Fanatec GT Europe back inaction with 55-car grid for Monza opener

Fanatec GT Europe back inaction with 55-car grid for Monza opener

Biggest season-opening field in seven years set for three-hour Fanatec GT Endurance Cup contest
Eight elite automotive brands represented across five highly competitive classes
Varied support line-up, giant TV screen and Saturday evening pit walk enhance fan experience 


The 2023 Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS campaign will launch in spectacular style next weekend (21–23 April) when a 55-car field tackles a three-hour Endurance Cup contest at Monza.


The Italian venue is set to welcome the biggest season-opening grid since 2016, with eight prestigious brands featured on a varied entry list. The contenders are spread across five classes, highlighted by 17-car fields in both the Pro and Bronze Cup categories and competitive line-ups in the Gold Cup, Silver Cup and Pro-Am. Monza will also see the Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series begin its third season of competition, with real-world points now on offer for Pro, Gold Cup and Silver Cup crews. 


Sunday's headline race will be further complemented by a trio of high-level support series, a brand-new esports contest in the on-site Fanatec Arena and a Saturday evening pit walk, providing fans with a wealth of action both on and off the circuit. It marks a popular return for the legendary Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, which is back on the calendar to kick off the hotly anticipated 2023 campaign. 


 
All-star Pro field gunning for victory at historic Temple of Speed
The big question heading into 2023 is whether anyone can stop the Mercedes-AMG juggernaut. The German marque enjoyed a sensational 2022 that included a one-two finish at the CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa and a Fanatec GT Endurance Cup title sweep. Defending champion Akkodis ASP will field a pair of Pro crews this term, with Raffaele Marciello and Jules Gounon joined in the flagship #88 by Timur Boguslavskiy. 


The sister #87 machine is anchored by Maxi Götz, who will run his first full Fanatec GT Endurance Cup campaign since 2018, alongside Thomas Drouet and Lorenzo Ferrari. AMG Team AlManar Racing by GetSpeed has a trio of factory drivers at its disposal, with long-time teammates Maro Engel and Luca Stolz joined by recently promoted Fabian Schiller in the #777. 


BMW can count on more Pro cars than any other brand. A pair of M4 GT3 entries come from the Bavarian marque's new partner, Team WRT, which will field the #32 for Dries Vanthoor, Charles Weerts and Sheldon van der Linde and the #46 for Valentino Rossi, Maxime Martin and Augusto Farfus. Long-time BMW squad Rowe Racing brings two more entries: the experienced crew of Philipp Eng, Marco Wittmann and Nick Yelloly share the #98, while youngsters Dan Harper, Max Hesse and Neil Verhagen form an unchanged line-up in the #998.


Ferrari heads into 2023 with an aggressive new model. The Maranello marque's 296 GT3 will make its series debut under the guidance of brand expert AF Corse, which has a pair of Pro crews on the entry list for its home event. All six drivers are drawn from the brand's Competizioni division, with Alessandro Pier Guidi, Davide Rigon and Antonio Fuoco sharing the #71, and Nicklas Nielsen, Alessio Rovera and newcomer Robert Shwartzman aboard the #51. 


Lamborghini also unleashes a new weapon this term with its Huracán GT3 EVO2. Iron Lynx has joined the roster and can count on the all-star crew of Mirko Bortolotti, Andrea Caldarelli and Jordan Pepper in its #63 machine. American heavyweight K-PAX Racing adds yet more firepower with Marco Mapelli, Franck Perrera and Sandy Mitchell sharing the #6. 


Italian outfit Dinamic Motorsport won the previous two visits to Monza in 2019 and 2021. Now reborn as Dinamic GT Huber Racing, its #54 Porsche should be a contender once again with the ace line-up of Christian Engelhart, Sven Müller and Ayhancan Güven. Series newcomer Rutronik Racing will also field the new 911 GT3 R for the rapid trio of Thomas Preining, Dennis Olsen and Laurin Heinrich. 

Audi Sport machinery is traditionally strong at Monza, so we can expect its trio of Pro cars to feature at the front. Saintéloc Junior Team has every chance of victory with its accomplished crew of Chris Mies, Patric Niederhauser and Simon Gachet, while debutant Comtoyou Racing is equally well equipped with Christopher Haase, Frédéric Vervisch and Gilles Magnus at the wheel. The new Tresor Orange1 programme, which will run in collaboration with Attempto Racing, adds another potential winner with its all-factory line-up of Mattia Drudi, Ricardo Feller and Dennis Marschall.


