After more than 20 years behind the wheel of a variety of four-wheeled machines, Austrian driver Alexander Wurz will retire from competitive racing at the end of the 2015 season, once the last FIA World Endurance Championship event, the 6 Hours of Bahrain, receives the chequered flag.
Wurz was and important part of the current Toyota Gazoo Racing program, achieving five wins in four seasons as a Toyota factory driver, with the highlight being the first season, in 2012, where the Japanese got three wins. Wurz entered the Japanese program as not only a endurance racing specialist, as well as a Le Mans 24 Hours expert, winning the famous French race two times, first with Joest Racing in 1996 and with Peugeot Sport in 2009, one of the rare moments in the last decade where Audi’s dominance was broken.
Outside of the sportscar world, he had also a good spell in Formula 1, driving for Benetton, and then being the test driver for McLaren, Williams, Honda and Brawn GP. In F1 he was also known by becoming competitive in a short time, as in his rookie year in Benetton he achieved a third place finish as his best position, as well in his comeback to competition with McLaren in a one-off San Marino GP podium, also finishing in third.
The 41-year old Austrian had his share of GT racing too, being part of the innaugural season of Mercedes AMG in the FIA GT Championship, where he achieved a victory at Donington Park and two second place finishes, at Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps.
Below is the statement about the retirement of Alexander Wurz:
“After 12 years as a race and third driver in F1, I was lucky to indulge a passion for Le Mans Prototype racing for a further 8 seasons. That means I’ve enjoyed half of my lifetime competing at the top of motorsport and another quarter of it working my way up there, so I feel the time is right to call it a day and bring my career as a professional racing driver to a close.
I’ve a lot to be grateful for and a lot I’m proud of. My two Le Mans wins will always be the most special and unforgettable, along with the Silverstone podium in my 3rd Formula 1 race. In F1, I feel hugely privileged to have driven for top F1 teams like Benetton, McLaren and Williams, and added a bit of silverware to their trophy cabinets. I loved the testing and development work, collaborating with the engineers to find ever more performance.
LMP1 brought some epic battles and crushing retirements. Nothing beats the Le Mans podiums, but the Sebring 12h, Petit Le Mans and securing Toyotas first WEC victory were pretty special too.
Endurance racing, especially Le Mans, has to be one of the harshest sports. I’ve lead most of the Le Mans 24h races I have raced in. But it was our 15 hour lead in last year’s race that ended with retirement that had to be the hardest. I’d put so much effort into 2014 and into the race preparation that I found it very difficult to move on after the DNF.
In previous years, such a defeat made me come back stronger, ready to launch into the fight again, but not that time. This was the moment I knew that my time at the sharp end was coming to a natural end. The WEC Bahrain 6 hrs will mark this end.
So a big thanks to the racing community for the challenges, the battles and the victories, and to the fans, the teams, the competitors, the organisers, the volunteers and especially to my family!
My future will still evolve around racing, it’s in my blood after all. Anyone who knows me, knows that I always have lots of projects on the go which includes growing my road safety and race track design business.
You will still see me around, just without the overalls.
We wish you luck in everything you may do in the future Alex!
PHOTOS: Toyota Gazoo Racing, Peugeot Sport, Grandprix.com