainé, his wife Olivia Boutsen and their son Amaury,” confided Marc van der Straten with a broad smile. “I am proud of what we have achieved, including the title of best team in the Gold Cup class, both in the Sprint championship and in the Overall classification combining Sprint and Endurance. From the outset, OIivier and I had the idea that we would also be able to fight for the overall classification as soon as possible. So that will be the case from next year and I am delighted. Of course, the dream would be for the cat to win the 24 Hours of Spa a second time, nine years after the success with my team... It is a major challenge, but luck only favours the bold!”
After running Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II cars for two years, the Boutsen VDS team will be changing partners from 2024. “First of all, I would like to thank Audi Sport for those two years of collaboration,” confided Olivier Lainé. “However, for the future of the team, the opportunity that presented itself with Mercedes-AMG was one not to be missed. We will be entering two cars for the entire championship, including one in Pro with Mercedes-AMG Performance and Junior drivers. It is a great challenge for us, but it is also very exciting and motivating. I would like to thank Stefan Wendl, Head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing, and the entire Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing team for their confidence. We are already hard at work and we will be doing our utmost to make this collaboration a success.”
The drivers who will compete in the Mercedes-AMG GT3s sporting the famous feline logo will be announced at a later date, as the Wavre-based team is currently in the process of finalising its crews. “Of course, we will also be continuing our involvement in Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe,” Olivia Boutsen adds, “We have been active in this championship for several seasons now, and it is a perfect complement to our GT3 programme. In fact, we placed one of our crews on the final podium in the Am class last year, and we have high hopes for 2024.”
Founded in 1999, the Boutsen VDS team will be celebrating its 25th anniversary next year.
Its goal? To put the icing on a birthday cake in the shape of a star!