In years to come, 2023 is sure to be looked back on as a truly vintage campaign for Fanatec GT Europe.
This season brought record numbers to the Sprint Cup, culminating in a thrilling finale at Zandvoort. The Endurance Cup was also at full strength, matching its biggest average grid. As ever its highlight was the CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa, which marked its 75th edition and laid the foundations for next year’s centenary celebrations.
As well as action on the track, 2023 produced a wealth of noteworthy numbers and fascinating facts. With the engines now silent for the winter, it is the ideal time to dig into some data.
• The #88 Akkodis ASP line-up of Marciello/Gounon/Boguslavskiy won the Endurance Cup drivers' title despite not finishing the season-opening race at Monza. This marks the first time since 2013 that the championship-winning crew did not register points at the opening round; coincidentally, both ran Mercedes-AMG machinery.
• Akkodis ASP was not alone in making a bad start before recovering to take the title. The Silver Cup and Pro-Am champions did the same, with Grasser Racing and Car Collection Motorsport also failing to see the chequered flag at Monza.
• The #98 ROWE Racing BMW was the only car to complete every single lap of the 2023 Endurance Cup season, a total of 994. This is the second season in succession that ROWE has achieved this feat: the sister #998 BMW did the same in 2022, completing 1,004 laps.
• Four of this season's five Endurance races were won from pole, more than in any previous season. The exception was at the CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa, where the victorious ROWE Racing BMW started from 26th. Only once in 65 Endurance Cup races has a car triumphed from further back.
• Eight teams representing six different brands scored an overall Endurance Cup podium this term. Akkodis ASP was the most successful, taking two wins and a runner-up finish, while ROWE Racing earned two wins and a P3. AF Corse was the other squad to take an overall victory, giving the Ferrari 296 GT3 its maiden triumph at Barcelona.
• The other teams to secure an Endurance podium in 2023 were AlManar (Mercedes-AMG), Tresor Orange1 (Audi), Scherer Sport PHX (Audi), Iron Lynx (Lamborghini) and Rutronik Racing (Porsche).
• The best overall Endurance result for a Gold Cup car was achieved by the #157 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG. The young trio of Born/Schumacher/Zug finished sixth at the Nürburgring, one place better than the #21 Comtoyou Racing Audi which finished in the opening race at Monza.
• GRT - Grasser Racing finished on the Silver Cup podium at every Endurance round this season on its way to a title double. The #85 Lamborghini of Hites/Schmid/Van Berlo earned two wins and two runner-up finishes to clinch the drivers' crown, while the sister #58 finished third at Monza and clinched victory at Barcelona.
• In the Bronze Cup, both Endurance titles were secured without winning a race. The #93 Sky Tempesta McLaren of Froggatt/Hui/Cheever took a pair of runner-up finishes and two third places before coming home sixth at the finale.
• It was appropriate that the annual Circuit Paul Ricard race achieved a new distance record of 1056.09km (183 laps) this term. After nine editions as a six-hour contest, next year's event will run for the standard three hours, opening the 2024 season on 5-7 April.
• Huber Motorsport secured Bronze Cup honours at the CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa. Remarkably, its #20 Porsche also started from overall pole following a dramatic and rain-affected qualifying process. This was the first time since 2013 that a car from outside the Pro category started the marquee race from pole.
• For the second time in five years, Pro-Am honours at the CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa went to a car that started from the pit lane. On this occasion it was the #75 SunEnergy1 Mercedes-AMG; in 2019, Oman Racing by TF Sport did so with its Aston Martin.
• Five different brands won the five classes at this year's CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa. BMW triumphed overall, McLaren in the Gold Cup, Lamborghini in the Silver Cup, Porsche in the Bronze Cup and Mercedes-AMG in Pro-Am.
• This year's edition of the Belgian endurance classic ran for 537 laps, one more than was completed in 2022. It featured 11 full-course yellow periods and nine safety cars, down from last year's totals of 12 and 15 respectively.
