GT World Challenge Europe Esports,Nürburgring contest
33-car grid set for fourth long-distance event of 2021 campaign
FDA Esports seeking to put championship beyond doubt at German circuit
The inaugural GT World Challenge Europe Esports Endurance Series title could be decided this weekend when the championship takes on a six-hour Assetto Corsa Competizione race at the Nürburgring.
Staged one week after the real-world series tackled the 5.1km German circuit, the fourth of five long-distance events follows last month's blue riband 24 Hours of Spa (7/8 August) where FDA Esports took a commanding victory with its Ferrari 488 GT3. The Italian outfit holds an advantage of 19 points at the top of the standings and will once again field the ace trio of Tonizza/De Salvo/Laurito at the Nürburgring.
Their main opposition is likely to come from another big-name squad: VRS Coanda Simsport. The German team headed into the 24 Hours of Spa level with FDA at the top of the Endurance Series standings, but its #18 Porsche did not emerge as a serious threat for victory and ultimately had to settle for the third step on the podium.
Yet there is reason to believe that the trio of Gkergkis/Ostgaard/Campbell can put Coanda back on top this weekend. The team earned a dominant win in the series' previous six-hour race at Circuit Paul Ricard and will now hope to rejuvenate its title bid with another victory.
Two more squads remain in the hunt for the championship. Racing Line Motorsport produced a very impressive performance at the 24 Hours Spa by taking a runner-up finish with its #191 Bentley. The crew of Siclari/Schinz/Erbrich are clearly front-runners, but with a 37-point deficit to the top of the standings they will need a strong result at the Nürburgring.
GPX Racing by Rennwelten sits one point further back after an eventful 24 Hours in which it climbed the order to a fifth-place finish following an opening lap spin. The #22 Porsche will also require a near-perfect end to the campaign if it is to challenge for the title.
In total, a grid of 33 cars will tackle this weekend's event. In addition to the FDA Esports squad, SideMax Motorworks, Kessel Racing by Racing Line and Jean Alesi Esports Academy will also compete using the Ferrari 488 GT3. The latter scored well at the opening events and will look to bounce back from an unsuccessful 24 Hours of Spa.
Porsche's pair of title contenders are joined by two more 911 GT3-R entrants. VRS Coanda Simsport has the advantage of a second front-running car thanks to its #88 crew of Collins/Krönke/Bouteloup, while the Predator Simracing by R8G team will chase its first points of the season at the Nürburgring.
YAS HEAT has been a consistent scorer for McLaren and can count on one of the grid's most experienced line-ups, while Team Rocket RJN has a pair of 10th-place finishes to its name, including a hard-fought result at the 24 Hours of Spa. Carbon Simsport and real-world squad JOTA will also run the 720S GT3, the former returning to the series after missing Spa.
Following a podium at Circuit Paul Ricard and an excellent qualifying performance at Spa, it seemed that BMW Motorsport G2 Esports would contend for victory in the 24 Hours. Their challenge faded during the opening quarter of the race and the crew of Naujoks/Kammerer/Schill will now hope to bounce back at their home venue. BMW TEAM BS+COMPETITION and Borusan Otomotiv Motorsport E-Team will also compete with the M6 GT3 this weekend.
The Aston Martin entrants showed solid pace at Spa. Williams Esports made the best of it, running third at mid-distance and finishing sixth, while SideMax Motorworks - FFS Racing was one spot back at the chequered flag. Simware.pro also showed well but fell away before the conclusion, while GTWR Academy is still hunting its first points of the campaign.
No team showed such impressive speed at Spa with so little reward as Unicorns of Love. After securing pole and leading during the early stages, the #14 Mercedes-AMG hit several problems and ultimately finished in eighth spot. Nevertheless, they remain the only AMG squad to register points this year, with Haupt Racing Team Schindler and AKKA-ASP by GTWR still chasing a strong result.
Lamborghini swept all three classes in last weekend's real-world event at the Nürburgring, which should offer inspiration to its Endurance Series representatives ahead of the virtual edition. MCW Racing Team is currently the only Lamborghini outfit with points on the board, while DV1 TRITON Racing and the two-car Ratòn Racing by QLASH effort will hope to break through this weekend.
Audi has two strong runners in Sainteloc by R8G and Odox Motorsport and it should only be a matter of time before an R8 LMS GT3 breaks into the top-10. The Honda crews have faced a challenging campaign, but Team BUSR and the two-car HPD JAS Pro Europe outfit will continue to chase gains. Finally, Lexus representatives Team Fordzilla and Emil Frey ZH-Nord Racing will compete with the popular RC F GT3.
Organised by SRO Motorsports Group in partnership with Fanatec, Kunos Simulazioni, AK Esports, Pirelli and The Sim Grid, this weekend’s Endurance Series event will be streamed live and in full on the SRO YouTube and Twitch channels, as well as the SRO Esports Facebook page. Coverage begins at 15:00 CEST on Saturday, allowing for 10 minutes of build-up before the six-hour contest goes green at 15:10.