The 2023 Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS season kicks off next week at one of the sport’s most iconic venues. Monza is back on the calendar this year, hosting a three-hour Endurance Cup race that’s set to feature a colossal 55-car grid.
A visit to the high-speed Italian circuit should be on every fan’s bucket list. With full-weekend tickets available for 35€, Fanatec GT Europe is the ideal opportunity to experience the Temple of Speed, whether it’s trackside or in the paddock. Still need convincing? Here are five reasons to join us for the opening chapter of 2023.
IT’S BURSTING WITH HISTORY
Monza has more than a century’s worth of history, starting out as a high-speed oval in 1922 before developing into the modern circuit we know today. Parts of the old track still exist – they’re a big draw for race fans – while a strong sense of nostalgia is always in the air whether you’re at Rettifilo, Curva Grande or Parabolica.
Indeed, when walking around the venue you are reminded that the greatest drivers and cars in motorsport history have competed at the track. There are a handful of circuits – such as Suzuka, Spa-Francorchamps and Indianapolis – that every race fan must visit at least once. Monza definitely falls into this category.
THE LOCATION IS PRETTY SPECIAL, TOO
Monza also has the tremendous appeal of being based in a national park. In fact, it’s the largest walled park in Europe, so big that it can comfortably contain a race track and a golf course, with plenty of space left over for flora and fauna. If you like your circuits in scenic settings, Monza is the place for you.
Added to this, the circuit is located within the city of Monza, which is just 20 kilometres from Milan. Trains run frequently between the two cities and it’s a quick journey, so you can combine a weekend at the track watching GT cars with a few days sightseeing in a stunning region of Italy. Perfetto!
NEW SEASON INTRUIGE
The opening race of a new season is always special. It’s the first chance to see the full field in their fresh liveries and at this stage everyone is a title contender, so the atmosphere is at its very best.
There’s added interest in the paddock, too, with Team WRT (BMW) and Iron Lynx (Lamborghini) among the teams to change manufacturer over the winter. There are new cars from Ferrari (296 GT3), Porsche (911 GT3 R), Lamborghini (Huracán GT3 EVO2) and McLaren (720S Evo), while no fewer than eight teams will make their full-season debut at Monza.
With this being the start of a new campaign, there are a few rule changes to keep an eye out for. The class structure has been revised – it now runs Pro, Gold Cup, Silver Cup, Bronze Cup, Pro-Am – and a new wave-by rule will be used after safety car periods. All in all, there should be plenty to keep fans fully engaged throughout the weekend.
A STACKED GRID
The Fanatec GT Endurance Cup grid is booming, with 55 cars set to compete at Monza. For those keeping score, this will be the largest season-opening grid since 2017. There will be eight brands on-track, led by particularly big entries from Audi, Mercedes-AMG and Porsche, while Italian marques Lamborghini and Ferrari are also strong. With plenty more cars from BMW, McLaren and Aston Martin, the stage is set for a spectacular show.
There’s also plenty of star power among the drivers, including several Italian entrants. Local fans will be especially keen to see MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi, who made his series debut at this event all the way back in 2012. Mirko Bortolotti and Andrea Caldarelli are reunited in the #63 Lamborghini, while Ferrari has the likes of Davide Rigon and Antonio Fuoco. And while he now holds Swiss nationality, Mercedes-AMG ace Raffaele Marciello is a genuine crowd favourite at Monza.
AN ACTION-PACKED SUPPORT LINE-UP
In recent years it has become a tradition that GT2, GT3 and GT4 all come together for the season opener. That will be the case once again in 2023, with the Fanatec GT2 European Series and GT4 European Series both joining the party at Monza. The support line-up is completed by the Clio Cup Series, which brings its fleet of rapid hatchbacks to contest a pair of quick-fire races.
For the GT2 contingent, this represents the start of a third season of competition. The series continues to evolve, with revised rules and two new models ready to hit the gird this year. GT4 has a record 53-car grid for the opener, which should mean start-to-finish action on the 5.8km circuit. Like the Clio Cup Series, both GT2 and GT4 will run a pair of races during the weekend.
There’s also virtual action in the paddock, with the Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series and the new SRO Esports Sim Pro Series staging their season-opening races in the Fanatec Esports Arena. With close to five hours of support racing on-track and two hours of esports, there’s plenty to keep fans entertained.
Thinking of joining us at Monza? Entry to the circuit is entirely free of charge on Friday, parking included. Entry for Saturday and Sunday costs 20€ and 25€ respectively, while a full weekend ticket costs 35€. All purchased tickets include access to all paddock areas.
Children up to six years and people registered as disabled may enter free of charge, while those aged between seven and 11 can attend on Saturday and Sunday for just 1€. Discounts are also provided for the under-24s, the over-65s and ACI members. More information is available at monzanet.it.
The weekend begins on Friday with the Bronze test. This one-hour session is predominantly for Bronze drivers, though some Silvers are eligible should they meet certain criteria. Saturday is all about prep work: free practice begins at 09:00 while pre-qualifying kicks off at 13:40, both lasting 90 minutes. The serious action takes place on Sunday with qualifying at 09:00 and the season-opening race at 15:00.
It’ll be easy for spectators to stay up to speed with all the action on Saturday and Sunday thanks to a giant screen situated opposite the grandstand at the Variante del Rettifilo chicane. What’s more, a pit walk will be organised between 18:40 and 19:30 on Saturday evening to give fans a behind-the-scenes look at the field of 2023.
The Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series race takes place in the Fanatec Esports Arena at 18:00 on Saturday evening. All Pro, Gold Cup and Silver Cup teams must field one of their drivers to contest a 60-minute Assetto Corsa Competizione race, with points scored on a 5-4-3-2-1 basis and counting towards the real-world teams’ championships.
In a new addition for 2023, a second Assetto Corsa Competizione contest will bring together top professional sim racers from across the continent. The SRO Esports Sim Pro Series will run on Sunday, with 23 of the 24 entries confirmed in advance; the final slot at each event will be determined by a last-chance qualifier hosted on-site.
In terms of the on-track support events, the Fanatec GT2 European Series will stage two 50-minute races: the first runs at 12:35 on Saturday, while the second takes place on Sunday at 10:35. The GT4 European Series also has two races, which last for one hour and run at 16:50 on Saturday and midday on Sunday. Finally, the Clio Cup Series will stage two races of 25 minutes + 1 lap at 15:45 on Saturday and 13:35 on Sunday.
If you can’t make it to the track there will be plenty of options to watch from home. As ever the race will air live and free of charge on the GT World YouTube channel, with commentary in English, French, German and Italian. Further information on streaming and television broadcasts will be provided ahead of the event.
This year’s trip to Monza takes the Fanatec GT Endurance Cup back to the scene of its very first race in 2011. The upcoming contest will be the 11th staged at the Italian venue and the 61st in series history. It will be followed by the Fanatec GT Sprint Cup opener at Brands Hatch (13–14 May) before further long-distance races at Circuit Paul Ricard (2–4 June) and the marquee CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa (29 June–2 July).