Rookie rising high: Top newcomer Magnus aims for overall WTCR title in 2021
Gilles Magnus has set his sights on winning the WTCR − FIA World Touring Car Cup outright in 2021 following his capture of the inaugural WTCR Rookie Driver award with support from the Belgian ASN’s RACB National Team initiative*.
Magnus dominated the class for drivers aged 23 or under at the start of 2020 with experience of no more than two WTCR events. But he achieved much more, entering the season finale as one of the overall title contenders and ending the WTCR Race of Aragón weekend with four outright podiums.
Magnus was fast-tracked from TCR Europe to the WTCR for 2020 by the RACB National Team talent-search scheme and challenged for a podium finish at the season-opening WTCR Race of Belgium.
After landing a breakthrough top-three at WTCR Race of Slovakia in mid-October, Magnus, 21, clinched the WTCR Rookie Driver title with one event remaining driving a Goodyear-equipped Audi RS 3 LMS for top team Comtoyou Racing.
“It’s been a really good year, much better than I would have thought or hoped for and that’s really positive,” said Magnus. “If you said to me it would be possible to win the title before the last round I would not have believed you. But it was good to have so much points before the end of the year.”
Although he was an overall title contender starting the final MotorLand Aragón weekend, Magnus insisted it was never his focus. “When it’s mathematically possible it’s possible so you had to go for it, but in a rookie year even before the end of the season, I would have been happy with the top five, even the top 10. And winning the [WTCR Rookie] title before the end of this season shows how dominant we were in this class. We showed our pace to play in the front and that’s really important.”
Of his support from the RACB, Magnus said: “I can only be grateful and thankful that they gave me this opportunity and are still supporting me. Without them I wouldn’t be here so thanks to these guys, they really do really great things with young Belgian guys like me. They give them opportunities, which otherwise they would never have, so thank you guys is all I can say.”
Magnus is now hoping to get the chance to build on his hugely impressive rookie season by winning the overall WTCR title in 2021. “If I get the opportunity to drive again in WTCR next year I will go for the title, but I’m still young and hopefully I have a long career in front of me.”
He continued: “I’ve really changed as a person this year. WTCR is something I’ve been dreaming of all my life and being here is something that really changes you in a positive way. Being competitive is even better and even how I work with the team I have improved a lot, what I’ve learned about the car because these guys go much deeper into the details.”
*Subject to the publication of the final results