- New season begins with one-hour Assetto Corsa Competizione race at tricky Italian track
- Reigning champ Baldwin back to defend European crown against top-line opposition
- Entry List | Schedule
The 2022 Mobileye GT World Challenge Europe Esports Championship kicks off on Wednesday (6 April) with a one-hour Assetto Corsa Competizione race at Misano, launching the first of three continental Sprint Series set to run in 2022.
A stacked grid of 48 world-class sim racers will test their skills at the technical Italian circuit where consistency is rewarded and no error goes unpunished. The entry list is headlined by reigning series champion James Baldwin, who will defend his crown against a field that includes official esports drivers from the likes of Ferrari, BMW and Lamborghini.
The Veloce McLaren star already knows how to get the job done at Misano. Last year's race was a tense affair in which Baldwin led a McLaren one-two ahead of Eamonn Murphy, while the Ferrari of David Tonizza completed an all-star podium. On that occasion the top-32 qualifiers were separated by less than one second and there is every reason to anticipate an equally close contest on Wednesday evening.
The Misano race is scheduled to get underway at 21:00 CEST and opens a five-round European season that also takes in Zandvoort (4 May), the Nürburgring (8 June), Hungaroring (6 July) and Monza (3 August). Each will run on a Wednesday evening with in-depth coverage across a variety of online platforms, including live streaming on the SRO YouTube and Twitch channels, as well as the SRO Esports Facebook page.
Organised by SRO Motorsports Group and Ak Esports in partnership with Mobileye, Fanatec, Kunos Simulazioni, Pirelli and The Sim Grid, the series utilises the highly authentic physics and unmatched driving realism of Assetto Corsa Competizione. The 2022 campaign will feature new GT3 cars from Audi and BMW, bringing the virtual series fully up to date with its real-world equivalent.
Baldwin primed for title defence against new and returning opposition
Having edged a titanic 2021 title battle against Ferrari star David Tonizza, James Baldwin goes on the hunt for further championship glory this term with the #1 proudly displayed on his Veloce McLaren. The man he beat is also back and will be hungry for revenge at the wheel of the #95 Scuderia Ferrari Velas Esports Team entry, hinting at an another epic battle between the pair.
But there's no reason to expect a two-horse race. Nils Naujoks (BMW Team BS+COMPETITION) was a major factor during the second half of last term and will hope for a strong start with the new M4 GT3 to launch his 2022 title assault. Niklas Houben triumphed in the 2021 finale to cap a stellar run of form and could also be a contender this year representing Romain Grosjean’s R8G eSports squad in the #22 Audi.
There are plenty more returning drivers from last term to watch out for, including Eamonn Murphy, who joins Baldwin at the Veloce McLaren squad, as well as Arthur Kammerer (BMW Team BS+COMPETITION), Kamil Pawlowski (Scuderia Ferrari Velas Esports Team) and the mercurial Amir Hosseini (R8G eSports McLaren). Luca Losio also returns for 2022, switching brands to pilot a BMW M4 GT3 for the Mobileye x Jean Alesi Esports Academy squad.
While the aforementioned drivers will run in the top-tier Pro category, further competition will come from the addition of a Silver class. Categorisation is decided by 2021 results, though it would not be a surprise to see the leading Silver drivers run at the front of the overall order. Among the familiar names, Dennis Schoeniger will drive the #9 Mercedes-AMG E-Sports Team HRT machine, while youngster Robbie Stapleford returns to pilot the #81 BMW G2 Esports entry. Egor Ogorodnikov has also shown flashes of front-running pace and will tackle the Misano event driving a VDES Academy Bentley.
The British marque's Continental GT3 is a particularly popular choice for Wednesday's race, with an impressive 12 runners across both classes set to use the car. They will be joined by eight McLarens, six examples of Mercedes-AMG machinery and four BMWs. Aston Martin, Audi, Ferrari, Honda, Lamborghini and Porsche will each be represented by three cars at Misano.
The European Sprint Series opener kicks off the online portion of the 2022 SRO Esports season and comes just a few days after the Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series began its 2022 campaign with a successful event at Imola (2 April). It will be the first race to run with title sponsorship from Mobileye, the global innovator in autonomous and assisted-driving technology, which was announced last month.
The Mobileye GT World Challenge Asia Esports Championship begins on 13 April at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, while the Intercontinental GT Challenge Esports Championship Powered by Mobileye follows with the Bathurst 12 Hour on 16 April. The Mobileye GT World Challenge America Esports Championship completes the set when it launches on 23 April with a one-hour race at Zolder.
2022 Mobileye GT World Challenge Europe Esports Championship
- Misano – 6 April
- Zandvoort – 4 May
- Nürburgring – 8 June
- Hungaroring – 6 July
- Monza – 3 August