The third round of the Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series, the first ever virtual championship to award points towards a real-life motorsports series, will get underway today, at the famous Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.
Still only in its first season, the series pits real racing drivers against one another in the virtual environment in special live events. These take place during the race weekends of the real Endurance Series events, on a live stage – the Fanatec Arena – within the paddock of the main event.
This weekend is one of the showpiece races on the GT World Challenge tour, the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa. Ahead of the race, which gets underway at 1430 UTC on Saturday July 31, each of the teams on the Pro and Silver grids will send a single nominated driver to the hour-long sprint race on Assetto Corsa Competizione.
A recent update to the title means that all of the 2021 teams are now properly represented, so the grid will look close to identical to the one that lines up later today on the real grid.
With two rounds run so far, it’s Emil Frey Racing that leads the way in the Pro category, having scored four points through Arthur Rougier’s win in the Lamborghini at Monza and third place at Paul Ricard. The team is actually tied with AKKA, with Daniel Juncadella finishing second in class in both races, while Team WRT’s Kelvin van der Linde won last time out in France. All three return to represent their teams for the race at Spa, with success ballast appropriate to their results at Paul Ricard.
Unsurprisingly, it’s Rinaldi Racing that tops the Silver category. The team boasts sim racer turned racing driver — and sim-racing coach — David Perel among its squad, though Perel isn’t the nominated driver. That’s possibly due to his Coach Dave Academy’s association with the series. Instead the team’s four points have come from Nicolas Varrone’s class win at Paul Ricard, and Benjamin Hites’ class third at Monza. Fabrizio Crestani will race for the team this time round.
There’s a points tie for second in the class, with Ryuichiro Tomita’s class win in Monza putting Team WRT ahead of defending champions Madpanda, represented by Ezekiel Companc. Crestani and Companc will carry 30kg and 10kg of success ballast respectively, with Emil Frey’s Alex Fontana carrying 15kg thanks to a second-place class finish at Paul Ricard.
The race gets underway at 1340 UTC today, and you can watch it in full below: