• Endurance Cup campaign set to culminate with three-hour contest at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya
• Biggest-ever entry list for Barcelona event with 54 cars confirmed
• Titles to be decided in all classes as long-distance championship draws to a close
The final chapter of the 2023 Fanatec GT Europe Endurance Cup will be written next weekend when the long-distance championship stages its season finale at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
A 54-car field will compete at the 4.7km circuit, representing the biggest entry list in the popular event's eight-year history. With a clutch of championships to be settled, there is certain to be plenty of drama in this year's Spanish showdown.
Akkodis ASP and ROWE Racing have been the star performers the 2023 season, so it is no surprise that they will fight it out for the Endurance Cup title. The former fields its familiar #88 Mercedes-AMG for Marciello/Gounon/Boguslavskiy, while the latter entrusts its #98 BMW to Eng/Wittmann/Yelloly.
The advantage is clearly with Akkodis ASP, which enjoys an 18-point lead in the drivers' standings and is 15 points ahead in the teams' championship. As such the pressure is on ROWE Racing to win at Barcelona – something never previously achieved by a BMW. Both teams can count on second cars, which could prove pivotal in the outcome of the teams' championship.
For the remainder of the Pro runners, the trip to Spain will be about finishing the season in the best possible manner and establishing a benchmark for 2024. Team WRT will field two Pro cars as it targets a maiden Endurance win with BMW. Victory will certainly be the objective for Mercedes-AMG Team AlManar, which secured back-to-back podiums at Spa and the Nürburgring.
Audi will be represented by a trio of Pro crews, with Tresor Orange1, Comtoyou Racing and Saintéloc Junior Team all fielding the Ingolstadt marque's machinery. Further entries representing McLaren (Garage 59), Porsche (Dinamic GT, Rutronik Racing), Ferrari (AF Corse - Francorchamps Motors) and Lamborghini (Iron Lynx, K-PAX Racing) complete a 17-car Pro field.
GOLD CUP & SILVER CUP
The Gold Cup drivers' title is within grasp for Comtoyou Racing duo Nicolas Baert and Maxime Soulet, who are rejoined for the finale by Max Hofer. The #21 Audi only needs to finish to capture the crown, though Optimum Motorsport (McLaren) and Winward Racing (Mercedes-AMG) are ready to pounce should the Belgian squad hit trouble.
The Gold Cup teams' championship is considerably closer. Winward Racing is just six points back and has a second crew to support its assault. A total of seven cars will compete for class honours at the finale, with BMW and Lamborghini entries also among them.
The battle for the Silver Cup drivers' title is the closest heading to Barcelona. The #85 Grasser Racing Lamborghini crew of Hites/Schmid/Van Berlo top the drivers' standings, five points ahead of Dejonghe/Hezemans/Hutchison (#12 Comtoyou Racing Audi), while the #99 Tresor Attempto Audi of Aka/Delli Guianti/Patrese is also in play.
Grasser Racing enjoys a healthier 18-point advantage in the teams' standings thanks to the contribution of its #58 Lamborghini (Crestani/Neary/Tweraser). There is further Audi representation in the Silver Cup, as well as entries for Aston Martin, Mercedes-AMG and Porsche. AF Corse adds a Ferrari to the mix, with a one-off entry for Wadoux/Sbirrazzuoli/Franco completing a 10-car field.
BRONZE CUP & PRO-AM
The Bronze Cup field completed its Sprint campaign at Valencia, making this the overall season finale for the class. As such, all titles will be settled when the chequered flag falls on Sunday afternoon. In the battle for the Endurance crown, Sky Tempesta Racing leads the way with the #93 McLaren of Froggatt/Hui/Cheever, whose record of four podiums puts them seven points clear at the top of the standings.
They are pursued by Haupt/Baud/Maini (#79 HRT Mercedes-AMG), while Porsche squads Herberth Motorsport (Bohn/A.Renauer/R.Renauer) and Pure Rxcing (Malykhin/Sturm/Bachler) are also in contention. A further 12 cars will compete in the Bronze Cup, with additional machinery from BMW, Ferrari and Lamborghini.
The Pro-Am drivers title has already been settled in favour of Jacoma/Leutwiler/Fontana (#24 Porsche), who will clinch the teams' championship for Car Collection Motorsport by finishing on Sunday afternoon. The only squad that can feasibly stop them is Barwell Motorsport (Lamborghini), while ST Racing by Rinaldi (Ferrari) and GetSpeed (Mercedes-AMG) will add further cars to the Pro-Am field.
Friday 29 September
09:00 – 10:00: Official Test Session 1
13:20 – 14:20: Official Test Session 2
16:50 – 17:50: Bronze Test
Saturday 30 September
09:00 – 10:30: Free Practice
13:25 – 14:55: Pre-Qualifying
Sunday 1 October
09:45 – 10:45: Qualifying
15:00 – 18:00: 3-Hour Race
All times are CEST
• GT4 European Series Powered by Rafa Racing Club (2x 1-hour races)
• McLaren Trophy Europe (2x 50-minute races)
• GT1 Sports Club by Curstone (2x track sessions)
STATS & FACTS
• This will be the first time since 2018 that the Endurance Cup finale does not mark the end of the season. A concluding Sprint Cup round will take place at Zandvoort on 14-15 October.
• The 54-car entry list is the biggest seen at the event, beating the 53-car grid from 2018. In the previous five Endurance races at the track, the average grid has been 48 cars.
• There are seven previous Barcelona winners on the entry list: Klaus Bachler (2022), Rafaelle Marciello (2021), Jules Gounon (2021), Andrea Caldarelli (2019), Marco Mapelli (2019), Maro Engel (2018) and Luca Stolz (2018).
• The event has traditionally been a happy hunting ground for Mercedes-AMG, which scored overall wins in 2021, 2019 and 2017. Porsche (2022) and Lamborghini (2019) have one win each.
• Fanatec GT America regular Manuel Franco makes his European bow at the event. An experienced competitor in Ferrari machinery, Franco will drive the Italian marque's #53 AF Corse entry in the Silver Cup.
• Two more drivers will make their series debuts in Spain: Pierre-Louis Chovet will pilot the #19 Iron Lynx Lamborghini; and Lorcan Hanafin will join the #38 ST Racing with Rinaldi Ferrari crew.
• Fastest race lap in 2022: 1m46.618s (Raffaele Marciello, #88 Mercedes-AMG)