• Season resumes after five-week summer break with third stop on Sprint schedule
• Huge 41-car field set to tackle 4.6km circuit in Baden-Württemberg
• German event kicks off busy conclusion to 2023 campaign
The 2023 Fanatec GT Europe season resumes next weekend (1–3 September) when the series travels to Hockenheim for the third round of the Sprint Cup campaign.
A 41-car field will tackle a pair of 60-minute races at the 4.6km circuit in Baden-Württemberg, which becomes a Sprint event this term after debuting as part of the Endurance schedule in 2022.
It follows a five-week summer break and begins a run of four events in seven weeks, culminating with the season finale at Zandvoort in mid-October. Three of these are Sprint Cup contests, meaning there is still everything to play for in the battle for the short-format championship.
PRO: Akkodis ASP out front, Team WRT and Tresor Orange1 lead the chasing pack
The Sprint Cup season is going according to plan for Raffaele Marciello and Timur Boguslavskiy. The #88 Akkodis ASP Mercedes-AMG won at Brands Hatch and Misano, establishing a lead of 16.5 points at the top of the overall standings. Their closest challengers are Valentino Rossi and Maxime Martin (#46 Team WRT BMW), who secured a famous triumph in Race 2 at Misano to vault to second in the championship.
Though still without a win in 2023, the sister #32 Team WRT crew of Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts are level on points with Rossi/Martin and would be considerably closer to Marciello/Boguslavskiy had it not been for a costly pit stop at the Italian event. A third Pro entry from Team WRT sees Thomas Neubauer and Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer looking to carry momentum from Misano, where the young duo secured a podium finish in Race 2.
Audi remains the most popular brand among Sprint Cup teams. A total of 11 cars will compete at Hockenheim, five of which are entered in the Pro category. The #40 Tresor Orange1 pairing of Mattia Drudi and Ricardo Feller will be hoping for a return to form after a surprisingly quiet weekend at Misano. They sit third in the standings, 18 points adrift of the leading #88 crew.
One spot further back is the #11 Comtoyou Racing duo of Christopher Haase and Lucas Légeret, who have scored points in each outing and finished as runners-up in Misano Race 2. The sister #12 will also be on-track with Fred Vervisch and Nicolas Baert sharing the wheel.
Saintéloc Junior Team is yet to hit its stride during this season's Sprint Cup, but the French squad won last year's Endurance round at Hockenheim and can count on a strong two car line-up of Patric Niederhauser/Erwan Bastard in the #25, and Christopher Mies/Gregoire Demoustier in the #27.
Benji Goethe and Nicolai Kjaergaard will share the #159 Garage 59 McLaren entry, which has shown pace on a number of occasions this term. There has been less to cheer about at fellow McLaren squad JP Motorsport, with Christian Klien and Dean MacDonald yet to put points on the board. Putting that right will be their first objective at Hockenheim.
Dinamic GT duo Christian Engelhart and Adrian de Leener will also hope to open their account for 2023 in the #54 Porsche. Franck Perera and Jordan Pepper (#60 VSR Lamborghini) have scored points in three races from the opening four, though they are yet to bank the kind of result that both drivers are known for.
Ferrari completes the Pro line-up courtesy of a two-car Emil Frey Racing entry. The Swiss squad looks capable of giving the new 296 GT3 its maiden series win, with Giacomo Altoè and Konsta Lappalainen sharing the #14 machine, while the experienced Albert Costa joins rookie Thierry Vermeulen in the sister #69 car.
GOLD CUP & SILVER CUP: Close-fought class battles in prospect at Hockenheim
The Gold Cup has been highly competitive this term, with all five crews earning a podium finish from the opening four races. Team WRT seized the advantage at Misano thanks to Race 2 victory for the #30 BMW of Niklas Krütten and Calan Williams. Alberto Di Folco and Aurélien Panis (#9 Boutsen VDS Audi) are 11 points adrift after winning the opening contest in Italy.
Three more Audi crews will compete for Gold Cup honours at Hockenheim, where Simon Gachet/Paul Evrard (#26 Saintéloc Junior Team), Adam Eteki/Cesar Gazeau (#10 Boutsen VDS) and Gilles Magnus/Finlay Hutchison (#21 Comtoyou Racing) are all capable of fighting at the front.
The Silver Cup is the closest championship battle ahead of the trip to Germany. Lorenzo Patrese and Alex Aka (#99 Tresor Attempto Racing Audi) lead with 49.5 points, three more than Frank Bird and Jordan Love (#77 HRT Mercedes-AMG). Ezequiel Perez Companc and Jesse Salmenautio (#90 Madpanda Motorsport Mercedes-AMG) are third and will be keen to stay in touch with the early leaders.
Fourth spot in the standings belongs to Leonardo Moncini and Jacopo Guidetti, who have quietly put together an impressive debut campaign in the #28 Nova Race Honda by scoring points in each outing. The sister #68 car is once again shared by Erwin Zanotti and Diego Di Fabio.
