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GT World Challenge Europe

Imola Thursday Notebook

Sportscar365’s notebook ahead of the GTWC Europe Endurance Cup opener at Imola…

Photo: Patrick Hecq/SRO

***Imola marks the start of the 12th Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup season. The Italian venue hosted the 2020 curtain-raiser where WRT (overall, Audi), Barwell Motorsport (Silver, Lamborghini), Garage 59 (Pro-Am, Aston Martin) and CMR (Am, Bentley) took the class wins. This weekend represents only the second time that Monza has not opened the Endurance Cup. 

***There was no scheduled GT3 track action at a damp Imola on Thursday, although a four-hour paid testing session took place on Wednesday afternoon in a mixture of dry and wet conditions. Mercedes-AMG Team GetSpeed set the pace courtesy of a 1:40.816 effort from Steijn Schothorst. JOTA’s McLaren 720S GT3 was second, ahead of Mercedes-AMG Team Akkodis ASP.

***German and Italian commentary options have been added to the GTWC Europe live broadcasts for the 2022 season, in addition to English and French. All four audio feeds will be available on the GT World YouTube channel.

***Wolfgang Drabiniok and Ivan Nesta will be providing the German and Italian language commentary respectively.

***The entry list for the second season of the Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series has been released. Once again drivers from the GTWC Europe Endurance Cup field will compete against each other in the Fanatec Esports Arena. Dries Vanthoor, Luca Ghiotto, Nicki Thiim, Nicklas Nielsen and Dennis Lind are among the drivers taking part in Saturday’s season-opener at Imola, which includes 13 drivers in the Pro class and 16 in Silver Cup.

***More real-world points are on offer in Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series races. Points are now awarded for first to fifth place (5-4-3-2-1) rather than first to third. This means a team could bank up to 25 points for the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS overall or Silver Cup teams’ championships through its drivers’ sim racing results.

***The BMW M4 GT3 and the Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II are new vehicle additions to the Esports GT Pro Series, having been added to Assetto Corsa Competizione since last season.

***In a series first, the fourth round of the Esports GT Pro Series will be held on a track selected through a fan vote. This will take place in the Endurance Cup paddock at Hockenheim, which is not available on Assetto Corsa Competizione.

***Sky-Tempesta Racing launched its new Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo by unveiling and running the car at the Mercedes-Benz World test track situated within Brooklands, the world’s first purpose-built motor racing circuit located near Weybridge, UK.

***Sky-Tempesta has secured representation of the United Kingdom at the FIA Motorsport Games in October. It fielded the Team UK Ferrari in the 2019 Games in Rome with Froggatt and Flick Haigh driving. Sky-Tempesta also plans to enter select British GT races, starting at Oulton Park where Froggatt and Kevin Tse will share the wheel of the Mercedes-AMG.

***Madpanda Motorsport on Wednesday unveiled the new livery for ‘Marga’, the team’s Mercedes-AMG, in a live social media post. The Spanish squad has retained its black and white base colors with the phrase ‘Madpanda’ covering the car in grey graffiti-like text.

***Last year’s GTWC Europe pit stop regulations have been retained, with crews required to change tires and refuel at the same time. This procedure was introduced in 2021 to moderate costs by stopping a pit stop arms race between teams and promoting safety.

***A minimum refueling time for standard ‘mandatory’ pit stops (tires, fuel and driver change) will be set in the Balance of Performance for each event. As of Thursday evening, a minimum refueling time had not yet been published for Imola. There will also be a minimum refueling time for ‘short’ stops.

***SRO has updated how it defines the process of distributing penalties to crews that fail to abide by the refueling time limits. In 2022, a time penalty will be given and served at the next pit stop or at the end of the race. Last year there was a three-step system, starting with the minimum of a stop-go on the first offense, a stop-go of a duration equal to the surplus refueling time on the second offense, and a penalty at the stewards’ discretion for any further offenses.

***The maximum driving time per stint for each Endurance Cup driver remains at 65 minutes this season.

***The new Gold Cup class is eligible for the GTWC Europe Sprint Cup, according to the sporting regulations. In Endurance, the category permits Platinum/Silver/Bronze or Gold/Silver/Bronze combinations. In Sprint, the Silver and professional-rated drivers may team up for a Gold entry, but the class will only be held if at least three entries are received.

***SRO has introduced a sustainability competition aimed at motivating GTWC Europe teams to follow the organizing body’s environmental goals on the topics of carbon emissions, water and waste management. A collection of 15 criteria has been set for teams to tick off. When a team achieves one of the criteria, it earns a point. Trophies for the most sustainable teams in Endurance and Sprint will be awarded after the season.

***The Team Sustainability Challenge criteria in full: Euro 6 logistics trucks, e-scooter transportation in the paddock, hiring hybrid/electric vehicles, waste selection in the pits, recyclable materials for merchandise and promotions, eco-friendly uniforms, elimination of single-use plastic in pits, all uses tires sent to SRO’s recycling partner, active communication on environmental protection, environmental statements on printed and digital documents, choosing suppliers according to environmental criteria, renting equipment from local suppliers, carbon reduction plan, carbon assessment of events, offsetting greenhouse gas emissions and other carbon footprint reduction strategies.

***Intel company Mobileye has come on board as the title sponsor for SRO Motorsports Groups’ global esports series. The online-based competitions will be known as the Mobileye GT World Challenge Esports Championships in Europe, Asia, and America, and the new Intercontinental GT Challenge Esports Championship powered by Mobileye.

***The Mobileye sponsorship does not cover the Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series, but Mobileye branding will be seen at GTWC races around the world this year.

***In addition to Russian-born Akkodis ASP Team driver Konstantin Tereschenko, Barwell Motorsport’s Alex Malhykin is entered under a neutral flag due to the FIA restricting his and all Belarusian race licenses in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

***The only track action on Friday is a 60-minute Bronze driver test starting at 4 p.m. local time (10 a.m. ET). Imola has a compact schedule, with the official GTWC Europe practice sessions taking place on Saturday ahead of qualifying and the race on Sunday.

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

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