Five reasons to get hooked on the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe | Pirelli

Five reasons to get hooked on the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe

The Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS is the most prestigious GT3 championship in the world, run exclusively on Pirelli tyres, and it begins with a round at Monza in Italy this weekend. No fewer than 55 cars from eight different manufacturers will race for three hours at the ‘Temple of Speed' on Sunday 23 April for the first Endurance Cup encounter of the season. The GT World Challenge Europe – organised by the well-known SRO Motorsport Group – is watched by more and more fans every season. Here are five good reasons to follow all the action this year.

Record-breaking entrie

Throughout more than 10 years of history, the GT World Challenge Europe has always attracted a healthy number of entries. The Sprint Cup – which comprises two one-hour races per weekend over five rounds – will boast a record-breaking 41 cars on the grid this season.

The grid will be full at Misano, Hockenheim and Valencia, while the first and last rounds at Brands Hatch and Zandvoort will be restricted to three classes, given the tight confines of those tracks. The Endurance Cup, on the other hand, has 15 more cars: bringing the total number of entries to 56. The field, the largest since 2017, will compete at Monza, Paul Ricard, Spa, the Nürburgring and Barcelona. The CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa, celebrating its 75th edition this year, will also break records, with 72 GT3 cars competing in the historic endurance race.

New cars

The GT World Challenge Europe grid brings together the top car brands. There are cars from eight different manufacturers contesting the full season: Audi, BMW, Mercedes-AMG, Honda, Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini and McLaren. The latter four will take to the track with new or updated models. The AF Corse team will enter the new Ferrari 296 GT3, which was officially unveiled at the Spa 24 Hours in 2022 and made its track debut in Daytona at the end of January. This car replaces the 488 GT3, which some teams will continue to use. There's also a brand new car for Porsche, which will now field the 911 GT3 R. The German supercar, which began development in 2019, is based on the 992 but with a six-cylinder boxer engine featuring increased displacement that puts out 416kW and 565 horsepower. Both Lamborghini and McLaren have renewed their two models to make them even more powerful. The Huracan GT3 EVO2 is now in its third generation, while the British marque has improved the already reliable 720S, which will be entered by five teams this year. Competing in the Spa 24 Hours only will be another legendary British brand – Aston Martin – with its iconic Vantage.

Iconic circuits

Two legendary circuits have returned to the 2023 calendar after a year's absence: Monza and the Nürburgring. The Italian circuit hosted the series' inaugural endurance race in 2011 and has since become the traditional season-opener. Inaugurated in 1922, the ‘Temple of Speed' was the home of the original ‘1000 Km of Monza': a famous endurance race for GT cars and prototypes that preceded the World Sportscar Championship and the World Endurance Championship. Five years after Monza, the epic Nürburgring in Germany was created: a track where, according to tradition, the Mercedes brand was born. The 22.8-kilometre Nordschleife, now used mainly for car testing, tourist laps, and its famous 24-hour race, is nicknamed the 'green hell' because of the fearsome challenge it presents as it winds through the woods of the Eifel region. The other tracks on the GT calendar also need no introduction: Brands Hatch in England, Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, Paul Ricard in France, Misano on Italy's Adriatic coast, the Hockenheimring in Germany, the two Spanish circuits of Valencia and Barcelona, and finally Zandvoort on the North Sea coast in Holland.

New rules

The GT World Challenge has made a number of changes to its regulations for 2023. There will now be five different classes in the Endurance Cup, allowing for a better balance of drivers competing in the same category. The top ranking will remain the Pro class, where cars compete for the overall championship. By contrast, drivers in the Gold, Silver and Bronze classes race for three different trophies. The latter group is the largest in both the championship and the blue riband 24 Hours of Spa. Finally, the Pro-Am class (only for endurance events) remains unchanged from previous years. Also introduced for endurance races is a new procedure in the event of a safety car, known as a 'wave-by'. During a neutralisation, cars in the race that are ahead of their class leader can now overtake and rejoin the group. The rule will be applied after each full caution period and will allow the leading cars to fight for the podium without having to worry about lapped cars.

Performance tyres

All the major GT classes in the SRO series are fitted with the latest Pirelli P Zero DHF tyres. In the past, each category used different types of tyre, but Pirelli has offered a single product that meets the needs of all GT cars in every class since last year. A new compound guarantees excellent grip and durability with a wider operating range, especially at warmer temperatures. There's also a new construction that improves the balance between front and rear, enabling better performance. Importantly, the DHF is more sustainable than its predecessors. Environmental impact was already reduced right from the development phase, with extensive use of virtual modelling to replace physical tyre prototypes. The P Zero range for the GT World Challenge uses new types of renewable materials to help reduce its environmental footprint.