• Popular Italian track stages ninth Fanatec GT Europe Sprint Cup meeting on 14-16 July
• New benchmark set as Bronze Cup makes first appearance in Sprint competition
• Competitive Pro, Gold Cup and Silver Cup grids primed for second outing of 2023
The biggest field in the history of the Fanatec Europe GT Sprint Cup will travel to Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli next weekend (14-16 July) for the second stop on the 2023 schedule.
A remarkable 42-car grid will tackle a pair of races at the Adriatic circuit, including a strong Italian presence among the teams, drivers and brands. It marks the resumption of a Sprint campaign that kicked off at Brands Hatch in May and comes just two weeks after the marquee CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa.
The field has been greatly increased by the addition of the Bronze Cup class, which is also set to compete in the subsequent events at Hockenheim and Valencia. A handful of further additions brings the entry list to 42 cars, a number that may not be matched this season. As such, fans can expect a thrilling weekend as Sprint racing returns to centre stage.
PRO: Strong Audi contingent hoping to continue fine form at Misano
Misano has traditionally been a happy hunting ground for Audi. The Ingolstadt brand has racked up a total of 10 wins at the Italian track, including seven from the past eight and the previous five in succession. As such, the obvious place to begin is with the Tresor Orange1 pairing of Mattia Drudi and Ricardo Feller, who scored Race 2 victory at Brands Hatch and lead the standings heading to the squad's home event.
Series newcomer Comtoyou Racing also has the potential to feature at the front with its two-car operation. Christopher Haase and Lucas Legeret share the #11, while there is a similar blend of experience and youth in the #12 of Fred Vervisch and Nicolas Baert. Saintéloc Junior Team brings the Audi contingent to five with its pair of cars. Patric Niederhauser and Erwan Bastard make up the #25 crew, while two-time Misano winner Chris Mies is joined by Gregoire Demoustier in the #27.
Akkodis ASP scored the most recent win for a non-Audi squad when the #88 Mercedes-AMG of Raffaele Marciello and Timur Boguslavskiy triumphed in 2021. This firmly established duo looks well placed to take the fight to the R8 runners again in 2023, especially after bagging the opening victory of the season at Brands Hatch and taking a runner-up finish at the CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa.
In recent seasons, the success enjoyed by Audi at Misano has come courtesy of Team WRT with its #32 line-up of Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts. The Belgian duo have scored six wins at the track, but they will face an entirely new challenge this year following the team's switch to BMW. Can they add to their run of success with a very different car beneath them?
Whatever the outcome of the weekend, there is no question that the #46 Team WRT BMW will be the most popular entry on the grid. Valentino Rossi's hometown is just 15 kilometres from the circuit and, after a breakthrough podium at Brands Hatch, he and Maxime Martin will be targeting more success at Misano. A third Team WRT BMW combines youngsters Thomas Neubauer and Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer in the #31 machine.
Ferrari squad Emil Frey Racing showed excellent pace at Brands Hatch, though the final results did not quite match its speed. The Swiss team will once again deploy a pair of entries, with Giacomo Altoè and Konsta Lappalainen sharing the #14 alongside the #69 of Albert Costa and Thierry Vermeulen.
Garage 59 was the leading McLaren squad at the opener, which saw Benji Goethe and Nicolai Kjaergaard bag a fourth-place finish. They'll aim for more of the same at Misano, while the #111 JP Motorsport entry of Christian Klien and Dean MacDonald will hope to get off the mark after failing to score in Great Britain. Dinamic GT Huber Racing also endured disappointment at Brands Hatch, though the #54 Porsche of Christian Engelhart and Adrien De Leener was on course for a top-five finish in Race 1 before running dry on fuel at the line.
The Pro field is completed by local brand Lamborghini, which is represented by the #60 VSR entry of Jordan Pepper and Franck Perera. This driver line-up is more than capable of taking victory on home soil, which would represent the first for Lamborghini since 2019.
GOLD CUP & SILVER CUP: Competitive class battles set to resume on the Adriatic
With five strong entrants, it was expected that the Gold Cup would be a close contest this term. The early evidence suggests that to be accurate, with less than 10 points separating the field. Aurélien Panis and Alberto Di Folco (#9 Boutsen VDS Audi) lead the way after picking up the opening win at Brands Hatch, though they are just one point clear of Calan Williams and Niklas Krütten (#30 Team WRT BMW) who earned Race 2 honours at the British track.
The remaining three crews all field Audi equipment. The #26 Saintéloc Junior Team duo of Simon Gachet and Paul Evrard earned a pair of podiums at Brands Hatch, while Gilles Magnus and Finlay Hutchison (#21 Comtoyou Racing Audi) as well as Adam Eteki and Cesar Gazeau (#10 Boutsen VDS Audi) also banked top-three finishes. With so little to choose between them, this class battle is impossible to call.
The early pecking order is only a little clearer in the Silver Cup. Alex Aka and Lorenzo Patrese (#99 Tresor Attempto Audi) lead the standings after an up-and-down opening weekend that was highlighted by a win in Race 1. Frank Bird and Jordan Love (#77 HRT Mercedes-AMG) are second thanks to a pair of podiums at Brands Hatch, while fellow Mercedes-AMG squad Madpanda Motorsport also bagged a top-three with its #90 crew of Ezequiel Perez Companc and Jesse Salmenautio.
The #119 VSR Lamborghini pairing of Marcus Paverud and Baptiste Moulin earned Race 2 honours at the opener and should be a class contender again on home turf. The same team will field the #163 Lamborghini for Rolf Ineichen and Yuki Nemoto, while Monegasque squad GSM AB1 adds another Huracán for Fidel Castillo and Nicholas Risitano.
