Ex-Formula 1 driver and Toyota sportscar regular Alexander Wurz has announced that he will retire from racing at the end of this year’s WEC season.
The 41-year-old is a two-time winner of the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours, his two triumphs coming either side of a grand prix career that spanned 69 starts and three podium finishes.
After becoming the youngest ever Le Mans winner alongside Davy Jones and Manuel Reuter in a Joest-run TWR Porsche in 1996, Wurz was recruited by the Benetton F1 team to replace unwell fellow countryman Gerhard Berger for three races in 1997.
Taking third place in his third ever start at Silverstone, he did enough to convince the Enstone squad to sign him for 1998, impressing many observers in his first full season – not least during his famous battle with Michael Schumacher at Monaco.
This was followed immediately by a major first-corner pile-up at Canada where Wurz's car was pitched into a spectacular series of rolls - although he would go on to finish fourth in the restarted race.
But two mediocre seasons in which he was eclipsed by teammate Giancarlo Fisichella were to follow in 1999 and 2000, leading Wurz to take up a test role at McLaren in 2001, and he wouldn't return to race action until he scored his second podium deputising for Juan Pablo Montoya at Imola in 2005.
He switched to Williams in 2006, being promoted to a full race seat the following year for what would prove to be his swansong F1 campaign before returning to sportscars.
His third and final podium finish came that year in a real race of attrition at Canada, with his final points finish coming at the rain-soaked Nurburgring race later that season.
Joining the Peugeot team in 2008 alongside a Honda F1 test role, he won Le Mans for a second time in only his third start in 2009, this time alongside David Brabham and Marc Gene, and became part of Toyota’s new WEC operation in 2012 after Peugeot pulled the plug on its sportscar programme at the end of 2011.
In four seasons with Toyota, Wurz has taken five WEC victories, including two on his employers’ home turf at Fuji, and was on course for a third Le Mans win in 2014 until a burnt wiring loom ended his chances.
Last year, the Austrian also took up the role of GPDA chairman, and has worked tirelessly with the FIA to help improve safety and develop the next generation of drivers.
He also pushed hard to make the GPDA more relevant, and helped it commission the largest ever F1 Global Fan Survey earlier this year along with Motorsport.com.