The world got a first official look at the new 2022 Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS at the pre-season test at Circuit Paul Ricard.

➤  You can find our gallery of photos from the test by Yann Seite.

➤  43 cars took part in the annual pre-season test ahead of the season opener in Imola in just three weeks time. Over the course of the two-day event, rising star Fabian Schiller set the quickest time. The young German managed a 1m52.533s aboard the #777 Haupt Racing Team Mercedes-AMG GT3 set on the morning of the second day of running. Fellow Mercedes-AMG team GetSpeed Performance was fastest on Saturday morning (1m52.761s) followed in second by the Mercedes-AMG of Winward Racing in second, but it was Raffaele Marciello who beat both Silver Arrow teams to the punch as he lapped the fastest Day 1 time in 1m52.709s aboard the #88 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the afternoon session. The final session of the pre-season test finally saw a non-Mercedes take to the top as Saintéloc Racing’s #25 Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II set a 1m52.971s.

➤  Schiller is set to contest the Endurance Cup alongside International GT Open graduate Al Faisal Al Zubair and Axcil Jefferies competing in the Silver Cup.

➤  Unlike previous years, Haupt Racing Team is not running a Pro car in the 2022 GTWCE season. In addition to the #5 Mercedes-AMG entered in the newly established Gold Cup to be driven by Hubert Haupt, Arjun Maini and Florian Scholze, the formerly Pro #4 machine has been handed to the Silver trio of Jannes Fittje, Jordan Love and Alain Valente.

➤  GetSpeed Mercedes-AMG Team has taken over the successful duo of Maro Engel and Luca Stolz from HRT. The Germans are joined by Dutchman Steijn Schothorst who most recently was successful with Attempto Racing in the 2018 Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup winning one race and finishing third in the championship. They will take on the season in the #2 BWT-sponsored Mercedes-AMG GT3.

➤  Having retired from MotoGP, nine-time motorbike World Champion Valentine Rossi will now fully focus on car racing as he joins WRT for the full GTWCE season. To underline the high expectations the Belgian squad has of the Italian, WRT has placed Rossi with Audi works drivers Nico Müller and Fred Vervisch to take the #46 Audi – Rossi’s traditional MotoGP number – to success.

➤  In the land of Lamborghini a big reshuffle has taken place. With Grasser Racing Team off to fight for glory in the DTM championship and FFF Racing Team taking the year off from GT3 racing, Emil Frey Racing has taken over flagship status carrying the #63 (Jack Aitken, Mirko Bortolotti and Albert Costa) and #19 (Giacomo Altoè, Arthur Rougier and Léo Roussel) numbers into battle in addition to last year’s Silver Cup championship sweeping #14 Lambo (Konsta Lappalainen, Stuart White and Tuomas Tujula).

➤  Gold Cup entrant AGS Events makes its debut in the GTWCE with the #8 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 brining Mike Parisy back to the championship together with Nicolas Gomar and youngster Loris Cabirou. The team of one-time Formula 1 driver Vincenzo Sospiri is headed for its first full Endurance season in the GTWCE bringing two Huracáns with which it won last year’s International GT Open championship and the 2020 Italian GT Sprint Championship. Driving the two VSR Lambos are last year’s GT Open champion Michele Beretta and 2020 Italian GT Sprint champ Yuki Nemoto along with Benjamín Hites, with the second car piloted by Michael Dörrbecker, Marcus Paverud and Baptiste Moulin. Leipert Motorsport (Dennis Fetzer, Brendon Leitch, Max Weering and Jordan Witt, #27) and Barwell Motorsport (Alex Malykhin, James Dorlin and Ben Barker, #78; #77 TBA) meanwhile continue their respectively Silver and Gold Cup programmes.

➤  In recent weeks, Saintéloc Racing, Tresor by Car Collection and Iron Lynx have also announced their line-ups. The French Audi squad enters one Pro car (#25) for Lucas Légeret Christopher Mies and Patric Niederhauser and a Silver Cup entry (#26) for Nicolas Baert, César Gazeau and Aurélien Panis. Car Collection is back with two cars. At the wheel of the #11 Silver Cup Audi will be Axel Blom, Lorenzo Patrese – son of Formula 1 race winner Riccardo Patrese – and Hugo Valente while the stellar trio of Mattia Drudi, Luca Ghiotto and Christopher Haase promises to be an overall threat in the #12 Pro class machine. The three-car assault by Iron Lynx will be headed by two Pro cars at the hands of James Calado, Miguel Molina and Nicklas Nielsen in the #51 Ferrari 488 GT3 with Antonio Fuoco, Davide Rigon and Daniel Serra taking charge of the #71 Ferrari. Iron Dames is also back, this year with Sarah Bovy, Rahel Frey and Michelle Gatting in the Gold Cup #83 Ferrari.

➤  Garage 59 returns to the McLaren brand with which it won the 2016 Blancpain GT Endurance Series. The British team has signed Manuel Maldonado – cousin of Formula 1 race winner Pastor Maldonado – to drive its #159 McLaren 720S GT3 Silver Cup entry with the remaining two drivers to be announced. The #188 Gold Cup McLaren will be raced by Henrique Chaves, Miguel Ramos and Alexander West.

➤  Also returning to its previous brand is Rowe Racing. After three highly successful seasons with Porsche, the German crew is back in the GTWCE with the brand new BMW M4 GT3 – although it kept running the BMW M6 GT3 at the Nürburgring and in the DTM. In addition to the full works driver line-up of Nicky Catsburg, Augusto Farfus and Nick Yelloly in the #98 BMW, Rowe also runs a car for BMW Juniors Daniel Harper, Max Hesse and Neil Verhagen who have successfully graduated from the Nürburgring Endurance Series (NLS).

➤  Full season entry lists: ENDURANCE | SPRINT | OVERALL

➤  Click HERE for the 2022 GTWCE calendar.


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