The groundbreaking Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series enters its fourth of five rounds this season with a trip to the Nurburgring.
In a world first, this virtual race series is part of a real-world championship. For each round of the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Series — also now sponsored by Fanatec — there is a one-hour esports race live at the venue. Each of the teams entered into real race, in either the Pro or Silver category, enters one of its drivers from the real car for the virtual event, and points are awarded towards the overall championship.
It’s only a small number of points — three for the win, two for second, and one for third — but it could prove crucial across the whole season. That’s very much the case in the Silver Cup at the moment, with half a point separating the top two teams, and leaders Team WRT outscoring second place AKKA by a point in the esports series.
Form has been hard to come by in the virtual event, particularly in the Pro class which has seen three different winners from three events. Arthur Rougier (Emil Frey Lamborghini) took the first win at Monza, with Kelvin van der Linde (Team WRT Audi) winning at Paul Ricard, and David Pittard (Walkenhorst BMW) last time out at Spa. However, unlike the others, Rougier has finished on the podium in all three races to give Emil Frey the lead on six points ahead of AKKA on four.
The Silver Cup has seen a little more dominance, from an expected squad if not the driver you’d think. Rinaldi Racing has not only finished on the podium in all three races, it’s won the last two in a row courtesy of Nicolas Varrone and Fabrizio Crestani. The team includes esports expert David Perel in its squad, though he hasn’t yet taken part — and won’t again this weekend.
Only one other squad has a 100% podium record in Silver Cup, with the Madpanda outfit founded by Ezekiel Companc, who’ll be driving again this weekend. Companc is an accomplished sim-racer himself, and was a regular in some of the impromptu events organized across 2020’s motorsports hiatus.
Success ballast will likely play a role this week, with Rinaldi carrying 30kg, Madpanda 15kg, and AKKA on 10kg in the Silver Cup. Walkenhorst will have the maximum 30kg in Pro, with Emil Frey on 15kg and GPX on 10kg.
The race will get underway at 1645 UTC, and you can catch it all below:
See more articles on 2021 GT World Challenge.