ALEX WURZ NAMED GRAND MARSHAL OF THE 2016 LE MANS 24 HOURS
In 2016 Alex Wurz will follow in the footsteps of Henri Pescarolo, Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen as the Grand Marshal of the 84th Le Mans 24 Hours.
Austrian Alexander Wurz began his sporting career on two wheels (without an engine!). In 1986 he won the BMX World Championship and filled the runner-up spot in the European Championship. He then climbed up the different steps on the motor racing ladder over a 10-year period starting with karts followed by Formula Ford and Formula 3.
On Sunday 16th June 1996 Wurz’s sporting destiny was turned upside down. On his maiden outing in the Le Mans 24 Hours he won the race with American Davy Jones and Manuel Reuter from Germany at the wheel of a TWR-Joest Porsche. This success opened the door of Formula 1 to him, and he raced in 69 grands prix for Benetton and Williams as well as doing a long stint at McLaren as a test driver.
In 2008, he was back in the Sarthe in a Peugeot seeing the chequered flag in fifth place with Pedro Lamy and Stéphane Sarrazin. The following year he won the race for the second time in a Peugeot shared with David Brabham and Marc Gené, 13 years after his first victory. Wurz drove for the French make for another two years scoring two more major victories, the Sebring 12 Hours in 2010 and the Petit Le Mans in 2011.
In 2012, the Austrian was the first driver recruited by Toyota when the Japanese car company decided to make its Le Mans and world endurance championship comeback. The same year he scored the make’s first victory in the world championship with Nicolas Lapierre in the Sao Paulo 6 Hours followed by two more wins in the Fuji and Shanghai 6 Hours. He came first again at Fuji the following year. He started the 2014 Le Mans 24 Hours from pole (set by his team-mate, Kazuki Nakajima) in the TS040 Hybrid and led the race for 15 hours backed up by the Japanese and Frenchman Stéphane Sarrazin. But this time Lady Luck didn’t smile on him and he was forced to retire at 05h00 on Sunday morning. The Austrian driver hung up his helmet on 21st November after the Bahrain 6 Hours, the final round of the 2015 WEC.
His Sarthe score card reads: eight starts, two victories (1996 and 2009), two fourth places (2011 and 2013), and an eighth place (2015) and three retirements (2010, 2012 and 2015).
Today 41-year-old Wurz, married with three children, is an ambassador for the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) and president of the GPDA (Grand Prix Drivers Association).
As Grand Marshal Alex will have the privilege of driving the pace car, the official vehicle that leads the drivers during the formation lap and pulls off at the end of that lap when the French flag is lowered to unleash the pack. He will also be present at the various events organised during the Le Mans 24-Hours week.