- Championship glory on the line in deciding round of 2022 season
- Titles up for grabs include overall Fanatec GT Endurance championships for teams and drivers
- Campaign concludes with 49-car field tackling three-hour contest in Spain
The curtain falls on the 2022 Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS season next weekend (30 September-2 October) when a three-hour Endurance Cup race at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya will decide the final championship battles.
There is plenty left to fight for as the series makes its annual visit to the 4.7 km Spanish circuit. The overall Fanatec GT Endurance teams' and drivers' championships are on the line, while class honours and a number of combined titles will also be settled when the chequered flag falls on Sunday afternoon.
A 49-car field will dispute the long-distance event, which marks the conclusion of a 10-round championship that kicked off almost six months ago at Imola. The storylines that began in Italy will be resolved in Spain, bringing another intensely competitive Fanatec GT Endurance campaign to a close.
Akkodis ASP and Iron Lynx face off for top-tier titles
Once again, the battle for the overall Fanatec GT Endurance drivers' title goes to the wire. Everything could have been settled last time out at Hockenheim, but the result was a stalemate as both leading contenders failed to score.
In fact, there was a significant development at the German circuit. While five crews arrived with a mathematical shot at the title, only two remain in the hunt heading into the decider. Akkodis ASP leads the way, with its #88 Mercedes-AMG crew of Marciello/Gounon/Juncadella on 79 points. Having won at this circuit in 2017 and 2021, the French squad must be considered favourite to add championship glory to its TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa triumph.
But don't rule out Iron Lynx. The Italian squad has been consistently fast this term and the #71 Ferrari line-up of Rigon/Fuoco/Serra is just 11 points back ahead of the Barcelona event. If there is a silver lining to not scoring at Hockenheim, it is that the returning Daniel Serra can still fight for the title with his teammates after missing the trip to Germany.
The teams' championship has more contenders, though Akkodis ASP enjoys a lead of 16 points over Iron Lynx in this classification. ROWE Racing is 25 back, while Team WRT trails by 26 points. There are 26 up for grabs at the finale, making it a very tall order for either ROWE or WRT to capture the crown.
Among the title-contending outfits, Akkodis ASP is alone in running a single Pro car. Iron Lynx will have its #51 Ferrari of Nielsen/Calado/Molina in support, though the team will hope to avoid a repeat of the contact between its cars at Hockenheim. ROWE Racing can count on the #50 of Harper/Hesse/Verhagen and the #98 of Farfus/Yelloly/Eng, the latter featuring a driver change for the finale as two-time TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa winner Philipp Eng steps in for Nick Catsburg.
Team WRT fields its usual two-car Pro effort, which sees the #32 Audi of Vanthoor/Weerts/Van der Line joined by the #46 of Vervisch/Müller/Rossi. The Belgian outfit is still in the hunt for the overall Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS teams' title, trailing Akkodis ASP by 16 ahead of the finale. Significantly, this will be WRT's final outing with Audi machinery, ending a 12-year partnership that has seen the team establish itself as the most successful in the series.
Audi was dominant last time out at Hockenheim, with Saintéloc Junior Team ending a five-year wait to return to the top thanks to its #25 trio of Mies/Niederhauser/Légeret. Runner-up spot in Germany went to Attempto Racing, which retains its crew of Winkelhock/Marschall/Schramm in the #66. Tresor by Car Collection could have made it an Audi sweep but for a late puncture and will look to bounce back with the #12 crew of Haase/Drudi/Ghiotto.
AMG Team GetSpeed adds a second Mercedes-AMG to the Pro ranks for the trio of Engel/Stolz/Schothorst. Porsche scored its first overall podium of the campaign last time out thanks to Dinamic Motorsport, which retains the trio of Bachler/Cairoli/Picariello in its #54 machine.
In contrast, Hockenheim was not kind to the McLaren squads. JP Motorsport ran well early on, but its charge was halted by technical gremlins. The #111 entry features a strong driver combination of Klien/Abril/Lind and will hope to rediscover the form that earned a fifth-place finish at Imola. JOTA, which saw its #38 eliminated in a heavy opening-lap crash at Hockenheim, completes the season with its crew of Bell/Kirchhöfer/Wilkinson.
A pair of fifth-place finishes have been the season highlights for leading Lamborghini outfit Emil Frey Racing. The Swiss squad will look to improve upon that at a circuit where the Huracán has always run well, with Bortolotti/Costa/Aitken in the #63 car and Altoe/Rougier/Roussel sharing the #19. They complete a highly competitive field of 16 Pro runners set to contest the 2022 season finale.
