When the World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) heads to Zandvoort later in the season, a member of the Dutch royal family will race alongside the series regulars as one of two wildcard entries. Prince Bernhard van Oranje is also an experienced racing driver, having been a front-runner in the GT4 European Series.
As part of the Jumbo Racedagen motorsport festival, the Prince’s on-track presence will add further intrigue to an event which already includes a demonstration from Max Verstappen of his Red Bull Formula One car.
The team which will be supplying Prince Bernhard with a drive is Bas Koeten Racing; an outfit who have fielded TCR-spec race cars since the format’s inception back in 2015. The Dutch team will compete at Zandvoort with a pair of Audi RS3 LMS TCRs, though the second driver to be entered as a wildcard has not yet been confirmed.
Understandably, Prince Bernhard is very much looking forward to competing alongside the world’s best touring car drivers, commenting: “It is unique to participate in a World Cup event against eight former world champions. It’s ultra-close racing and we have live coverage on TV and web throughout the event. With more than 100,000 fans it’s going to be a unique experience.”
Team owner, Bas Koeten, was also delighted to confirm his team’s entry into the World Touring Car Cup as wildcards. He was also keen to commend the prince’s racecraft; something which we will hope to see the best of once he gets behind the wheel of the orange-liveried Audi (designed to honour the national colours of the Netherlands). Koeten said, “It’s a special opportunity for our team as he’s not only the Prince of Holland but he’s also the owner of Circuit Zandvoort. He has experience in many racing classes and obviously knows the circuit very well. We don’t expect to go for the podium because we know how high the level of the WTCR is with the fastest touring car drivers in the field. But he certainly won’t be 10 seconds behind the last guy.”
In reference to the car’s colour scheme, Koeten added: “People like to see the orange colours and they will like to see him in the paddock at Zandvoort because the Dutch royal family is well-known and popular in Holland.”
Another interesting detail is that the well-liked WTCR driver, Tom Coronel, has had a working relationship with Prince Bernhard van Oranje for quite some time. Providing some more insight into this, Coronel said: “I’ve been giving some lessons to Bernhard. The first time he was on a podium was with me in a long-distance race. A few years ago I promised he could drive my race car and I did that at the beginning of this season. I did 10 laps in my Honda Civic Type R TCR myself then I put him in the car. The team was quite surprised but I said ‘don’t worry, he knows what he’s doing, he likes motor racing, he knows the track and has been a race driver for 15 years’. It’s a unique and cool thing for us to have him in our championship and I want him to enjoy the ride.”
Francois Ribeiro, Head of Eurosport Events, also gave his say on the first wildcard entry to be revealed for the set of races at Zandvoort: “It’s great to welcome Prince Bernhard van Oranje into the WTCR family for what will be one of the biggest events of the season with more than 100,000 fans expected. With Max Verstappen demonstrating his Red Bull Formula One car and three WTCR races to look forward to, the Jumbo Racedagen promises to be a great occasion. And to have a member of the Dutch royal family on the grid is simply fantastic.”