• The 2023 Fanatec GT Europe Sprint Cup was contested across 361 laps, with 10 hours of racing at five circuits in Great Britain, Italy, Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands.
• By winning the overall Sprint title, Mattia Drudi and Ricardo Feller gave Audi Sport a seventh drivers' crown. Tresor Attempto Racing took the teams' championship, the 10th for an Audi squad in 11 seasons.
• There is plenty to suggest that this was the most competitive Sprint Cup season since the championship began in 2013. Eight brands were represented, the most ever seen in the series, while a new record grid was set with 42 cars competing at Misano.
• Prior to this season, it had been six years since a Sprint Cup race was won from outside the top-six starting positions. In 2023 it happened three times: the #32 Team WRT BMW won from 13th at Valencia, while the #40 Tresor Orange1 Audi came from P7 at Brands Hatch and P9 at Zandvoort.
• Only three of this season's Sprint races were won from pole, the fewest since 2018. In contrast, last year saw eight wins from pole.
• A total of 11 crews secured an overall Sprint Cup podium this term, three more than in 2022. The title winning pair of Mattia Drudi and Ricardo Feller scored seven, closely followed by Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts with six. Runners-up Raffaele Marciello and Timur Boguslavskiy scored four, though all of these were race wins.
• The best average starting position in the Sprint Cup was achieved by the #69 Emil Frey Racing Ferrari. The pairing of Albert Costa and Thierry Vermeulen was consistently at the front, albeit without securing a pole position. The #69 crew's average qualifying position was 6.6, followed by the #40 Tresor Orange1 Audi (7.1) and the #88 Akkodis ASP Mercedes-AMG (9.4).
• Raffaele Marciello achieved the best individual qualifying average by securing two pole positions, a P2 and two P3 starts. The Mercedes-AMG driver holds the record for Sprint Cup poles with 14.
• The #30 Team WRT BMW of Niklas Krütten and Calan Williams finished third overall in the closing Sprint Cup race at Zandvoort. This was the only instance in either Sprint or Endurance of a car from outside the Pro class finishing on the overall podium.
• In 10 seasons of Sprint Cup competition, there had never previously been an Australian champion. This year, there were two. Gold Cup title-winner Calan Williams was joined by Jordan Love, who secured Silver Cup honours in the #77 HRT Mercedes-AMG.
• Bronze Cup contender Dennis Marschall put the #66 Tresor Attempto Racing Audi on overall pole at Valencia and also secured a P2 start at Hockenheim. No other car from outside the Pro class qualified on the front row at a Sprint event this season.
• With a total of 18 Sprint Cup wins, Audi was by far most successful brand across all classes this season. The Ingolstadt marque scored four overall victories, six each in the Gold Cup and Silver Cup, and two more in Bronze Cup.
• When it joined the schedule in 2022, the 4.6km Hockenheimring was the shortest track to stage an Endurance Cup round. This year it moved to the Sprint Cup, where it became the longest circuit. However it will surrender that title next year, as Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya returns to the Sprint calendar. The Spanish track is approximately 80 metres longer than Hockenheim.
• The 2024 calendar features eight of the circuits that were visited in 2023, while the order of events has also undergone a refresh. The Endurance Cup will begin at Circuit Paul Ricard (5-7 April) followed by the 100th anniversary CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa on 27-30 June. Up next is a trip to the Nürburgring on 26-28 July, while Monza moves from spring to autumn on 20-22 September. Finally, the series will break new ground by staging a six-hour race at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit on 21-23 November.
• The Sprint Cup will visit five familiar venues, though only three were part of this year's calendar. The traditional opener at Brands Hatch (4-5 May) is retained followed by the established events at Misano (17-19 May) and Hockenheim (19-21 July). On 23-25 August the series heads back at Magny-Cours after a one-year absence, while Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya re-joins the Sprint schedule to stage the finale on 11-13 October.