Thriving Silver Cup concludes with 18-car field
The Fanatec GT Endurance Silver Cup titles were settled at Hockenheim. TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa winner Team WRT put the championship beyond doubt, while its #30 Audi crew of Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer, Thomas Neubauer and Benji Goethe earned the drivers' crown. The latter duo subsequently added the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS Silver Cup drivers' title, so the objective in Spain will be to secure the combined teams' championship for WRT.
The only squad that can stop them is Attempto Racing. The fellow Audi outfit is 22 points back ahead of the finale, meaning the title could be wrapped up in Saturday's Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series contest. Team WRT has a second Silver Cup car in the fight with the #31 of Menchaca/Proctor/Hutchison, while there is further Audi representation in the Silver Cup courtesy of Saintéloc Junior Team (Panis/Gazeau/Baert) and Tresor by Car Collection (Vermeulen/Patrese/H. Valente).
Having dominated the Silver Cup in 2021, Emil Frey Racing earned its first class win of the current campaign in brilliant style at Hockenheim. The #14 Lamborghini ran at the front throughout the three-hour contest and will aim for more of the same with its line-up of White/Lappalainen/Tujala.
Fellow Lamborghini squad Leipert Motorsport retains an unchanged line-up of Leitch/Owega/Tutumlu Lopez for the trip to Barcelona, while Barwell Motorsport has shuffled its crew for the finale. Full-season driver Alex MacDowall is joined by James Dorlin, who previously drove for the team at Imola, while Jordan Witt is back with Barwell for the first time since 2019. VSR will conclude its first full season of Fanatec GT Endurance competition with Cola/Paverud/Moulin sharing the #163 Lamborghini, while Beretta/Nemoto/Hites will occupy the sister #563 car.
Mercedes-AMG joins Audi and Lamborghini in deploying a five-car Silver Cup contingent for the season finale. Al Manar Racing by HRT has enjoyed the best campaign and could yet finish as runner-up in the Fanatec GT Endurance Silver Cup standings with its #777 crew of Al Zubair/Jefferies/Schiller. The sister Haupt Racing Team entry will once again feature Fittje/Love/A. Valente in its #4 entry, while GetSpeed will field the #3 Mercedes-AMG for Kingsley/Baud/Eriksen.
Barcelona is a true home event for Madpanda Motorsport, with the squad based just a few kilometres from the circuit. The #90 Mercedes-AMG will feature regulars Ezequiel Perez Companc and Sean Walkinshaw alongside a to-be-confirmed third driver, while Akkodis ASP adds its #87 for Drouet/Mosca/Stevenson.
Having started the season with a podium at Imola, Garage 59 will hope to finish in the same manner with Kjaergaard/Maldonado/Simoni sharing its #159 McLaren. A pair of Porsche squads complete the Silver Cup field for the finale, with Allied Racing running the #22 for Fischli/Matthiesen/Strum, while Dinamic Motorsport has Roda/Nakken/Pedersen in the #56.
Inception Racing targets inaugural Gold Cup title, everything up for grabs in Pro-Am
The inaugural Gold Cup title goes to the wire, with Inception Racing out front after scoring a second win of the season last time out at Hockenheim. It came in dramatic fashion when a final-lap puncture hobbled the leading Herberth Motorsport Porsche, allowing the #8 McLaren of Iribe/Millroy/Schandorff to snatch a crucial win.
The #83 Iron Dames crew of Bovy/Gatting/Frey are second heading into the decider. The TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa class winners lost their advantage at Hockenheim, but with a nine-point gap the championship remains well within their capabilities. Herberth Motorsport retains a long shot, with its #911 crew of Bohn/A. Renauer/R. Renauer 22 points back. The teams' championship is identical to the drivers’ classification, making this an all-or-nothing decider.
A further eight squads will contest the Gold Cup at Barcelona. AGS Events completes its first season back in the Endurance Cup with the #8 Lamborghini of Cabirou/Gomar/Parisy. Belgian squads Boutsen Racing and Team WRT will compete with Audi machinery, the former running its usual trio of Ojjeh/Lessennes/Eteki in the #10, while Ryuichiro Tomita partners brothers Arnold and Maxime Robin in the #33.
