Record grid lines up for Fanatec GT2 European opener at Circuit Paul Ricard

Record grid lines up for Fanatec GT2 European opener at Circuit Paul Ricard

Season four starts with 17-car entry representing five manufacturers
Up to 12 new drivers bolster ultra-competitive Pro-Am and Am classes
Five new teams join the field to fight for Fanatec GT2 success in debut campaigns

 

The stage is set for a fabulous fourth season of the Fanatec GT2 European Series Powered by Pirelli, which kicks off at Circuit Paul Ricard in France over 5/6 April, with a record grid in place for 2024.

 

Picking up from the same circuit near Le Castellet that decided the 2023 titles back in October, a total of 17 cars will return to the famous French venue to make up an exciting grid of GT2 machinery under the banner of five different manufacturers.

 

Four of those places will be taken up by entries for the new Maserati GT2, following the model’s successful debut in European competition at the same setting late last year. Fierce competition will come from race-winning rivals including Audi, KTM, Mercedes-AMG and Porsche, over two classes – Pro-Am and Am.

 

The series continues to go from strength to strength with the growing entry list including five new teams and 12 new drivers for the season opener. The 17-car entry is the highest yet in the series’ short history, with more new crews also set to join the grid as the season progresses.

 

Two races at Circuit Paul Ricard will kick off a six-round double-header calendar, this year supporting Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS and the centenary CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa (26–30 June).

 

Reigning champions face stiff Pro-Am title defence


LP Racing will represent the iconic Maserati brand in its bid to defend the Pro-Am title against new and returning opposition. The Italian squad pipped KTM X-BOW driver Reinhard Kofler to the 2023 title by a solitary point, but will now aim to retain their crown with the Maserati GT2 after racing Audi machinery for much of the previous term.

 

Leonardo Gorini joins the squad for a Pro-Am attack in car #1 after taking an Am class victory at Ebimotors last year, partnering with fellow Italian Carlo Tamburini.

 

The returning Kofler meanwhile has his sights set firmly on toppling the Italians. After a strong finish to last season with fellow Austrian Martin Koch, the pair reunite for a full campaign with Team MZR, spearheading a feisty KTM X-BOW partnership that took two wins in the previous term – including one at the Circuit Paul Ricard finale.

 

True Racing by Reiter Engineering also enter a KTM X-BOW for Hubert Trunkenpolz and Laura Kraihamer, while last year’s Am champion Jan Krabec jumps to Pro-Am with the assistance of former TCR frontrunner Matej Homola for the season opener.

 

The KTM will also be the weapon of choice for Fanatec GT2 debutants, Razoon – More Than Racing. Its Pro-Am crew contains the rapid Danish duo of Thomas Andersen and 17-year-old sensation Simon Birch, both moving to GT2 after prior exploits together in Le Mans Cup.

 

After a successful maiden season for the new Mercedes-AMG GT2, the German marque is represented even more prominently on the grid this term. Akkodis ASP enter Pro-Am with last year’s Red Bull Ring winners Benjamin Ricci and Mauro Ricci, while Fanatec GT2 welcomes back an old friend of SRO Motorsports Group in former GT4 European Series champion Eric De Doncker, who brings his Motorsport 98 squad to the field along with Loris Hezemans.

 

Am class wide open with raft of new entries
The Am class welcomes further growth as 10 entries compete for class honours at Circuit Paul Ricard, with many new faces looking for a strong start to their debut season. 

 

While 2023 Am champion Krabec moves to a Pro-Am entry, his closest competitor from last term returns with eyes firmly on the title. True Racing by Reiter Engineering’s Klaus Angerhofer finished just 15 points from the top spot in 2023 with three wins, the Austrian rekindling his partnership with fellow countryman Sehdi Sarmini this year.

 

Another Austrian duo also line up in a KTM, that being the #90 car of Razoon – More Than Racing. Its second X-BOW GT2 will be in the capable hands of Team Principal Dominik Olbert, who brings regular endurance racing partner Denis Liebl to fight for the title. RacingLab also makes its series debut, fielding Ronnie Bremer and Kevin Rossel in the #10 X-BOW.

 

LP Racing’s #2 Maserati GT2 is for experienced amateur Philippe Prette to battle for Am spoils, the Italian a five-time Ferrari Challenge champion. SRO Founder and CEO Stéphane Ratel completes the LP Racing stable, and will relish getting back behind the wheel of the Audi R8 LMS GT2 at Circuit Paul Ricard.

 

TFT Racing is also set for the team’s series debut in France, bringing a third Maserati GT2 to the field with Alexandre Leroy.

 

Akkodis ASP go for a double tilt at the title, with the #87 Mercedes-AMG GT2 featuring an all-French line-up of Jean-Luc Beaubelique and Gilles Vannelet. Car #53 will be piloted by Christophe Bouret and Pascal Gibon. Mercedes-AMG is also represented by the NM Racing Team, with Stéphane Perrin and Jörg Viebahn in the #888 AMG GT2.

 

Experienced endurance racing regulars Proton Competition meanwhile will enter the Porsche 911 GT2 RS with Patrick Dinkeldein, to add yet another marque to an exciting grid.

 

Iron Cup grows in competition
In addition to the usual class silverware on offer, the Iron Cup will also be up for grabs again this season - earned by the highest placed pairing with a combined age of 100 years and over in both categories.

 

Those eligible for the trophy at Circuit Paul Ricard include Angerhofer/Sarmini in the #16 True Racing KTM, the #888 NM Racing Mercedes-AMG of Perrin/Viebahn, and the Akkodis ASP Mercedes-AMG duo of cars #53 (Bouret/Gibon) and #87 (Beaubelique/Vannelet).

 

WATCH LIVE

The 2024 Fanatec GT2 European Series Powered by Pirelli gets underway at Circuit Paul Ricard this weekend (5/6 April) with two hours of free practice at 09:00 and 13:20 on Friday, ahead of qualifying at 17:30. The first 50-minute race of the year is scheduled for 13:05 on Saturday, followed by race two later that evening at 18:45 (all times CEST). Watch both races live via GT World on YouTube.
 


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