A total of 11 leading automotive brands will be represented when GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS makes its return to action later this month, with competitive entry lists confirmed for the hotly anticipated 2020 season.
The new campaign will begin at Imola, which hosts the opening Endurance Cup contest on 25/26 July, while Misano launches the Sprint Cup schedule on 7-9 August. In both cases, grid numbers remain high despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A 42-car field will contest the full Endurance Cup, which begins its 10th season of competition in Italy later this month. A total of 20 cars will feature full pro line-ups, with the remainder spread across the Silver Cup, Pro-Am and Am Cup classes. Additional race-by-race entries have already been confirmed, taking the number of regular competitors to 47, while more are expected at the marquee Total 24 Hours of Spa (22-25 October).
This year’s overall contenders include multiple entries for Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini, McLaren, Mercedes-AMG, Ferrari and Porsche, the latter pair expanding their Endurance Cup efforts in 2020. They will be joined by class entries for Aston Martin, BMW, Honda and Lexus, forming a typically competitive grid for the long-distance series. Indeed, with 11 brands on-track, this year’s championship will feature even more variety than in 2019.
Numbers also remain solid in the Sprint Cup, where 23 cars are set to contest 10 one-hour contests across four action-packed weekends. Audi, Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lexus and Mercedes-AMG will compete in the short-format series this term, with additional entries eligible to participate on a race-by-race basis.
The Sprint Cup will once again be headlined by the ultra-competitive battle for overall honours, while the popular Silver Cup class and an expanded Pro-Am grid will add further excitement to proceedings. GT Sports Club Europe will also join the grid at all four Sprint Cup weekends this season, taking the place of the Am Cup class. A total of 19 entrants will combine Endurance and Sprint programmes to compete for the combined GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS title.
A raft of new and returning teams will challenge the established order in 2020. CMR and K-Pax Racing will form part of an expanded Bentley roster, while Emil Frey Racing returns after switching to Lamborghini machinery. Mercedes-AMG has added a host of new squads, including full-season efforts for Haupt Racing Team, Madpanda Motorsport and SPS Automotive, while Reno Racing (Honda) and Optimum Motorsport (McLaren) bring even greater depth to the championship.
A revised schedule will see eight events staged between July and November, with the intended duration maintained thanks to added running at several venues. Following back-to-back Italian rounds GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS will contest a six-hour Endurance race at the Nurburgring on 5/6 September. Attention will then shift to the Sprint Cup, which tackles events at Magny-Cours (11-13 September), Zandvoort (25-27 September) and Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya (9-11 October). Titles will be decided at the Spanish venue, which like the Sprint Cup opener at Misano will run a trio of one-hour races.
Returning to the Endurance format, the marquee Total 24 Hours of Spa takes place on 22-25 October and will add an extra hour of competition to celebrate its once-in-a-lifetime autumn edition. Finally, the campaign will conclude at French venue Circuit Paul Ricard, which stages a six-hour race on 13-15 November.
Confirmation of this season’s competitors begins the final countdown to the opening Endurance Cup contest at Imola on 25/26 July. The full entry list for the Italian event, including the 2020 driver line-up, will be revealed one week before the action gets underway. The sense of anticipation is greater than ever before as GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS gets set to make its comeback.
Stephane Ratel, SRO Motorsports Group founder and CEO: “In March we announced our strongest grids ever, with 53 Endurance Cup entries and 33 in the Sprint Cup. Four months of inactivity and the impact of COVID-19 have, inevitably, led some teams to pause their activities. In particular, the withdrawal of three full-season cars from R-Motorsport has been significant.
“Nevertheless, we remain immensely proud of the very competitive and diverse grids that we will see in GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS. For this I must first thank our teams, as their determination to return to racing has been the driving force behind our efforts. To have 11 leading automotive brands on the Endurance Cup entry list is simply fantastic, while the Sprint Cup will once again feature a very high standard of competitors. In both cases, additional race-by-race entries will boost numbers and we expect to see around 50 cars on the grid at Imola.
“When the original GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS entry list was revealed, we promised to deliver a fantastic season of racing for our teams, drivers and fans. We are now in a position to do exactly this. Winter was longer than expected, but summer is here and it is time to get back on-track.”