- Event format, driver nominations and points system confirmed
- First of five Assetto Corsa Competizione races to take place at Monza on 17 April
- Fanatec Points Boost to contribute to real-world championship standings
- Total of €125,000 prize money on offer for successful Esports Cup competitors
Further details have been revealed ahead of the inaugural Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS Esports Cup, which is set to stage its maiden race in little over a month at historic Monza.
Organised by SRO Motorsports Group in partnership with Fanatec, Assetto Corsa Competizione and AK Informatica, the groundbreaking concept represents the most complete integration yet of virtual and real-world racing. The five-round series will use Assetto Corsa Competizione to stage on-site contests alongside the prestigious Endurance Cup, travelling to iconic venues such as Monza, Spa-Francorchamps and the Nürburgring.
Produced by Kunos Simulazioni and 505 Games, Assetto Corsa Competizione will provide an unrivalled platform for competitors to test their skills. The acclaimed title has set the standard in driving realism since 2018, with highly authentic physics, stunning graphics and photo-realistic weather conditions giving drivers an opportunity to experience the unique thrill of GT3 racing.
At each round, teams entering a Pro or Silver car in the full Endurance campaign must select one of their race drivers to compete virtually. Those with multiple entries in the same class will only be required to nominate one driver, while teams with Pro and Silver cars must select one representative from each. They will battle for the inaugural Esports Cup titles over the course of five one-hour races, with points awarded to the top-three overall and Silver finishers on a 3-2-1 basis.
The truly groundbreaking aspect of the new initiative comes from the Fanatec Points Boost. This will see points accumulated in the Esports Cup added to scores from the Endurance Cup and Sprint Cup to determine the overall and Silver teams' titles for 2021. A successful Esports campaign could be worth up to 15 points, placing huge importance on the virtual competition. Teams will also contend for a significant prize pot, with €25,000 up for grabs at each event and a total of €125,000 offered across the season.
All competitors will compete at the on-site Fanatec Esports arena and will rely on cutting-edge equipment provided by Fanatec, the global leader in high-end sim racing hardware for consoles and PCs. Two hours of testing will be available on Friday (Thursday at the Total 24 Hours of Spa), while the bulk of the action takes place on Saturday (Friday at Spa). There will be a 30-minute non-compulsory warm up, followed by a 20-minute qualifying session to set the grid for the one-hour contest. All drivers will be required to stop during a mid-race pit window, adding a strategic element to proceedings.
Each race will feature a maximum of 24 competitors. If this number is exceeded priority will be given to full-season Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS entrants, with any remaining places allocated via qualifying. If there are fewer than 24 drivers, race-by-race entries will be open to teams competing in the Pro-Am or Am Cup categories. These competitors will be able to earn prize money but will not be eligible for the Fanatec Points Boost.
All five events will be streamed live on the official Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS website, as well as YouTube, Twitch and Facebook. A professional team of commentators will be assembled to guide fans through the action, with both motorsport and sim racing experts set to feature. Further broadcast details will be announced ahead of the opening event.
After launching at Monza, the Esports Cup will head to Circuit Paul Ricard on 28-30 May before joining the programme at the marquee Total 24 Hours of Spa (28 July-1 August). The season will culminate with events at the Nürburgring (3-5 September) and Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya (8-10 October), the latter taking place alongside the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS finale. All eyes will be on the virtual action that weekend as drivers compete for crucial points to support their team’s challenge for 2021 season championship.
Robert Rossi, Fanatec Head of Esports: “The merging of real and virtual competition is just around the corner. With all the details in place, the significance of this moment is really starting to sink in. Real points are at stake, and esports is being taken more seriously by the drivers and teams than ever before. The Fanatec Points Boost adds a new dimension to race weekends and we can’t wait to get started.”
Marco Massarutto, Co-Founder of Kunos Simulazioni: "As The Official GT World Challenge Game, we are very happy to cooperate with both SRO and Fanatec, as this stronger integration is bringing the simulation experience to the next level. I can't wait to see how the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS drivers perform under pressure on our Assetto Corsa Competizione, as GT racing opens a new door adding excitment to Sim Racing .”
Alessio Cicolari, CEO AK Informatica: “Right from day one, our mission here at AK informatica has been to bring the world of real and virtual motorsports closer together, and right to the heart of the fan experience. We are unbelievably proud of this new initiative, once again working in close collaboration with our partners at SRO Motorsports Group and Kunos Simulazioni to offer drivers from both virtual and real world of motorsport the opportunity to race together at the highest level, in a format specifically designed to entertain and excite in equal measure.”
Stephane Ratel, SRO Motorsports Group founder & CEO: “SRO has always pioneered new innovations and we are proud to do so once again by introducing the Fanatec Points Boost. Integrating simulation and real-world racing is a revolutionary step and the attention that it has generated demonstrates the potential of the SRO Esports Cup. We are fortunate to have the world-class partners that such an undertaking requires and, with their help, I know that we will make this project a real success."