The SRO Motorsports Group and Fanatec have agreed to expand their existing partnership which will see Fanatec become the main title sponsor of not only the GT World Challenge but also their new GT2 European Series.
Fanatec are one of the biggest names in sim racing, producing a wealth of high-end hardware for PCs and consoles. The company will now join SRO in pioneering an initiative that brings together real-world and virtual motorsport at all five rounds of the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup, including the prestigious Total 24 Hours of Spa.
In cooperation with AK Informatica, an esports contest will be staged at each event using the official game of the series, Assetto Corsa Competizione. The competitors will be the drivers that are competing for overall honours and those in the Silver Cup class. Each of those teams will nominate one of their drivers to represent them in a virtual race where the results will lead to points that will go towards the teams’ championship.
The concept will see sim racing directly influence the outcome of a real-world championship, a first in global motorsport. There is likely to be some pessimism among fans and drivers, Kelvin Van Der Linde having already voiced his concerns on his social media: “Can’t expect guys that never played on a sim before to now influence their real life championship by their performance on a Sim…”
In my opinion, having the points go towards the teams’ championship is the best way to go about it but I would like to see the teams represented by actual sim racers. They get the spotlight and a serious event to race in while being a part of the GT World Challenge paddock. The pro drivers in turn won’t have to worry about losing a championship because they are not used to the environment.
Fanatec will also support the GT2 European Series, a new championship that forms part of the revitalised GT Sports Club concept. The category will be launching this season with a five-round calendar with cars produced by Porsche, Audi, KTM and Lamborghini.
The maiden race will form part of the support package for the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS season opener at Monza on 15-17 April. The Fanatec GT2 European Series will then stage events at Hockenheim, Silverstone, Spa-Francorchamps and Circuit Paul Ricard in what promises to be an exciting debut season for the new category.
Stephane Ratel, SRO Motorsports Group founder and CEO said: “We are delighted that Fanatec will greatly enhance its partnership with SRO this season by becoming title sponsor of both GT World Challenge Powered by AWS and the GT2 European Series. I am excited by the initiatives that our collaboration can produce, particularly by integrating real-world racing and simulation. Having pioneered the introduction of Balance of Performance and driver categorisation, SRO has earned a reputation for breaking new ground within the sport. Now, we are proud to be at the forefront of another revolutionary moment as the first championship to merge virtual and real racing. It is clear that GT racing is immensely popular within the esports community, which speaks to its potential globally. As a leader in its field of expertise, Fanatec can play a crucial role in the project. This is also a tremendous boost for the Fanatec GT2 European Series, which I am very excited to see launch at Monza in April. Everything is now in place to ensure a strong maiden season for our new category.”