WTCR tip for the top: #5 Gilles Magnus
Of the 29 drivers who raced in the 2020 WTCR − FIA World Touring Car Cup, 13 were age 25 or under. Flying the flag of the Belgian ASN’s RACB National Team initiative, Comtoyou Racing Audi driver Gilles Magnus, 21, was one of the best of the bunch through his capture of the FIA WTCR Rookie Driver Award.
From indoors to the big outdoors: “My family all had the same passion for racing, we started when we were quite young doing indoor karting and outdoor karting. My brother got some nice results in karting, although he didn’t continue, he put some fire in me because you always want to compete against your brother. I was about eight years old when we started and had to drive with the slower karts, the kids karts, but I didn’t like that. I didn’t have the height to go to the bigger karts but finally, after some discussions with the indoor karting people, they let me in the big karts and I remember the speed was magnificent. This was the moment when I thought I want to grow in the sport and do this all my life. They were only going 50 but it felt like 300kph.”
A force in Formula 4: Graduating to outdoor karting aged 11 as the 2010 Belgian Indoor Karting champion, Magnus switched to circuit racing in 2016 and entered the French Formula 4 Championship. He took a podium treble during his second weekend on the Pau street circuit and won at Le Mans, all new tracks which he was able to master thanks to his ability to “adapt real quick to new situations”.
Fast and brave: Magnus was equally successful in Formula Renault 2.0 NEC in 2017, when he demonstrated a tremendous resilience during the Spa-Francorchamps round. After crashing at Raidillon at nearly 200kph in the first race following contact with a rival, Magnus was unconscious for two minutes, badly bruised and nursing a break in his upper leg. Mindful the title would be lost if he couldn’t race the next day, Magnus fought through the pain barrier, while his mechanics worked through the night to build up a new chassis. Heroically he won to keep his title dream alive up until the Hockenheim finale, only to lose out by two points following a tough season-closer with an older, uncompetitive chassis.
Big win: Magnus was one of 500 applicants for the RACB National Team touring car scholarship for the 2019 and 2020 seasons. Le Mans 24 Hours legend Tom Kristensen was a member of the jury that picked Magnus ahead of four other finalists.
Did you know? Following a strong TCR Europe season in 2019, Magnus was called up to represent Belgium in the Touring Car Cup event that formed part of the FIA Motorsport Games. He won the silver medal courtesy of a win and a third-place finish.
|WTCR 2020 record|
|WTCR starts||16||Q1 appearances||6|
|WTCR wins||0||Q2 appearances||5|
|WTCR poles||1||Q3 appearances||3|
|WTCR fastest laps||1||Best qualifying result||1|
|WTCR laps led||0||Best race result||2|