After a long off-season, Thierry is eager to get back in the race seat. Thierry is making the step up to DTM in a double program racing both DTM and GT World Challenge Sprint. Thierry is excited to team up with Verstappen.com Racing again, building on his relationship and commitment to Verstappen.com. Thierry will be racing for Emil Frey Racing in the new Ferrari 296 GT3 car.
Returning to Europe after the great results of both the sprint and endurance races held in the Middle East, Thierry only had one thing on his mind… 2022. To allow the right decision to be made, Raymond and Jos decided to really make Thierry’s pace visible in a GT3 car. He had to compete in a race against the best drivers. Thierry competed in the 9h of Kylami, which is part of the Intercontinental GT3 championship, a championship which is predominantly driven by factory drivers. In this championship, constructors fight for the title. Thierry competed in an AM car which meant it would be simply impossible for him to fight for the overall win. However, it would be great to gain more experience in the GT3 car while still having a look at his pace compared to the other drivers. He competed in this race with the Audi R8 GT3 run by WRT. He was able to claim victory in the GT3 AM class. Jos, Raymond and Thierry knew that from there on, GT3 was the way forward. Discussions with several teams took place, and through a collective decision among the three of them, they decided to commit to Car Collection to compete in the ADAC GT Masters championship. ADAC GT Masters is seen as one of the most competitive GT sprint championships in the world, known for its close battle. They believed that Car Collection had the right spirit to allow Thierry to learn and hopefully get the most out of the 2022 season. Car Collection paired Thierry with Mattia Drudi, an Audi factory driver and considered a real ‘young gun’. Drudi had passed a very similar route as Thierry, competing for several years with the Porsche Cup Car, which was great for Thierry as Mattia could support Thierry’s jump to the GT3 car, as he had the knowledge and experience from experiencing this route himself. For the 2022 season, Thierry also joined forces with Verstappen.com and became a part of Verstappen.com Racing, an initiative founded and managed by Max Verstappen’s passion for racing. 2022 proved a season of highs and lows for Thierry. The ruthless competition of the championship left no margin for error, and luck was not always on 33 cars’ side. A mixture of tire blowouts and mechanical failures gave way to multiple DNFs throughout the season; however, when everything went right for Thierry, he executed. Securing a P2 finish in his home race in Zandvoort and fighting his way through the pack with lightning pace in Hockenheim, Thierry proved he had what it took to fight at the front. All in all, 2022 has laid down a great GT3 foundation from which he will build into what will be an exciting 2023.
2021 was going to be an important year where the mindset changed, and Thierry knew it was a year where they had to shine and show people around him that it was more than a hobby and that this was worth it. The decision was made, and Thierry was going to compete in the Carrera Cup Benelux, which is a one-make series which would be competing with the brand-new 992 Cup car. The arrival of the new car made this a very competitive championship. In order to prepare for the season, Jos Verstappen and Thierry had planned many test days together, and they would practice the race craft, as this was one of Thierry’s main weaknesses. The season started on a low as the first few rounds didn’t come with any good results and several DNFs. This was good for Thierry as these were his first experiences with proper racing, and this for sure boosted his learning curve. Throughout the season, Thierry started picking up his first podiums, one win and two pole positions. However, there were still too many mistakes made. Track time and mostly race time was essential for Thierry; this is why Jos and Raymond decided that it would be good for Thierry to compete in endurance racing, this is when Thierry did the 12h of Hockenheim, 24h of Barcelona and at the end of the season, he competed in the 24h of Dubai which is seen as a very competitive 24h race with over 80 cars in competition. During this race, Thierry managed to put it on pole position, and the team was leading until there was some damage to the car. Thierry ended the race in P2, which was still a great team effort. These endurance races helped Thierry to keep developing his race skills and gain as much experience as possible. With the same spirit, Thierry entered the Sprint Challenge Middle East, which is a Porsche racing series which continues during the European winter months. The Middle Eastern climate and competition allowed Thierry to keep developing his skills and stay in the rhythm for the 2022 season. In this championship, Thierry managed to achieve several podiums and many great battles with drivers from all over the world. However, during the 2021 season, Thierry, Jos and Raymond started to doubt whether the Porsche career route was the most suitable for Thierry. During the season, Thierry struggled to adapt to the Cup car’s unique braking system. When this was taken out of the equation, Thierry seemed much more confident and was able to focus fully on battling. This is when discussions started to take place to make a switch to a GT3 car. The first tests were held in Dubai just after the 24h of Dubai. Thierry immediately showed great pace with the Audi GT3. Nonetheless, they decided to stay committed to the Middle East Championship, where Thierry continued to improve his race craft which would be essential for 2022…
Thierry had left the local Genk go-kart track, but the idea of racing never left his brain for even a second. His opportunity to have his first test day in a car came in 2020 when Jos Verstappen had planned a test day in the GT4 with GP-Elite in Portimao, this is where the project really got started. Thierry was constantly improving and getting to grips with the Cayman GT4. This is when Raymond, his father, decided to do more tests in a GT4 and later made the commitment for Thierry’s first season competing in the Sprint Challenge Benelux. This is where Thierry started developing his first racing skills. Together with Jos and the team, they continued testing throughout the season. This was essential as Thierry had zero race experience, which could be seen in his race craft. The season went well, winning the GT4 title and getting as much experience as possible. Raymond, Thierry’s father, knew that in order to get the maximum out of Thierry, they had to see what Thierry’s potential was and which car/championship could bring him there in the best and fastest way. After the season, Thierry tested with many different teams and cars, as Jos believed this would help him improve his way of communicating within teams and his capability to adapt to different cars. During the winter tests, Thierry had tested GT4s, 991 Cup cars, and Formula 4’s. This is when Jos, Raymond and Thierry had to make the decision for the 2021 season.
As a young teenager, Thierry couldn’t talk about anything but cars, no matter with whom or where all he would talk and think about were cars. Mainly the faster ones….
This is one of the reasons Jos Verstappen kept initiating to give Thierry a go-kart, especially now that Max had left go-karting and was competing in FIA Formula 3. Raymond & Simone (Thierry’s parents) were never a fan of the plan, knowing Thierry would most likely be addicted to it after his out lap. After a lot of convincing by Jos, Thierry got his parents to give him an opportunity to try an old Rotax Junior kart. On a cold winter day in 2014, Jos and Thierry headed to Genk. This was his first experience with any sort of motor vehicle. It wasn’t a great success as Thierry didn’t fully understand that you had to warm up the tires, especially on such a cold winter day. This situation is still remembered by Thierry “I remember leaving the pits and spinning every 10 meters as the tires had zero temperature and neither did. I didn’t have any idea how to warm them up. After my first lap, which took me about 5 minutes… Jos ran onto the track, lifted the rear of the go-kart and helped me warm up the tires”.
From here on, Thierry had a great day at Genk together with his mechanic, family friend and coach, Jos Verstappen. Coming home later that day with a big smile, he tried to convince his parents to get him his own go-kart; however, they knew this would be a financial and time commitment they didn’t want to make. But Jos told him that if he would be below the 1-minute lap times with Max’s old Rotax Junior kart, he would buy Thierry a brand new Rotax kart. This meant that Thierry couldn’t stop talking or thinking about karting; all he wanted to do is go to Genk and hit the track, trying to get below the 1-minute benchmark. This goal was achieved, and from here on, Thierry had his own go-kart (2015-2017). The idea of driving in races never took off as Thierry moved houses in early 2017, and his parents insisted that school was a priority. He believed that if he worked hard and paid attention in school, his time on track would come.