Back in January, the SRO Motorsports Group which promotes most of the biggest real-world GT championships in the world announced that the title sponsor of the 2021 GT World Challenge Powered by AWS will be the German Sim Racing peripheral manufacturer Fanatec. This multi-year deal between the SRO Motorsports Group and Fanatec aims at further integrating e-sports and real-world competition into one sport.
During all five rounds of the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup and Total 24 Hours of Spa, esports contests will be hosted using Assetto Corsa Competizione, the official video game of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Powered by AWS. Both Pro and Silver teams will nominate one actual race driver to participate in a virtual race that awards championship points.
This weekend SRO Motorsports Group starts this new chapter for competitive sim racing. 24 Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe drivers and teams will battle for real-world Overall Pro and Silver points in the inaugural Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series event at the Italian Autodromo Nazionale di Monza.
This Saturday evening’s one-hour race staged on Assetto Corsa Competizione at the purpose-built Fanatec Arena inside Monza’s paddock, represents motorsport’s first fully integrated crossover between virtual and real competition.
Pro and Silver class podium finishers will score either one, two, or three points towards their respective real-world Overall Teams’ Championship total, meaning as many as 15 points are available across 2021’s five rounds. There’s a genuine possibility, therefore, that virtual results will decide the outcome of a real-world championship for the first time in motorsport history, and a prize pot of €25,000 will be awarded per event.
The likes of Maro Engel (Haupt Racing Team, Mercedes-AMG), Matt Campbell (GPX Racing, Porsche), Kelvin van der Linde (Team WRT, Audi), Ben Barnicoat (JOTA, McLaren), Nicklas Nielsen (Iron Lynx, Ferrari), and Mirko Bortolotti (Orange 1 FFF Racing Team, Lamborghini) are just a few of the factory stars nominated at Monza where the Silver class drivers have an equal chance of fighting for overall results.
One driver per Pro and Silver Cup team contesting Sunday’s real three-hour race will also enter Saturday evening’s qualifying session and the 60-minute Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series race. Before Friday’s practice session the 24 representatives will be each assigned a Fanatec rig for the entire season, which they can either set up using data provided by official SRO Esports partner, Coach Dave Academy or according to their own preferences. They must also use the same manufacturer as their team has entered in real life.
Each driver must make one mandatory pitstop between minutes 25 and 35. Changing tyres is optional but at least one liter of fuel must be added. Success Ballast in the order of 30kg, 15kg, and 10kg will be applied to both class’ top-three finishers for Round 2, which takes place at Circuit Paul Ricard on May 29.
SRO Esports’ official technical partner, AK Informatica, will review incidents and administer penalties if necessary, as well as publish all official results and points post-race.
Friday 16 April
- 10:00 – 19:00: Free practice (maximum two hours per driver)
Saturday 17 April
- 17:45 – 18:15: Warm-up
- 18:20 – 18:40: Qualifying
- 18:55 – 19:55: Race (live coverage from 18:40)
Needless to say, due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions the event will be held behind closed doors, with no non-essential public allowed.
That said, you will not have to miss a single minute of the action, as the race will be streamed life via the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe website, and the SRO Twitch, Youtube, and Facebook channels. Commentation is in the capable hands of David Addison and Ben Constanduros.
Official Webpages – www.gt-world-challenge-europe.com – fanatec.com