Daniel Gaunt will miss this weekend’s FIA World Endurance Championship return at Spa-Francorchamps with the Kiwi unable to compete due to travel complications leaving and returning to New Zealand.
What these complications are exactly remains unknown, however, the Kiwi will be replaced by Australian GT ace Nick Foster.
Foster is already in Berlin for the season finale of the Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy and therefore won’t run into any travel issues as he will head to Spa directly from Germany at the conclusion of the last race scheduled for August 13.
Foster joins Japanese amateur Nobuya Yamanaka and former Formula 1 driver Roberto Merhi in the #35 Ligier JSP217 for the six-hour event, the first run for the team post its coronavirus-induced season suspension in preparation for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Foster is no stranger to the WEC scene having contested the 2017 season in a Porsche 911 RSR in GTE-Am with the Gulf Racing squad. The 28-year-old also ran with the Eurasian team in the 2019-20 Asian Le Mans Series, scoring three consecutive podiums in Shanghai, The Bend and Sepang.
“I’m looking forward to jumping back into the LMP2 car and to have a good strong weekend in the FIA World Endurance Championship,” said Foster.
“It has been a pretty crazy year for everyone, I didn’t know what was coming up next. To be re-joining the team that first put me in the prototype and in which helped me to my first P2 podium is special.”
What remains unknown is if Gaunt will be able to return to the team in time for the 24 Hours of Le Mans later next month.
The team’s other Kiwi driver Nick Cassidy was also ruled out of the race earlier in the year and likewise also has his Le Mans debut misted in a cloud of uncertainty. Though Eurasia’s team principal Mark Goddard did affirm the squad is continuing to prepare for the famed twice-around-the-clock enduro with its original driver lineup which includes Gaunt.
“We’re fortunate in having such a talented race driver in Nick Foster available to us at such short notice,” said Goddard.
“In an ideal scenario, I would not want to call him in so late, but we are in a very fluid situation due to COVID-19 and the problems associated with the movement of people around the world.
“We at Eurasia are doing everything in our power to field a strong package and we hope that there will be no further hurdles for us to overcome over the coming week.
“Our plans for the 24 Hours of Le Mans next month remain on track, but we obviously must be mindful of the global situation.”
Brendon Hartley now becomes New Zealand’s sole representative for the Spa Six-Hour enduro with the 30-year-old reuniting with his Toyota LMP1 stablemates earlier in the month having split from his Formula E contract prematurely.
The Six-Hours of Spa makes up the sixth round in a truncated season calendar that is slated to conclude in Bahrain on November 21.