The 2023 Fanatec GT Europe tour rolls on to Circuit Paul Ricard (2–4 June) with the French track hosting its annual six-hour contest.
Getting underway at 18:00 CEST and concluding at midnight, the event produces some of the most spectacular visuals you are ever likely to see at a motor race, with 57 cars competing as the sun fades into the Mediterranean horizon.
On this basis alone, the event is worth attending. But let’s not stop there: here are five more reasons to join us in the south of France.
1. IT'S AN EPIC RACE
From a purely sporting perspective, the trip to Circuit Paul Ricard stands among the highlights of the season. The event has been part of the Fanatec GT Europe calendar for more than a decade, while its six-hour duration is second only to the CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa. As such, there is added prestige to this race, pushing teams to go the extra mile for victory.
In terms of competition, it is often a thriller. We've been treated to some epic action in the past, including a last lap move for the lead in 2018 and a nail-biting title decider in 2020. The real drama often comes during the final hour, with strategies playing out and car performance varying as the temperature drops. Indeed, it’s not uncommon for a team to dominate the early running but fall away as the sun sets.
With this year's race set to feature a grid of 57 cars spread across five competitive classes, we should be in for yet another exciting contest. Join us trackside and watch it unfold in person.
2. ...AND AN EPIC EVENT
In terms of location, this is a tough one to top. Set in an unspoilt area at the heart of France’s Sainte-Baume regional natural park, Circuit Paul Ricard is around one hour's drive from Marseille and no more 30 minutes from several seaside towns.
The venue is first-class, too, with excellent facilities for fans and professionals alike. In 2019 it became the first circuit in France (and one of just a handful worldwide) to be awarded a three-star FIA Sustainability Accreditation rating, a distinction of which it is rightly proud. This is why you might see a flock of sheep near to the track: these 'eco grazers' were introduced to help preserve the natural environment.
To add a bit of extra flavour, the event includes a rooftop party that runs throughout the race. Once the sun has set, the rumble of GT3 cars mingles with DJ sets and champagne glasses to create a very special soundtrack. It’s also the perfect vantage point from which to watch the race, with great views of the start/finish straight and the pits. More info on tickets can be found here.
3. IT'S THE FINAL WARM UP FOR THE BIG ONE
The trip to Circuit Paul Ricard marks the final Fanatec GT Europe track action before the CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa. As such it is more than just another race, providing competitors with a vital tune-up before the annual trip to the Ardennes.
In this respect, the longer duration is crucial. Teams have a chance to hone their pit work and experiment with strategy in race conditions. It's important for the drivers, too, with the opportunity to get behind the wheel in changing light especially crucial to less experienced drivers.
Winning at Circuit Paul Ricard isn't an indicator of success at Spa – in fact, we have never seen the same team win both events within a season. But the six-hour race does provide an opportunity to gather knowledge, to try new things, perhaps even learn from a few mistakes. As such it's a vital step towards CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa victory.
4. HIGH-LEVEL SUPPORT ACTION AND A BRAND-NEW SERIES
The Circuit Paul Ricard weekend boasts a stellar support line-up. Three high-level series will be on-track, one of which stages its first-ever race, while GT1 demos and esports racing add plenty of diversity.
The new kid on the block is McLaren Trophy Europe, which is set for its inaugural event and the first of five alongside Fanatec GT Europe. The one-make series will see Pro-Am driver pairings at the wheel of Artura Trophy and 570S Trophy models. There will also be plenty of interest in the GT4 European Series, which will be joined by GT4 Scandinavia to form a colossal grid of 56 cars, while Lamborghini Super Trofeo never fails to produce a spectacular show. Each of these will stage one race on Saturday and another on Sunday.
As if that wasn’t enough, GT1 Sports Club Powered by Curbstone stages its first event of the season, unleashing an incredible array of hyper-sports cars for a pair of non-competitive sessions on Sunday. There will also be two esports races staged on-site in the Fanatec Arena: the Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series takes place at 17:20 on Friday, while the new SRO Esports SIM Pro Series runs at 21:05 on Saturday evening. As always, fans are welcome to stop in at the Arena and check out the incredible hardware on display.
5. TITLE HOPEFULS LOOKING TO MAKE THEIR MARK
The Fanatec GT Europe campaign is well underway and we’re already seeing this season’s storylines begin to take shape. BMW dominated the Endurance Cup opener at Monza, banking a one-two finish courtesy of ROWE Racing, and the M4 runners head to France full of confidence.
In contrast, the Mercedes-AMG and Ferrari squads endured a tough weekend and will be keen to secure a big result at Circuit Paul Ricard – particularly with extra points on offer due to the longer duration. The Italian marque finished one-two at this event last term and has high hopes for its new 296 GT3.
As ever, the class battles add plenty more intrigue. Series newcomer Comtoyou Racing scored a sensational brace of wins at Monza by taking Gold Cup and Silver Cup honours, but its rivals will be keen to bring the Audi squad back down to earth. The Bronze Cup grid is booming and includes several top teams, while Pro-Am never fails to deliver its share of action.
In such a competitive series, there is almost no margin for error. Championships won’t be won at Circuit Paul Ricard, but any squad that has realistic title aspirations must ensure they leave this event with a strong result on the board.
Thinking of joining us at Circuit Paul Ricard? A full weekend ticket with access to the rooftop party costs just 30€. Ticket options are also available for Saturday (20€) and the full weekend (25€) without rooftop party access. Under-16s can attend for free, but must book their place alongside a paying ticketholder; for more info please click here.
The timetable is unique among Endurance Cup events, with all of the action taking place over two days. The Bronze Test kicks things off at 09:00 on Friday, followed by Free Practice (14:30) and Pre-Qualifying (19:40). Qualifying is scheduled for 11:05 on Saturday morning, while the main event begins at 18:00 CEST. The usual live streaming will be available in English, French, German and Italian via the GT World YouTube channel.
In terms of support events, the GT4 European Series, Lamborghini Super Trofeo and McLaren Trophy Europe will each stage a race on Saturday afternoon, before the Fanatec GT Europe contest gets underway, and another on Sunday. The Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series race takes place at 17:20 on Friday, while the new SRO Esports SIM Pro Series runs at 21:05 on Saturday. Each will contest a one-hour Assetto Corsa Competizione race in the Fanatec Esports Arena. GT1 Sports Club Powered by Curbstone has 25-minute sessions scheduled for 12:40 and 15:40 on Sunday afternoon.
This year’s trip to Circuit Paul Ricard will be 12th Fanatec GT Europe event staged at the track and the 62nd overall since the Endurance Cup launched in 2011. It is the final racing action before the marquee CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa, which is scheduled to run on 29 June–2 July.