Charouz Racing System is ready for success no matter which name it bears
Charouz Racing System is a racing team from the Czech Republic, founded in 1985 by Antonin Charouz, which currently competes in the World Series Formula V8 3.5 under the banner of Lotus. The team entered the Formula Renault 3.5 Series in 2011, being the regular entrant since then.
Previously, besides participating in many national competitions, the team had lots of success in different international sportscar racing and single-seater racing championships, such were Le Mans Series, FIA GT3 European Championship or F3000 International Masters. The team reached the top in 2009, winning a championship title in the Le Mans Series. At 24 hours of Le Mans, Charouz Racing participated three times, finishing best in the fourth place in 2009 with Aston Martin LMP1 prototype.
Jan Charouz won the first international title in 2006
During the 1980s, Antonin Charouz (born 1954) was participating mostly in the touring car races, entering also the World Touring Car Championship with Toyota Corolla GT in 1987. In the same year, his son Jan was born.
Nineteen years later, in 2006, Jan Charouz recorded his first international success, winning the F3000 International Masters series. He was driving the #11 car for Charouz Racing System, along five other drivers in the #10 car (Jarek Janis, Filip Salaquarda, Vitaly Petrov, Tomas Kostka and Luis Razia). In 16 races, the team won ten times. Jan Charouz was the race winner two times, taking his first championship title in a career.
Three seasons in the A1 Grand Prix series
Before entering the F3000 competition, Jan Charouz participated in the opening round of the inaugural A1 Grand Prix series, in September 2005 at Brands Hatch. Charouz Racing System was an operational team for the A1 Team Czech Republic. For the rest of the season, which ended in April 2006, Tomaš Enge was driving for the team. He won the season-closing race at Shanghai International Circuit and the team finished 12th in the points.
In the second season of the A1 Grand Prix series, which began in October 2006 and finished in April 2007, Charouz was running two teams – the Czech Republic and Brazil. In total, four Brazilian and five Czech drivers were driving for the team, not scoring wins. The Czech team finished 12th in the points, Brazilians were 18th. In the third A1 GP season (2007/2008), Charouz was running again only as a Czech team, using services of four drivers. Without wins, they finished 19th in the points.
Le Mans Series and Le Mans 24h debut in 2007
In 2007, Antonin Charouz put the team in something completely new – the Le Mans Series and 24 hours of Le Mans. They competed with #15 Lola B07/17-Judd LMP1 prototype. In six races, team’s best result was second place in Valencia, behind Peugeot’s factory team. The drivers were Jan Charouz, Stefan Mücke and Alex Yoong. After six rounds, the team finished fifth in the points.
At 24 hours of Le Mans, Charouz, Mücke and Yoong finished 8th overall and 5th in the LMP1 class.
Cooperation with Aston Martin since 2008
For the 2008 Le Mans Series season, the team entered a cooperation with Aston Martin Racing and Prodrive, running a new Lola B08/60 LMP1 prototype with Aston Martin’s 6.0L V12 engine. Jan Charouz and Stefan Mücke were the full-time drivers again, finishing fifth in the points for the second year in a row. In five races, they were on a podium two times, at Circuit de Catalunya and Silverstone.
At 24 hours of Le Mans, the #10 Lola-Aston Martin finished in the 9th place, driven by Jan Charouz, Stefan Mücke and Tomaš Enge. The team also fielded old Lola-Judd under its name, but the car was run by Greg Pickett’s Team Cytosport and Sam Hignett’s Team Jota, not finishing the race.
Le Mans Series champions in 2009
Charouz Racing System reached the peak in the Le Mans Series in 2009, winning the championship title. Driving the #007 Lola-Aston Martin under the banner of AMR Eastern Europe, Jan Charouz, Tomaš Enge and Stefan Mücke finished every race on the podium, including two wins, en route to the LMP1 championship.
At 2009 Le Mans 24h, the team recorded the best ever result in the endurance classic, finishing in the fourth place overall, behind two factory-entered Peugeots 908s and one Audi R15 TDI.
One season in the Auto GP series
The cooperation between Charouz and Aston Martin ended in 2009, so the team focused again to single-seater racing in 2010. Under the name Charouz-Gravity Racing, the team fielded four cars in the Auto GP series, the former Euroseries 3000 which changed its name in 2010.
In total, eight drivers were driving for the team, with Jan Charouz and Adrien Tambay as full-time drivers. Tambay was the race winner once, finishing sixth in the final standings. Charouz was fourth in the points at the end of the season.
Competing in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series since 2011
In 2011, Gravity-Charouz Racing entered the Formula Renault 3.5 Series, running two cars for Jan Charouz and Brendon Hartley. The New Zealander scored three podiums to finish seventh in the points. The team also finished in the seventh place.
For the 2012 Formula Renault 3.5 Series season, Charouz Racing joined forces with Lotus.
Racing as Lotus team since 2012
In the first season with Lotus name on its car, the Czech team started a year with two cars for Marco Sorensen and Richie Stanaway. Sorensen spent a full season in the #12 car, finishing sixth in the points with one victory on his account. In another car, other drivers were Cesar Ramos, Nigel Melker and Kevin Korjus.
In 2013, Sorensen stayed with the team. He was a double winner at Red Bull Ring, finishing seventh in the final standings. Marlon Stockinger was his teammate for the full season, finishing 18th in the points.
Formula Renault 3.5 Series vice-champions in 2015
For the 2014 season, Lotus changed line-up again, retaining Marlon Stockinger in the #15 car and hiring Matthieu Vaxiviere for the #16 car. Later in the season, Richie Stanaway replaced Vaxiviere in two rounds. Although he missed two rounds, Vaxiviere was the most successful Lotus driver, finishing 8th in the points.
Both Matthieu Vaxiviere and Lotus reached the peak in 2015, finishing as vice-champions. The French driver scored three wins to finish second in the points, behind Oliver Rowland. Other drivers for Lotus were Meindert van Buuren, Marlon Stockinger and Nick Yelloly. The team finished second in the final classification, behind Fortec Motorsports.
Second place for Lotus in the 2016 Formula V8 season
One more successful season followed in 2016 when the competition was renamed to Formula V8 3.5 Series. The team finished second in the points, losing a title to Arden Motorsport. Roy Nissany and Rene Binder spent a full season with the team. Nissany was a race winner three times, finishing fourth in the points. Binder scored five podiums to finish in the seventh place.
For the 2017 Formula V8 season, Lotus retained Rene Binder and hired Pietro Fittipaldi to drive another car.