Founded in 1978 by Prosper Mollekens, KTR, short for Keerbergs Transport Racing, is based in Putte, some 30 km north of Belgian capital Brussels.
The early years were successfully spent in Formula Vee and Super Vee, and by the mid-80’s the team had established itself among the leading teams in French F3. Young French hopefuls to the likes of Bernard, Comas and Panis raced for KTR before moving on to F1, while Artzet and Bouchut ensured international success in Monaco and Macau.
By 1995, Prosper Mollekens’ son Kurt had successfully graduated through the junior single-seater categories, and joined the family team, in collaboration with Alan Docking, for an assault on the British F3 championship. Following a promising learning year, Kurt won the prestigious Marlboro Masters of F3 on his way to the runner-up spot in the British F3 Championship in 1996.
This success led to the team’s next move up into the international FIA F3000 championship. After running a single-car entry in 1997, a collaboration with Christian Horner’s Arden team netted Mollekens several podium and points finishes on his way to an eventual 6th in the 1998 final standings.
In 1999 Kurt Mollekens sacrificed his single-seater career to take over the KTR team management. Under the ‘Spirit of Belgium’ label, KTR allowed talented young Belgians Leinders, Van Hooydonk and Olivier to move into F3000. Leinders scored several podiums on his way to 7th in the 2001 standings.
When the World Series by Nissan were created in 2002, KTR decided to switch from the expensive FIA F3000 to this new-born series. Leinders followed suit and was a title contender for most of the season, before contenting himself with 3rd place in the final rankings, behind F1 testers Zonta and Montagny. More success followed with Porteiro and Jouanny among others in the next two years, before Renault took over the series from 2005 onwards, revamping it as the World Series by Renault.
Gommendy and Van Lagen ensured instant success for the team in the WSR’s top category, Formula Renault 3.5. Several wins and podiums led both drivers to 4th and 9th respectively in the 2005 ranking, classifying KTR 3rd in the team standings. More success followed in the next three years thanks to the exceptional talent of drivers such as McIntosh, Kerr, Moreau and Baguette.
In 2009 KTR unfortunately fell victim to the global economic crisis and decided for the first time since its creation to take a step back, switching to the Formula Renault 2.0 category. It did so with great success, as Danish hopeful Mikkel Mac won several races on his way to the runner-up spot in the 2010 North European Cup.
KTR expanded into the FR2.0 Eurocup in 2011, in combination with a continued NEC participation. With the support of the RACB, the team successfully ran Belgium’s hottest single-seater talent for long, Stoffel Vandoorne, to 3rd and 5th place in the final standings of the NEC and Eurocup. Teammates on a more limited program included Stuart, Van Buuren and Hill, with the latter especially demonstrating that racing talent is hereditary.
A collaboration with karting giant Tony Kart was agreed for 2012, with Mr Robazzi placing its KF1 karting prodigies D’Agosto and Kanamaru on a two-year Eurocup program with the team. Weckström and Colomé shared the team’s third car in 2012, while Lotus F1 entrusted KTR with its Junior driver Alexander Albon for 2013.
Lotus prolonged its faith in the team into 2014, placing another junior driver, Gregor Ramsay, alongside Albon. Jules Gounon started the year with the team but was soon forced to cut his season short. He was replaced by Lotus’ South-African F1 hopeful, Callan O’Keeffe.