This weekend sees the 2020 GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup roar into the world famous Nurburgring circuit for a six hour endurance event after a barn stormer of an opening race at Imola.
Located in the Eiffel region in Germany, the series doesn’t use the full Nordschleife endurance variation, instead the GP-Strecke layout poses a real challenge to the drivers aiming to master the 5.1km of asphalt and along with the cooler climates, the teams will have a very different challenge on their hands compared to Imola. The Nürburgring event will feature a 48-car field featuring 10 brands (23 full-pro crews and 25 class contenders) with new competitiors joining them. The race also takes on extra significance as it is the final long-distance contest before the marquee Total 24 Hours of Spa meaning this will be the last chance to iron out any kinks before the big one.
A fantastic start to the 2020 season means Audi head to its home event as the brand to beat. Belgian Audi Club Team WRT has been running point so far after taking victory at Imola and adding two more in the Sprint Cup at Misano. Two full-pro crews will compete at the Nurburgring, with Rolf Ineichen taking over from Matthieu Vaxiviere in the #31 Audi R8 LMS as the only change for the team. Ineichen re-joins Mirko Bortolotti, with whom he won the most recent Endurance event at the Nürburgring in 2016.
Sainteloc Racing were another Audi team to get off the mark well after a fifth place at Imola as well as a brace of Sprint Cup podiums and will be looking to continue that run of form. Attempto Racing scored overall pole for the season opener and a top-three finish at Misano which surely means the Audi brand must go in as favourites for this round.
German rival Porsche have the numbers to be the ones to lead the fightback. Six Pro 911 GT3-R entries are set to tackle the Nürburgring, with two of those cars coming from the ROWE Racing team. The full-season #98 car will be joined by the sister #99, which features a very strong line-up of Simona de Silvestro, Timo Bernhard and Jeroen Bleekemolen. KCMG will also make an appearance with its new challenger, while the full-season entries from GPX Racing and Dinamic Motorsport complete an impressive line up.
Mercedes-AMG will be strongly represented by AKKA ASP, who took a podium finish at Imola, as well as newcomers HRT and GetSpeed Performance. An additional AMG GT3 run by JP Motorsport will see Mathias Lauda, Patryk Krupinski and former grand prix racer Christian Klien tackle the six-hour contest.
Lamborghini did not finish among the overall top-10 at an Endurance Cup race since the 2018 Total 24 Hours of Spa and they will be looking to rectify that this weekend. Reigning series champion Orange1 FFF Racing and a two-car assault from Emil Frey Racing both featuring significant driver talent and will be hoping to come home with better results than they did at Imola.
Ferrari could very well contend for victory after both of the Italian marque’s full-pro crews showed strongly last time out, especially in the opening hour of the race. The #51 AF Corse and #72 SMP Racing cars ran one-two at the hour mark before slipping back as the race progressed so they will be looking to see if they can maintain it this time out.
Bentley squad K-PAX Racing make a change for this event with the American outfit will calling upon Alex Buncombe who is subbing for Alvaro Parente in the #9 Continental GT3. French outfit CMR will also be their Bentley flag and will give Nelson Panciatici his Endurance debut in the #107 machine.
Optimum Motorsport rounds out a field of 23 full-pro crews with the #69 McLaren 720S GT3, which made a strong first impression by taking eighth at Imola. Its line-up includes Rob Bell, a past winner at the Nürburgring, who adds vital experience ahead of Optimum’s second outing.
Pro-Am sees thirteen cars set to take on the circuit with the Garage 59 Aston Martin currently leading after their victory at Imola. SKY Tempesta Racing will most likely be their main challenger after a strong outing at Misano in the Sprint Cup as well as their runner up spot at Imola.
Silver Cup will be as close as ever with the Barwell crew looking to fend off the effort from Garage 59, the Dinamic Motorsport Porsches, Madpanda Motorsport as well as other strong crews looking to start a run of form to last them into the 24 Hours of Spa.
The event’s first track activity takes place on Friday 4 September, with the bronze test getting underway at 16.55 local time. Saturday begins with free practice at 09.00, followed at 13.35 by pre-qualifying. Teams will then conduct the all-important qualifying session at 19.10. Six hours of racing will follow on Sunday, with the green flag to fall at 11.45.