Though its car is Japanese, the trip to Misano is very much a home event for Nova Race. Indeed, the Varese-based squad will field a full complement of Italian drivers in its Honda NSX GT3 challengers: Leonardo Moncini and Jacopo Guidetti share the #28, while Diego Di Fabio and Erwin Zanotti handle the #68.
The Italian theme continues with the #71 AF Corse - Francorchamps Motors Ferrari. Teenager Nicola Marinangeli was impressive on his series debut and is again partnered by experienced GT campaigner Sean Hudspeth. Finally, Tresor Attempto Racing adds a second car to the Silver Cup grid for the all-Italian line-up of Pietro Delli Guanti and Alessio Deledda, who will share the controls of the #333 Audi.
BRONZE CUP: Highly competitive field as class makes Fanatec GT Europe Sprint Cup debut
Misano will welcome the Bronze Cup contenders to the grid as the popular new class makes its first-ever appearance at a Sprint event. A highly competitive field of 12 crews will do battle at the Italian track, including several who have enjoyed success elsewhere in Fanatec GT Europe.
Indeed, the #188 Garage 59 McLaren sees two-time Pro-Am champion Miguel Ramos joined by Henrique Chaves, with whom he secured title honours in 2021. AF Corse also brings a highly accomplished duo in its #52 Ferrari, with Louis Machiels and Andrea Bertolini continuing their long partnership.
As is the case in Endurance, Porsche is the best-represented Bronze Cup brand. The #44 CLRT entry features Steven Palette and a to-be-confirmed driver. Dinamic GT Huber Racing will field the #55 for Philipp Sager and Christopher Zoechling, while Pure Rxcing has Alex Malykhin and Ayhancan Güven in the #911. Herberth Motorsport completes the Porsche contingent with the familiar pairing of Ralf Bohn and Robert Renauer in its #91 machine.
Mercedes-AMG is also well represented by three cars. Reema Juffali will be the only female racer on the grid, joining Ralf Aron in the #81 Theeba Motorsport machine. French duo Eric Debard and Jim Pla link up in the #87 Akkodis ASP entry, while Sebastien Baud shares the #79 HRT entry with team boss Hubert Haupt.
The #66 Tresor Attempto Racing Audi pairs Andrey Mukovoz with factory driver Dennis Marschall. In the #112 McLaren, JP Motorsport team boss Patryk Krupinski will share with accomplished GT racer Norbert Siedler, who won the very first race at Misano in 2015. Imperiale Racing completes the grid with a one-off Bronze Cup entry for its home race. The experienced Loris Spinelli is partnered by Kyrgyzstani racer Dmitry Gvazava, who makes his series debut in the #126 Lamborghini.
HOW TO WATCH
The Misano weekend will use the standard Sprint Cup format, which begins with Free Practice and Pre-Qualifying on Friday. There will be a Qualifying session on Saturday morning, followed by Race 1 in the afternoon. The same schedule is repeated on Sunday with Qualifying 2 and Race 2. Live coverage begins on Saturday and continues throughout the weekend. As ever, it will be available across a variety of online platforms, including the GT World YouTube channel. Fans can watch free of charge on this non-geo-blocked stream, with commentary available in English, French, German and Italian.
Thursday 13 July
14:00-18:00 – Official Testing
Friday 14 July
09:00-10:20 – Free Practice
15:10-16:30 – Pre-Qualifying
Saturday 15 July
09:00-09:20 – Qualifying 1
14:00-15:00 – Race 1
Sunday 16 July
09:00-09:20 – Qualifying 2
14:00-15:00 – Race 2
• GT4 European Series Powered by Rafa Racing Club (2x 1-hour races)
• Clio Cup Series (2x 25-minute + 1 lap races)
• FFSA F4 French Championship (3x 20-minute + 1 lap races)
• Supersport (2x 30-minute races)
• GT4 Italy (2x 30-minute races)
• Porsche Club (Time Trials)
STATS & FACTS
• This will be the ninth Fanatec GT Europe event at Misano, which ties Brands Hatch as the most-visited Sprint Cup circuit. It is the only track that has been ever-present on the calendar since 2015.
• The 42-car grid confirmed for the event comfortably beats the previous Sprint Cup entry record of 38. Coincidentally, this was also set at Misano in 2016.
• Audi will be the best represented brand with 12 cars, followed by Mercedes-AMG (6), Lamborghini and Porsche (both 5). BMW, Ferrari and McLaren all have four entries, while Honda has two.
• Traditionally, this has been a very successful circuit for Audi. The Ingolstadt marque has 10 wins at Misano, including the past five in succession. Mercedes-AMG has three wins, followed by Ferrari (2), Lamborghini and Bentley (both 1)
• Much of the Audi success at Misano has come courtesy of Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts. They have seven wins from nine starts together at the Italian track, including clean sweeps in 2021 and 2022. This will be their first outing at the circuit in BMW machinery.
• Fred Vervisch (2016), Chris Mies (2018 x2), Franck Perera (2017), Norbert Siedler (2015) and Raffaele Marciello and Timur Boguslavskiy (2020) are the other past Misano winners on the entry list.
• Valentino Rossi is also a Misano winner: he earned three MotoGP victories at the track, triumphing in 2008, 2009 and 2014. The latter was his final grand prix motorcycle triumph on home soil.
• Series lap record: 1m30.942s – Dries Vanthoor, #32 Team WRT Audi (2022)