The 2023 Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS season is nearly upon us and the annual pre-season prologue has just been completed. The event is an exclusive two-day test session at the Paul Ricard circuit in the south of France and is open to all teams and drivers competing in the 2023 season to shakedown their new cars and get to know their new co-drivers.
➤ 49 cars took part throughout the two days with 8 different manufacturers represented.
➤ The outright fastest time from the two days came from Thomas Drouet in the #88 Akkodis ASP Mercedes AMG GT3 Evo. This car also proved to be the most consistent having finished each session inside the top four placings. Already an ominous threat from the 2022 overall champions.
➤ We can expect to see four brand-new cars in action this season, all of which were in action throughout the prologue event. The new Ferrari 296 GT3, Porsche 992 GT3R, Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo2 and McLaren 720s GT3 Evo will all feature throughout the sprint and endurance championships whilst the Honda NSX GT3 makes its return to European racing.
➤ The full season entry lists were announced at Paul Ricard with 56 teams competing in the endurance cup whilst a record 40 cars will take to the grid for the sprint cup which commences at Brands Hatch in May.
➤ Mercedes stalwarts Maro Engel / Luca Stolz are set to enter their sixth season as co-drivers with the newly rated gold driver, Fabian Schiller joining them in the AlManar Racing by Getspeed Mercedes AMG GT3 Evo.
➤ Akkodis ASP and the Haupt Racing Team have also confirmed two cars apiece. However, no drivers have been officially announced at this time. Thomas Drouet meanwhile was confirmed as setting the fastest time in the #88 car.
➤ Italian Lamborghini squad, Grasser Racing Team return after a year away with a pair of brand new Lamborghini Huracán Evo2s. Only one driver lineup has been announced so far with Clemens Schmidt / Glenn Van Berlo / Benja Hites forming the #85 silver entry. The sister car was present at the test but no further news has been announced.
➤ K-PAX racing will dovetail their US programme with the endurance cup here in Europe. Their sole entry will be piloted by a stellar lineup of Lamborghini factory drivers. Marco Mapelli / Franck Perera will team up once again whilst 2020 British GT champion, Sandy Mitchell gets his big break as part of a manufacturer programme.
➤ One of the biggest announcements over the off-season came from Ferrari protagonists, Iron Lynx who confirmed their departure from Ferrari to fellow Italian squad, Lamborghini. The #63 car will be piloted by Mirko Bortolotti / Andrea Caldarelli and new Lamborghini factory driver, Jordan Pepper. The #19 car will compete in the gold cup with Rolf Ineichen / Michele Beretta / Leonardo Pulcini whilst the Iron Dames car features an unchanged lineup from last season.
➤ Emil Frey Racing meanwhile have swapped their Lamborghinis for a pair of prancing horses. The new Ferrari 296 GT3 being their weapon of choice. Regular driver Albert Costa Balboa will share the #69 entry with Verstappen.com Racing-backed Thierry Vermeulen whilst Giacomo Altoè / Konsta Lappalainen will share the usual #14 entry.
➤ AF Corse has confirmed three cars for the upcoming season with two pro entries accompanied by a solitary pro-am entry of Louis Machiels / Andrea Bertolini and Machiel’s son, Jef. The pro entires meanwhile consist of Antonio Fuoco / Davide Rigon / Daniel Serra in the #71 with Nicklas Nielsen / Alessio Rovera / Robert Schwartzman in the sister #51 car.
➤ Another big announcement from the 2022 season sees WRT switch from long-time partner, Audi to rival squad BMW. Two cars will complete the entire season with WRT regulars Charles Weerts / Dries Vanthoor partnering with Sheldon Van Der Linde in the familiar #32 entry with the #46 featuring Valentino Rossi / Augusto Farfus / Maxime Martin.
➤ Walkenhorst return with two cars after having only competed at the Spa 24 hours last year. No driver lineups have been announced as of yet but a silver entry will complete the full season whilst the pro-am car will enter the endurance rounds only.
➤ ROWE will once again compete in the endurance cup with a pair of BMW M4 GT3s. The flagship #98 entry will feature BMW factory drivers Marco Wittmann / Philipp Eng / Nick Yelloly whilst the sister #998 will feature an unchanged lineup of Dan Harper / Max Hesse / Neil Verhagen who have all been promoted from BMW’s junior programme.
➤ Rutronik Racing return to the endurance cup for 2023 with a strong driver lineup full of former Carrera Cup Deutschland champions. Reigning champion Laurin Heinrich, 2018 champion Thomas Preining and 2017 champion Dennis Olsen have their sights set on the endurance title.
➤ Dinamic Motorsport has undergone a rebrand for 2023 now known as Dinamic GT. They will complete the full seasons of the endurance and sprint cups in the gold and bronze classes respectively. No drivers have been confirmed at this stage but both cars were in attendance at the Paul Ricard prologue.
➤ Last season’s Hockenheim winners, Saintéloc will return with a two-car assault on the endurance cup and a three-car assault on the sprint cup. The endurance #25 features a full pro-line-up of factory Audi drivers: Patric Niederhauser / Christopher Mies / Simon Gachet whilst the sister #26 will fight in the silver cup featuring Erwan Bastard / Grégoire Demoustier / Paul Evrard. All six drivers will then be split across three cars for the sprint cup rounds.
➤ Tresor Attempto will also field a full-season pro entry with another strong lineup of factory Audi drivers. Ricardo Feller / Mattia Drudi will compete together during the sprint cup and will be joined by the rapid Dennis Marschall for the endurance cup rounds.
➤ The striking black and gold McLarens of JP Motorsport will tackle the sprint cup for 2023. The full pro car will feature ex-F1 driver Christian Klien with British youngster, Dean MacDonald joining him. The pro-am entry will comprise of team owner Patryk Krupinski and experienced pro, Norbert Siedler.
➤ Garage 59 has a busy year ahead of them. Not only will they feature two entries within British GT, but they will run two cars in the full GTWC Europe season as well as overseeing the Sky Tempesta entry during the endurance cup rounds.
➤ The Honda NSX GT3 makes its return to GTWC Europe after three seasons away. Nova Race will run a pair of NSX GT3s for the full season of both sprint and endurance cups. The first car will compete in the silver cup and features last year’s Italian GT sprint champions, Jacopo Guidetti / Leo Moncini whilst the second car features Diego Di Fabio / Erwin Zanotti.
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