The Vitaphone Racing squad will make its FIA GT Series debut this weekend at Navarra with a driver lineup including former grand prix driver Karun Chandhok.
Vitaphone was a frontrunner in the final iteration of the FIA GT1 World Championship in 2012 with its fleet of BMW Z4s (pictured), but its attempts to rejoin the championship in its latest incarnation were previously thwarted by a lack of finance.
Now, team boss Michael Bartels has put together a deal for Chandhok and Yelmer Buurman to drive a solo Vitaphone entry at Navarra and, potentially, the final round of the series on the streets of Baku in Azerbaijan.
Bartels, whose team has focused on the Blancpain Endurance Series in 2013, said: “The Blancpain is finished now and this was an opportunity to extend our programme this year.”
Chandhok is moving over from the Seyffarth Mercedes team, which has ended its FIA GT program because of sponsorship problems.
“I wasn’t very happy with the way things were going at Seyffarth and then they pulled the plug anyway,” he explained. “Stephane [Ratel, series boss] introduced me to Michael Bartels and the deal went from there.”
Navarra also marks Buurman’s return to Vitaphone in the international arena after finishing a close second in GT1 World last year. The Dutchman, who raced with Marc VDS in Blancpain this year, has retained close links with Vitaphone, undertaking testing with the team and two ADAC GT Masters races in Germany.
The British VonRyan Racing team will make its FIA GT debut with an entry for one of its McLaren MP4-12s driven by Duncan Tappy and Gregoire Demoustier, who race for the team in the British GT Championship.
Team boss Dave Ryan said: “Gregoire and Duncan were very happy with their third place at Brands Hatch [in August] and asked us to look to see if it was possible to do Navarra.”