The 2013 FIA GT Series championship is set to be decided at this weekend’s Baku World Challenge by Aztexnika, taking place in streets of the capital city of Azerbaijan, a country located at the crossroads of Asia and Europe.
Twenty eight cars are set to tackle the 2.721-mile street circuit featuring long straights along the coast, a very narrow and slow section within the city, as well as wide 180-degree hairpin, which in theory should provide a least one overtaking opportunity.
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An impressive eight different brands are represented in the season finale thanks to the addition of a number of one-off entries bringing in extra GT3-models such as the Corvette Z06 (1) and the Porsche 911 GT3-R (2), in addition to the usual brands McLaren (7), Audi (6), Mercedes (4), BMW (4), Lamborghini (3) and Ferrari (1).
The large entry list includes some of the best GT3 teams in the world, with the likes of Marc VDS Racing, WRT, Hexis Racing, Trackspeed and Phoenix Racing amongst others, all making the long journey to Azerbaijan.
The event also managed to attract some additional high profile works drivers such as Maxime Martin, Rob Bell, Marco Holzer, as well as the versatile Jeroen Bleekemolen and even McLaren F1-protégé Stoffel Vandoorne.
However, two teams that were on the initial provisional entry list have dropped out, as both Sport Garage Ferrari’s and the sole BMW Team India Z4 GT3 won’t show up.
While Petr Charouz and Jan Stovicek (HTP Charouz Mercedes) have already clinched the Gentlemen Trophy, most of the titles are still up for grabs, with the battle for the Pro Cup honors taking center stage.
Despite not having won a single Main race, Stéphane Ortelli and Laurens Vanthoor are leading the Pro Cup standings, with only a small 6-point margin to their Belgian Audi Club Team WRT team mates Frank Stippler and Edward Sandström.
Niki Mayr-Melnhof also still has a mathematical shot at winning the championship in a third WRT Audi, with a gap of 26 points and 34 points still to be awarded, although this appears though very unlikely.
With just 7 points needed to secure the teams title and knowing that the drivers title will go to one of his cars, team principal Vincent Vosse is adamant that both Audi’s will be allowed to race each other without any team orders, as has been the case all season.
In the Pro Am Cup, the No. 2 HTP Gravity Charouz entered Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 of Andreas Simonsen and Sergei Afanasiev currently holds a 19-point advantage over the Grasser Racing team Lamborghini Gallardo FL2 of Hari Proczyk, while his teammate Dominik Baumann lost his title shot after missing the last race at Navarra.
Both Nissan GT Academy Team RJN Nissans will not enter the final round of the championship, as the Japanese constructor chose to spend the remaining budget on seat time elsewhere for their Nismo Athletes. As a result HTP Gravity Charouz will take the Pro Am team trophy home.
In order to ensure a fair fight between full-season entrants, wild card entries (Callaway Competition, Hexis Racing, Marc VDS Racing, Molitor Racing Systems, Boutsen Ginion, Trackspeed, TDS Racing and Fortec Motorsport) are not eligible to score points, though with an attractive prize fund of €175.000 ($235.000), there’s still a lot to race for.