The unique Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series, which sees real racing drivers compete in a virtual environment for points towards their real-world championship, returns for 2022, with the first round taking place at this weekend’s 3 Hours of Imola.
After proving a popular, if controversial, addition to the GT World Challenge Europe’s disciplines for 2021, the Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series will run again this season with a couple of significant rule changes.
Firstly there’s now more points on offer. Whereas the inaugural season awarded three points to the race winner, two for second, and one for third — in each of the Pro and Silver categories — there’ll be five points for each race winner in 2022, and points down to fifth place.
That means that there’s now a maximum of 25 points riding on the championship, which effectively comprises a third arm of the GT World Challenge Europe. Points gained in the Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series are added to the Endurance Cup and Sprint Cup to generate an overall score.
Teams with entries in both real-world championships will be required to field a driver in the Esports series too, one in each class in which they have a car. Any driver can race, but they must also be a member of the squad racing in the endurance event at the same round.
As with 2022, the series will stage a one-hour sprint race at each of the Endurance Cup rounds, at the same circuit. However one of the real-world circuits to stage a round this year — Hockenheimring — isn’t in Assetto Corsa Competizione, and that means this event will stage a race at a track selected by fan vote.
The full calendar is as follows:
- Round 1 – April 2 – Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Imola
- Round 2 – June 4 – Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet
- Round 3 – July 29 – Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps
- Round 4 – September 3 – Fan Vote (TBA)
- Round 5 – October 1 – Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya
A new format will see drivers participating in a hotlap qualifying session before the main event, which will whittle the entry list down to 24 cars: 12 from Pro, and 12 from Silver. These drivers will then enter final qualifying to set the grid for the one-hour race.
Once again there’ll be a Fanatec Arena at each venue, consisting of 24 identical cockpits. Each will use a Fanatec Rennsport V2 rig, with a Podium DD2 wheelbase, Podium Hub, Podium Wheel Rim R300, and Clubsport Pedal V3 set, all connected to an AK Informatica gaming PC.
2022’s entry list is already packed with top-tier GT3 drivers as the teams eye up the 25-point maximum. Defending Pro and Silver champions Emil Frey Racing and Madpanda will both field their most successful drivers from the 2021 season: Arthur Rougier and Ezequiel Perez Companc.
This year’s first round, at Imola, will start at 1705 UTC on Saturday April 2, and you can catch it in full below: