- First official running of virtual 24 Hours of Spa takes place this weekend
- 33 teams and 11 different GT3 models confirmed for twice-around-the-clock race
- Entry List | Timetable
GT World Challenge Europe Esports competitors will undertake their biggest challenge yet this weekend (7/8 August) when a 33-car field tackles the marquee 24 Hours of Spa.
The third of five Endurance Series events, this gruelling twice-around-the-clock Assetto Corsa Competizione contest comes just one week after the real-world TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa staged its 73rd edition. On Saturday the virtual equivalent will run for the very first time, with 11 different GT3 models looking to go the distance at the legendary Belgian venue.
Organised by SRO Motorsports Group in partnership with Fanatec, Kunos Simulazioni, AK Esports, Pirelli and The Sim Grid, the event will represent the highlight of the GT World Challenge Europe Esports season. With such a major accolade on the line the battle is set to be more fierce than ever, with the world's most skilled Assetto Corsa Competizione drivers going wheel-to-wheel in pursuit of victory.
In terms of favourites, the natural place to begin is with the Ferrari runners. The brand has enjoyed a stellar start to the GT World Challenge Europe Esports season and, after taking a first overall win since 2004 in last weekend's real-world event, there will be added inspiration to keep the Prancing Horse on top.
The pick of the Italian marque's contingent is the #51 FDA Esports crew of Tonizza/De Salvo/Laurito. In particular, David Tonizza has been in scintillating form on Assetto Corsa Competizione this year and leads the GT World Challenge Europe Esports Sprint Series standings by a healthy margin after taking three wins from five events.
We have also seen potential from the Jean Alesi Esports Academy squad, which draws upon the experience of the former Ferrari Formula 1 driver to nurture young sim racing talent. Its line-up will consist of Pawlowski/Santoro/D'Alcamo, while Kessel Racing by Racing Line and SideMax Motorworks will also put the 488 GT3 through its paces on the daunting 7km Ardennes circuit.
If the first half of the GT World Challenge Europe Esports campaign is anything to go by, Ferrari's stiffest challenge will come from the Porsche camp, with VRS Coanda Simsport looking especially potent. The #18 crew of Rogers/Gkergkis/Ostgaard took a resounding victory at the previous Endurance Series event at Circuit Paul Ricard and will be strengthened further for the 24 Hours by Dutch racer Mack Bakkum.
The sister #88 car brings together a strong crew of Kroenke/Bouteloup/Collins/Guven, the latter a rising star of Porsche's real-world GT programme. GPX Racing by Rennwelten can count on a line-up that features the accomplished Chris Hoeke, while Predator Simracing by R8G will also field a 911 GT3-R this weekend.
An impressive contingent of Aston Martin squads is led by Williams Esports, which looks set to be a serious challenger for victory with its line-up of Gamil/Keithley/Stefanko/Wisniewski. Russian outfit Simware.pro will also compete for the win, led by owner/driver Egor Ogorodnikov, while GTWR Academy and FFS Racing will bolster the Aston attack still further. If these teams are looking for a good omen, they should note that the Vantage AMR GT3 scored third overall in last weekend's real-world race, its best finish at Spa in more than a decade.
In contrast, Lamborghini has never reached the overall podium at Spa. Can one of its virtual squads put that right on Sunday afternoon? DV1 TRITON Racing will hope to do so with its four-man crew of Blajer/Tyszkiewicz/Charkot/Bobrowicz, while MCW Racing Team will rely on its driving trio of Wohlmuth/Brioni/Giglioli.
Ratòn Racing by QLASH will field a two-car effort, one of only three teams doing so this weekend. There is plenty of Italian representation on this squad: the #129 car will draw upon the skills of Giarratana/Pertile/Siddi/Zampedri, while Montalbano/Bedin/Castorino/Famulari will take turns at the wheel of the #130 Huracán GT3.
BMW is the most successful brand in the history of the real-world TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa and, judging by its line-up for this weekend's Assetto Corsa Competizione race, could make a perfect start to the virtual edition. BMW Motorsport SIM Racing G2 Esports will tackle the event with an all-star crew of Naujoks/Kammerer/Schill, while BMW TEAM BS+COMPETITION can also challenge with a line-up that includes Angus Fender and Attila Dencs.
A third M6 GT3 comes from Borusan Otomotiv Motorsport E-Team. The Turkish outfit is also a leading contender in the real-world GT4 European Series and will tackle the virtual 24 Hours of Spa with Benzes/Aybey/Gonuldas sharing driving duties.
Last weekend, JOTA scored the best-ever result for a McLaren at the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa by finishing seventh overall. Now, the same team is chasing victory in the virtual edition with McGregor/Stapleford/Braune/Foster driving its 720S GT3. There will be two more McLarens on-track: real-world squad Team Rocket RJN will field a three-man crew that includes gamer-to-racer James Baldwin, while the YAS HEAT trio features the vastly experienced Eamonn Murphy.
Haupt Racing Team Schindler represents an especially close tie-up between the real and virtual racing worlds. This weekend, its Mercedes-AMG GT3 will be driven by Müller/Hitz/Giusa/Bauer. In terms of livery and team name, few can rival the flamboyant Unicorns of Love squad, which will embark on a challenge for the 24 Hours with the crew of Gronewald/Otocki/Kisser/Richter. AKKA ASP by GTWR will also field the AMG GT3, just as the real-world AKKA ASP outfit did last weekend.
Honda will be represented by a pair of cars from the HPD JAS Pro Europe squad, which includes the driving skills of Zach Patterson in the #93 NSX GT3 and Nicolas Hillebrand in the sister #94 car. Team BUSR will put a third Honda on the grid, with Bridport/Helviö/Demuynck/Maloney sharing the #286 machine.
As was the case in the real-world, Bentley will be represented by a single car in this weekend's esports contest. Racing Line Motorsport will ensure that the distinctive rumble of the Continental GT3’s 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 can be heard, with Siclari/Schinz/Ratz/Batifoulier set to share the wheel.
The most successful brand during Spa’s current GT3 era, Audi will be represented by cars from Odox Motorsport and Saintéloc by R8G. The former will run the Spanish quartet of García/Albaladejo/Marín/Martinez, while the latter represents a tie-up between leading real-world squad Saintéloc Racing and international star Romain Grosjean.
Finally, a pair of Lexus RC F GT3 entries complete the field. The Japanese car has long been a fan favourite and, while absent from the real-world grid last weekend, remains the choice of two squads for the Assetto Corsa Competizione edition. Team Fordzilla will put its faith in Piffet/Crossland/Arnold/Alvarez, while Emil Frey ZH-Nord Racing will run Duran/Weber/Gasser.
Just like last weekend's real-world race, the upcoming 24 Hours of Spa esports contest will be streamed live and in full. Fans can follow every minute of the action on the SRO YouTube and Twitch channels, as well as the SRO Esports Facebook page. Streaming will begin at 15:00 CEST on Saturday, allowing for 10 minutes of build-up before the twice-around-the-clock contest goes green at 15:10.
It will conclude at the same time on Sunday afternoon, when the very first 24 Hours of Spa winners will be crowned. With an ultra-competitive field confirmed, the battle for victory is set to be intense from start to finish.