GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS has released updated entry lists for its Endurance and Sprint championships which are due to start over the next few weeks.
GTWC Europe published its original full-season entry lists in March but changes to several teams’ programs during the coronavirus pandemic have led to an update.
The Endurance Cup field was originally set at 53 cars but this has been reduced following 11 withdrawals, while Sprint Cup has lost 10 cars over the last few months.
There is still plenty of variety in terms of manufacturer participation, with 11 brands on the full-season Endurance grid and six represented in Sprint.
R-Motorsport’s recent announcement of its 2020 GT racing sabbatical is reflected in the Swiss outfit’s withdrawal of three Aston Martin Vantage GT3s from each series.
Optimum Motorsport has withdrawn a car from both competitions while fellow McLaren 720s GT3 squad Jenson Team Rocket RJN is no longer competing in Endurance.
Elsewhere in Endurance Cup, Sainteloc Racing has scratched one of its three Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evos while SPS Automotive Performance has reduced its Mercedes-AMG presence to a single car.
Another Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo operator in HTP-Winward Motorsport has scaled back its program and is no longer competing in the Silver class.
Quadruple Endurance Cup champion Team WRT has also pulled one of its Audis whilst maintaining a three-car squad.
AF Corse’s No. 71 Ferrari is no longer on the list but the manufacturer announced on Wednesday morning that its SMP Racing entry would be returning as part of an increased effort in the top category for the Italian manufacturer.
In terms of other additions, Garage 59 is fielding a second Aston Martin Vantage GT3 while new part-season programs are also expected for 59 Racing (McLaren), GetSpeed Performance and JP Motorsport (both Mercedes-AMG).
In Sprint Cup, three of the withdrawals come from R-Motorsport which was originally fielding two Aston Martins in the Pro class for overall honors and one in Silver Cup.
2 Seas Motorsport, which had two McLarens ready, has abandoned both planned entries for what would have been its debut season the Sprint championship.
As is the case in Endurance Cup, Team WRT has pulled an Audi while Optimum Motorsport’s No. 68 McLaren and AF Corse’s No. 52 Ferrari have disappeared from Silver.
AKKA-ASP has dropped out of Pro-Am, while Rinaldi Racing won’t be contesting the Silver class in either Endurance or Sprint after its driver Rinat Salikhov picked up an injury ruling him out for the season.
Ratel “Immensely Proud” of Grid Numbers
Stephane Ratel, whose SRO Motorsports Group runs the GT World Challenge, has hailed the 60-plus car count across both GTWC Europe series despite losing some cars.
Both Endurance Cup and Sprint Cup will comprise of four events, rather than the five held last season, but race formats have been adjusted to maintain a similar track time.
Endurance Cup will begin with the 3 Hours of Imola on July 26 – which Ratel reckons could attract 50 cars – while Sprint Cup kicks off at Misano in early August.
“Four months of inactivity and the impact of COVID-19 have, inevitably, led some teams to pause their activities,” said Ratel.
“In particular, the withdrawal of three full-season cars from R-Motorsport has been significant.
“Nevertheless, we remain immensely proud of the very competitive and diverse grids that we will see in GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS.
“For this, I must first thank our teams, as their determination to return to racing has been the driving force behind our efforts.
“To have 11 leading automotive brands on the Endurance Cup entry list is simply fantastic, while the Sprint Cup will once again feature a very high standard of competitors.
“In both cases, additional race-by-race entries will boost numbers and we expect to see around 50 cars on the grid at Imola.”