Polish outfit JP Motorsport will run its #112 McLaren for Krupinski/Blazek/Siedler, while a trio of Mercedes-AMG squads complete the Gold Cup field. Haupt Racing Team scored its best finish of the season at Hockenheim thanks to a second-place finish for the #5 of Haupt/Scholze/Maini, while the #57 Winward Racing crew of Liebhauser/Ferrari/Auer are still awaiting a result to match the strong pace they have shown this term.
Sky Tempesta Racing enjoyed a promising Fanatec GT Sprint outing at Valencia and will hope to carry that form over to the Endurance finale. Jonathan Hui re-joins the #93 line-up alongside regular teammates Chris Froggatt and Eddie Cheever III, completing the Gold Cup grid for Barcelona.
There is everything to play for in Pro-Am. Dominik Baumann (#20 SPS automotive performance Mercedes-AMG) has accumulated the most points, but as a Gold-rated driver he cannot win the Pro-Am title alone. As such, the leaders are Louis Machiels, Andrea Bertolini and Stefano Costantini (#52 AF Corse Ferrari), who hold a 17-point advantage at the top of the standings.
With four cars on the Pro-Am entry list, the #52 crew can wrap up the championship by finishing the race. This would be enough to ensure a third Fanatec GT Endurance Pro-Am crown for Machiels, whose previous triumphs were achieved back-to-back in 2011-2012. Only the #188 Garage 59 McLaren crew can stop them, though the line-up of West/Ramos/Chaves must finish first or second in class and hope that their rivals hit problems.
The #20 Mercedes-AMG will be occupied by Baumann, Valentin Pierburg and Ian Loggie, whose objective will be to secure the teams' championship for the SPS squad. They lead the way on 104 points, one clear of AF Corse. The final car on the grid will see Porsche outfit Allied Racing field its #91 entry for Alex Malykhin and Ayhancan Guven, completing a 49-car field.
Finally, there are combined Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS Pro-Am titles to be settled at Barcelona. AF Corse leads the teams' standings with 225 points, 22 more than Garage 59. The drivers' championship is much closer, with Garage 59 man Miguel Ramos five points clear of Machiels and Bertolini. As such, it is possible that three different Pro-Am squads with have a title to celebrate on Sunday evening.
Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series concludes, GT1 Sports Club returns to scene of maiden outing
The season finale will follow the usual Endurance Cup format, beginning with Friday’s bronze test and culminating in a three-hour contest on Sunday afternoon. As well as Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS, the Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series will also conclude its 2022 campaign at Barcelona. A one-hour Assetto Corsa Competizione race will be staged in the Fanatec Esports Arena, with vital championships points on offer for the overall and Silver Cup teams' championships.
The event will feature on-track support action from the Lamborghini Super Trofeo and GT4 European Series, with the latter set to wrap up its 2022 season at the Spanish track. What's more, GT1 Sports Club Powered by Curbstone Events will stage its final event of 2022 at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, one year after the concept made its debut at the same venue. The brands set to test their limits on the 4.7 km track include Pagani, Lamborghini, Porsche and McLaren, while a selection of cars will be on display in the paddock. Combined with Sunday afternoon’s main event, it promises to be a highly entertaining weekend as the curtain falls on the 2022 season.
FRIDAY 30 SEPTEMBER
16:40–17:40 – Bronze Test
SATURDAY 1 OCTOBER
09:00–10:30 – Free Practice
13:40–15:10 – Pre-Qualifying
18:45–19:45 – Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series LIVE
SUNDAY 2 OCTOBER
09:00–10:00: Qualifying LIVE
15:00–18:00: Three-Hour Race LIVE
STATS & FACTS
• From the four occasions that Barcelona has been an Endurance race, Mercedes-AMG has taken three wins (2017, 2018 and 2021). The exception came in 2019 when Lamborghini triumphed.
• Having already clinched the Fanatec GT Sprint title in Pro-Am, Miguel Ramos is the only driver capable of sweeping his class this season. The Portuguese is also in the running for the Endurance and combined Pro-Am titles.
• Team WRT can clinch the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS Silver Cup teams’ title in Saturday’s Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series race. This would be the first time that a real-world title was settled in a virtual contest.
• For the second race in succession, the Silver Cup remains the biggest category on the grid with 18 cars. This will be the final race before changes to the class structure, which will be introduced at the opening event of 2023.
• Sunday's race will be the 60th since the Endurance Cup began in 2011, totalling 465 hours of competition.
• Series lap record: 1m43.296s – Raffaele Marciello, #88 Mercedes-AMG, 2020