Garage 59 completes the Pro field with its new spec 720S Evo. Factory ace Marvin Kirchhöfer leads the line, joined by rising stars Benji Goethe and Nicolai Kjaergaard. Such is the intense level of competition this term, each of the 17 Pro crews on the Monza entry list can aim for at least a podium finish – but only one can kick off the new campaign with a victory.

Young talents and experienced campaigners among competitive Gold Cup and Silver Cup classes
A total of 16 cars will compete across the Gold and Silver Cup classes at Monza, with plenty of rising stars and a handful of highly experienced drivers among the entrants. Seven crews will tackle the new Gold category, led by a pair of entries from the Winward Racing squad. The #57 Mercedes-AMG will feature the established trio of Ward/Dontje/Ellis, while young hopefuls Marius Zug, Miklas Born and David Schumacher share the #157. 


Audi representation comes from the new Boutsen VDS alliance, which fields the #9 machine for Eteki/Panis/Di Folco, while debutant Comtoyou Racing partners former Bentley factory driver Maxime Soulet with youngsters Nicolas Baert and Max Hofer in its #12 entry. Optimum Motorsport should be a contender with its striking red and black McLaren, which combines British drivers Sam De Haan, Charlie Fagg and Dean MacDonald. A pair of heavyweight squads complete the Gold Cup grid, with Team WRT fielding the #30 BMW for Williams/Krütten/Simmenauer and Iron Lynx entrusting its #19 Lamborghini to Ineichen/Beretta/Pulcini


In the Silver Cup, Bullitt Racing adds an Aston Martin to the Monza entry list. Romain Leroux, Jacob Riegel and Jeff Kingsley will share the #33 Vantage for what will be the Spanish squad's series debut. Grasser Racing made its first Fanatec GT Endurance Cup start a decade ago and the Lamborghini outfit is back for more in 2023, fielding the #58 for Neary/Capo/Crestani and the #85 for Schmid/Hites/Van Berlo. Dinamic GT Huber Racing unleashes its #56 Porsche for the trio of Sathienthirakul/Rappange/Di Amato, while Madpanda Motorsport will field its familiar #90 Mercedes-AMG with Companc/Nesov/Gustavsen sharing the wheel. 


A quartet of Audi crews complete the Silver Cup field for Monza. Sainteloc Junior Team will run the all-French line-up of Bastard/Demoustier/Evrard in its #26 machine, while Boutsen VDS has Cola/Gazeau/Meyuhas in the #10 car. Comtoyou Racing can count on the trio of Dejonghe/Hezemans/Hutchison, while Tresor Attempto Racing should be a strong contender with its rapid young crew of Aka/Patrese/Delli Guanti.

Bronze Cup draws impressive 17-car field, Pro-Am battle remains competitive
The Bronze Cup has proven a major hit with teams this term, attracting a 17-car field to compete for victory at Monza. The grid includes several successful crews, not least the #52 AF Corse entry which sees multiple Pro-Am champions Louis Machiels and Andrea Bertolini joined by the former's son Jef. Initially, they will use the previous-generation 488 GT3. BMW is well represented by crews from accomplished squads Team WRT (#31: Whale/Carroll/Proctor) and Walkenhorst Motorsport (#35: Buchardt/Neubauer/Kell).


The Iron Dames trio of Bovy/Gatting/Frey have joined the Bronze Cup field with their #83 Lamborghini, while French outfit AGS Events will also field the new Huracán GT3 EVO2 for Gorini/Borga/Jamin. Garage 59 adds yet more pedigree to the field with its #159 McLaren (Ramos/Chaves/Prette) while Sky Tempesta Racing will also run the new 720S GT3 Evo for its familiar line-up of Froggatt/Hui/Cheever. 


In terms of numbers, Porsche dominates the Bronze Cup grid with five entries. Two of them are series newcomers, with CLRT (#44: Mateu/Palette/Chevalier) and Pure Rxcing (#911: Malykhin/Strum/Bachler) both targeting strong starts at Monza. Dinamic GT Huber Racing (#55: Sager/Barker/Nakken) and Herberth Motorsport (#91: Bohn/A. Renauer/R. Renauer) will also campaign the new 911 GT3 R, while Team Parker Racing returns to the Fanatec GT Endurance Cup grid with the British trio of Pierce/Evans/Jewiss. 


