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GT World Challenge Europe

Endurance Cup Season to Kick Off with 46-Car Field at Imola

Large Endurance Cup field set for three-hour GTWC Europe curtain-raiser…

Photo: Dirk Bogaerts/SRO

A total of 46 cars are set to contest the opening round of the 2020 GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup season taking place at Imola this weekend.

The delayed start to the 10th edition of SRO’s European long-distance GT3 series kicks off with its first three-hour race at the former San Marino Grand Prix venue, which has replaced Monza on the revised 2020 schedule.

A total of 23 cars are set to compete for overall honors in the top Pro division, while there are 10 cars expected in the Silver Cup category plus 12 in Pro-Am and one in Am.

Almost all of the Pro lineups have been confirmed on the entry list, although there are still some gaps to fill at Attempto Racing which has yet to name its full driving crew.

The German team’s No. 66 Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo is the only car without any drivers listed, while Frederic Vervisch and Mattia Drudi are set to drive the team’s No. 55 machine.

Elsewhere in Pro, there is a TBA slot next to Mirko Bortolotti and Kelvin van der Linde in the No. 31 WRT Audi that the factory pairing has been due to share with Rolf Ineichen.

Reigning Endurance Cup and GTWC Europe overall drivers’ champions Andrea Caldarelli, Dennis Lind and Marco Mapelli will launch their title defense at Imola in the No. 63 Orange 1 FFF Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo.

FFF has a car in every class except Am, while fellow Lamborghini outfit Emil Frey Racing is returning to GTWC Europe with two Pro cars after skipping the 2019 season to focus on the International GT Open series, which it won.

There has been one change in FFF’s Silver Cup crew in which Lamborghini Super Trofeo specialist Andrea Amici has taken the place of American driver Taylor Proto.

Last year’s runner-up squad SMP Racing returns with its Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo that now counts ex-Formula 1 driver and GT racing debutant Sergey Sirotkin among its crew, along with the returning Davide Rigon and Miguel Molina.

Unlike last season, SMP isn’t the sole Ferrari entrant in Pro. AF Corse’s 488 will be driven by FIA WEC regulars Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado and Nicklas Nielsen.

Haupt Racing Team, the new Mercedes-AMG affiliate consisting of former Black Falcon senior staff, will make its Endurance Cup debut with a car each in Pro and Silver Cup.

There are also new Pro-class programs from Bentley customers K-PAX Racing and CMR, as well as 59Racing which is staging to McLaren’s return to the series after a year out.

Seven manufacturers are represented in Pro with Porsche also involved through single-car efforts from ROWE Racing, Dinamic Motorsport and defending Total 24 Hours of Spa winner GPX Racing.

Additionally, Tech 1 Racing is running a Lexus RC F GT3 in Silver Cup, while there are two Garage 50-run Aston Martin Vantage GT3s across the Silver and Pro-Am classes and a single BMW M6 GT3 entered into Pro-Am by Boutsen Ginion Racing.

Endurance-info reports that the SPS Automotive Performance Mercedes that was intended for Am Cup will now race in Pro-Am after the team added Nico Bastian to its lineup.

This weekend’s event, which is being held without public access, will be supported by the GT4 European Series and Formula Renault Eurocup.

GTWC Europe Endurance Cup track action begins on Friday, Jul. 24 with a series of testing sessions in preparation for Free Practice and qualifying on Saturday.

The three-hour race is scheduled to go green on Sunday, Jul. 26 at 1:30 p.m. CEST (7:30 a.m. EST). TV and live streaming coverage will be available.

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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