The 2021 Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS season gets under way this weekend with a 44-car field featuring nine brands contesting a three-hour Endurance Cup race at the theatre of speed, Autodromo Nazionale di Monza.
Celebrating its 10 year anniversary of holding the Endurance Cup, the historic Monza will see its idyllic setting mix with the ferocious sound of GT3 cars on the 5.8 km circuit.
Thanks to a victory in the deciding race at Circuit Paul Ricard, Ferrari captured last year’s Endurance Cup titles. This year the brand will be represented by the new Iron Lynx squad. Alessandro Pier Guidi will be defending his drivers’ crown in the #51 car and will be joined by Nicklas Nielsen and Côme Ledogar. The sister #71 line-up is led by Ferrari expert Davide Rigon, who is joined by rapid youngsters Antonio Fuoco and Ferrari F1 Reserve driver Callum Ilott.
BMW has returned to the fight for overall honours with it also being the final year for the M6 GT3 before the M4 model arrives next year. Walkenhorst Motorsport’s two cars see Marco Wittman and Sheldon van der Linde join David Pittard in the #34 machine, while Timo Glock, Martin Tomczyk and Thomas Neubauer share the #35.
Audi will be the best represented with its contingent featuring two strong crews from Saintéloc Racing. Christopher Haase anchors the #25 alongside French duo Alexandre Cougnaud and Adrien Tambay, while Finlay Hutchison will have the benefit of having the experienced pairing of Frédéric Vervisch and Markus Winkelhock joining him in the #26. Team WRT will entrust its #31 machine to Dries Vanthoor, Kelvin van der Linde and Charles Weerts, while the vastly experienced Chris Mies switches teams to join Mattia Drudi and Kim Luis Schramm at Attempto Racing.
Orange1 FFF Racing have Endurance Cup title in their sites after failing to retain it last year. They will have an Italian super team of Andrea Caldarelli, Mirko Bortolotti and Marco Mapelli to give them the boost whilst Swiss outfit Emil Frey Racing will field established stars Albert Costa, Giacomo Altoè and Norbert Siedler in its #163 Huracán. The second car combines yet another F1 Reserve in Jack Aitken with fellow young guns Konsta Lappalainen and Arthur Rougier.
A pair of impressive Mercedes-AMG crews will compete for overall glory this season. In the #88 AKKA ASP entry, established team leader Raffaele Marciello is joined by returnees Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella to form a formidable trio. HRT has named an unchanged line-up, with Maro Engel, Luca Stolz and Vincent Abril also sure to feature at the front.
Unbelievably the highly successful Porsche is still searching for its maiden Endurance Cup title. GPX Racing will be one of the enteries looking to put that right by fielding an ace crew of Earl Bamber, Matt Campbell and Mathieu Jaminet. The car will also come draped in the Martini brand and colours, continuing the GPX of epic liveries. Dinamic Motorsport has two 911 GT3-R entries. The #54 features Christian Engelhart, Klaus Bachler and Matteo Cairoli, while Romain Dumas, Andrea Rizzoli and Mikkel O. Pedersen will handle the #56.
Although McLaren will be fielding a single car, it is with the well respected JOTA, the series newcomer will be running factory drivers Rob Bell, Ben Barnicoat and Oliver Wilkinson. They complete a Pro contingent that ranks among the strongest ever seen in the series and promises to put on a spectacular show at Monza.
Pro-Am and Silver Cup
Overall victory isn’t the only source of entertainment this season. The Silver Cup will feature 13 cars, six of which represent Mercedes-AMG. They include last year’s Total 24 Hours of Spa class winner HRT, which is joined by fellow German squads Toksport WRT and SPS automotive performance. AKKA ASP and Ezequiel Perez Companc‘s Madpanda Motorsport will also have high hopes of adding an Endurance crown this year for the brand, while American outfit Winward Racing is preparing for its maiden campaign.
Garage 59 is sure to be a strong Silver Cup contender especially after finishing runner up last year. This year though they have added reigning class champion Alex MacDowall to its #159 Aston Martin. Ferrari squad Rinaldi Racing has proven winner Patrick Kujala alongside Chilean rising star Benjamin Hítes, who makes the switch to the 488 GT3 for his second season in the series.
Audi will be represented by three entries, two from Team WRT and another from Attempto Racing. For Lamborghini, Grasser Racing returns with a line up that includes Squadra Corsa juniors Kikko Galbiati and Tim Zimmermann, while Emil Frey Racing completes the Silver grid.
The Pro-Am class will run with 14 cars set to tackle the season opener. Garage 59 will defend its 2021 title with an unchanged crew of Alexander West, Chris Goodwin and Jonny Adam, making the Aston Martin squad pre-season favourite to retain its crown.
Their competition is led by a quartet of Ferrari entries. AF Corse will field past series champions Duncan Cameron and Matt Griffin in the #53, while two-time title-winner Louis Machiels pilots the #52. Sky Tempesta Racing who arguably dominated only to just miss out on the Endurance crown last term and will start 2021 among the favourites, while Kessel Racing makes a welcome return to the series in 2021.
Barwell Motorsport will be hoping to capture a maiden Pro-Am title with its #78 Lamborghini, while Orange1 FFF Racing has also put its faith in the Italian machine. French outfit CMR switches to the Pro-Am ranks this season with its Bentley Continental GT3, while Boutsen Ginion Racing will continue with its BMW M6 GT3.
Mercedes-AMG is represented by RAM Racing, GetSpeed and SPS automotive performance, while Inception Racing will field a McLaren for series newcomers Brendan Iribe and Ollie Millroy. The grid is completed by Allied-Racing, which will campaign a Porsche 911 GT3-R this term. The German squad clinched last season’s GT4 European Series title in the Pro-Am class and will now look to earn more success in Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS.
This season also sees the launch of the new Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series. Organised by SRO Motorsports Group in partnership with Fanatec, Assetto Corsa Competizione and AK Informatica, the series will stage one-hour races at each Endurance Cup event.
Teams entering a Pro or Silver car in the full Endurance campaign will have to select one of their race drivers to compete, with points awarded to the top-three overall and Silver finishers. At the end of the season, points earned in the virtual series will be added to scores from the Endurance Cup and Sprint Cup to determine the overall and Silver teams’ titles for 2021.