CSA Racing is another series newcomer and will field an Audi for Erwin Creed, Arthur Rougier and a to-be-confirmed Silver driver. Tresor Attempto Racing will also represent the Ingolstadt marque with its crew of Mukovoz/Galbiati/Pereira, while a trio of Mercedes-AMG squads complete the Gold Cup contingent. GetSpeed brings together Scholze/Assenheimer/Peroni in the #3, while Haupt Racing Team has the trio of Haupt/Baud/Maini in its #79 entry. Finally, Theeba Motorsport will make its series debut with the #81 entry. Team owner Reema Juffali has committed to the full season with her squad, joined at Endurance rounds by Ralf Aron and Alain Valente.


A further five cars will compete in the Pro-Am class, which retains its familiar Pro-Bronze-Bronze driver categorisation. Barwell Motorsport will compete with its successful #78 Lamborghini, which brings together a strong crew of Balon/Collard/Lind. Car Collection Motorsport has switched marques from Audi to Porsche and will run the experienced trio of Jacoma/Leutwiler/Fontana in its #24 machine. 


ST Racing with Rinaldi debuts with team owner Samantha Tan joined by Jon Miller and Isaac Tutumlu in the #38 Ferrari, while GetSpeed has the #2 Mercedes-AMG of Bergstein/Walker/Lewandowski. BMW Italia Ceccato Racing completes the grid, making a one-off appearance with the #15 trio of Comandini/Cassarà/Guerra in its M4 GT3.

Live coverage of the Monza event begins with Saturday's Free Practice session and will be available across a variety of online platforms, including the GT World YouTube channel, series website and SRO Twitch channel. As ever, fans can watch free of charge on this non-geo-blocked stream. Commentary will be available in English, French, German and Italian. 


TIMETABLE

Friday 21 April
17:00 - 18:00: Bronze Test

Saturday 22 April
09:00 - 10:30: Free Practice
13:40 - 15:10: Pre-Qualifying
18:00 - 19:00: Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series Race

Sunday 23 April
09:00 - 10:00: Qualifying
15:00 - 18:00: Race


SUPPORT SERIES

Fanatec GT2 European Series (2x 50-minute races)
GT4 European Series (2x 60-minute races)
Clio Cup Series (2x 25-minute +1 lap races)
SRO Esports Sim Pro Series (60-minute virtual race)

STATS & FACTS

• With 55 cars confirmed, Monza will host the largest grid for a season-opening race since 2016.

• Audi is the best-represented brand with 11 cars, followed by Mercedes-AMG (10) and Porsche (9). 

• Seven teams are set to make their first-ever Fanatec GT Europe appearance: Bullitt Racing, CLRT, Comtoyou Racing, CSA Racing, Pure Rxcing, Theeba Motorsport and BMW Italia Ceccato Racing.

• In addition, two teams make their first appearance outside the CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa: Rutronik Racing and ST Racing with Rinaldi.

• There will be five women on the grid at Monza, the most for any race outside the CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa. Reema Juffali (Theeba Motorsport) and Samantha Tan (ST Racing with Rinaldi) make their full-season debuts, while Iron Dames retains its full 2022 crew of Bovy/Gatting/Frey.

• Dinamic Motorsport (now Dinamic GT Huber Racing) won the previous two events at Monza in 2021 and 2019. Grasser Racing also has two overall wins (2015 and 2017), while Team WRT (2018) and Garage 59 (2016) have each taken one victory each. Marc VDS, which returns to the series alongside Boutsen Racing, triumphed in 2012. 

• Among the drivers, 10 have previously secured an overall win at Monza, with Christian Engelhart (2017 & 2021) and Klaus Bachler (2019 & 2021) both doing so twice. 

• Overall wins by brand: Porsche (3), Lamborghini (2), McLaren (2), Audi (1), BMW (1), Ferrari (1).

• Classes by numbers: 17 Pro; 17 Bronze; 9 Silver; 7 Gold; 5 Pro-Am.

• Series lap record: 1m46.442s (Jules Gounon, #88 Mercedes-AMG, 2021).


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