The #71 AF Corse Ferrari has shown pace in the hands of Sean Hudspeth and Nicola Marinangeli, while Lamborghini squad VSR has a pair of strong contenders in Baptiste Moulin/Marcus Paverud (#119) and Yuki Nemoto/Rolf Ineichen (#163). GSM AB1 will field an all-new line-up, with debutants Matteo Desideri and Federico Scionti sharing its #18 Huracán.
The Silver Cup field is completed by a new addition to the grid. German outfit Paul Motorsport will field the #65 Lamborghini for Maximilian Paul and Simon Connor Primm, both of whom are set for their maiden Fanatec GT Europe appearances at Hockenheim.
BRONZE CUP: Garage 59 looking to continue perfect start to Sprint Cup campaign
The Bronze Cup kicked off at Misano, but there is already a clear championship leader after Miguel Ramos and Henrique Chaves (#188 Garage 59 McLaren) swept the board in Italy, establishing a 10-point advantage at the top of the standings.
Alex Malykhin and Ayhancan Güven (#911 Pure Rxcing Porsche) finished runner-up in both races, leaving them second in the standings. The affiliated Herberth Motorsport squad is third and will field its familiar duo of Ralf Bohn and Robert Renauer on home turf.
With two further entries, Porsche remains the best represented Bronze Cup brand. The #44 CLRT (Steven Palette/Stephane Denoual) and #55 Dinamic GT (Christopher Zoechling/Philipp Sager) will also use the latest-spec 911 GT3 R. Mercedes-AMG is also a popular choice, with a trio of crews consisting of Hubert Haupt/Sebastien Baud in the #79 HRT, Reema Juffali and Fabian Schiller in the #81 Theeba Motorsport, and Eric Debard/Jim Pla in the #87 Akkodis ASP.
The #112 JP Motorsport McLaren of Patryk Krupinski/Norbert Siedler kicked off the season with a podium in the opening Misano contest, while the #66 Tresor Attempto Racing Audi of Andrey Mukovoz/Dennis Marschall matched that feat in the second outing.
There was no silverware for the #52 AF Corse Ferrari on home soil, but few crews have achieved more in GT racing than Louis Machiels and Andrea Bertolini. They complete an 11-car Bronze Cup grid which should once again deliver highly competitive action.
PROVISIONAL ENTRY LIST
THURSDAY 31 AUGUST
• 14:45 - 17:15: Paid Test
FRIDAY 1 SEPTEMBER
• 09:30 - 10:50: Free Practice
• 14:20 - 15:40: Pre-Qualifying
SATURDAY 2 SEPTEMBER
• 09:50 - 10:15: Qualifying 1
• 14:00 - 15:00: Race 1
SUNDAY 3 SEPTEMBER
• 09:55 - 10:20: Qualifying 2
• 14:35 - 15:35: Race 2
• GT4 European Series Powered by Rafa Racing Club (2x 1-hour races)
• McLaren Trophy Europe (2x 50-minute races)
• Mitjet International (4x 20-minute races)
STATS & FACTS
• This will be the second Fanatec GT Europe event at Hockenheim and the first as a Sprint Cup round. Last year's contest was part of the Endurance schedule, while the track will retain its Sprint status in 2024.
• At 4.6 kilometres, this is the longest circuit on the Sprint calendar. The 3.9km Brands Hatch Grand Prix layout is the shortest.
• Opened in 1932, the original track was known as "Dreieckskurs" (triangle course) and was considerably longer at 12 kilometres. The most famous version was inaugurated in 1965, with legendary circuit designer John Hugenholtz lending his skills to the project, while the modern track was created in 2002.
• Saintéloc Junior Team won last year's race with its #25 Audi. All three drivers from that effort will be on the grid this season: Patric Niederhauser will again drive the #25 Audi, Christopher Mies will anchor the sister #27 machine, while Lucas Légeret drives the #11 Audi for Comtoyou Racing.
• Audi will be the best represented brand with 11 cars, followed by Mercedes-AMG (6), Lamborghini and Porsche (both 5). BMW, Ferrari and McLaren all have four entries, while Honda has two.
• Italy is the best represented nation among drivers, with 15 entries for the upcoming event. There will be 14 French competitors, while 13 German drivers will tackle their home race. A total of 22 nations are represented on the entry list.
• The #91 Herberth Motorsport is the only entirely German entry set to compete at Hockenheim. The Bavarian squad will field two German drivers – Ralf Bohn and Robert Renauer – at the wheel of its German-made Porsche 911 GT3 R.
• Four drivers are set to make their series debut: Maximilian Paul (23 years old, German); Simon Connor Primm (18 years old, German); Federico Scionti (30 years old, Italian); and Matteo Desideri (25 years old, Italian).
• Classes by number: 15 Pro entries; 11 Bronze entries; 10 Silver entries; 5 Gold entries
• Series race lap record: 1m38.324s – Mirko Bortolotti, #63 Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini (2022)