Virtual GT racing set for Monza challenge
Virtual GT racing will take centre stage this weekend when real-world competitors and professional sim drivers go head-to-head in a hotly anticipated Assetto Corsa Competizione battle at Monza. The star-studded grid will be bolstered by a further 10 wildcard entrants selected via a public hot-lap competition that runs until Friday (27 March), with the final list of 90 hopefuls chasing victory in the SRO Charity Challenge.
Organised by SRO E-Sports GT Series, Kunos Simulazioni and Ak Informatica, Sunday’s event will raise money for the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, which supports the World Health Organisation and its partners in their response to the pandemic. All entrants have made a minimum €15 donation to the cause.
The field of battle will be Monza, which was scheduled to host the season-opening GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS round prior to the global health crisis. Having launched every Endurance Cup season since 2011, the iconic Temple of Speed was the natural choice for this weekend’s virtual contest.
All of the cars selected for the race have competed in real-world SRO series during recent seasons, 13 brands are represented, with Aston Martin, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Mercedes-AMG and Porsche machinery proving especially popular. The virtual world has also allowed a pair of fan favourites to make a welcome comeback, with the G3 Jaguar developed by Emil Frey Racing and Nissan‘s much-loved GT-R NISMO both on the entry list. Audi, Bentley, BMW, Honda, Lexus and McLaren complete an impressive field.
Professional racers from a variety of SRO championships across the globe have taken up the call to compete. Bentley factory driver Alex Buncombe leads the Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli contingent and will draw upon vast real-world experience of Monza’s high-speed layout. GT World Challenge Powered by AWS Europe stars Miguel Molina, Daniel Juncadella, Denis Lind, Christian Engelhart, Andy Soucek and David Perel will compete against American counterparts such as Colin Braun and Mason Filippi, while Martin Plowman will fly the flag for Intelligent Money British GT Championship. They will be joined by other real-world racers from around the world, with more than a dozen series set to be represented.
The list of top sim racers features reigning F1 Esports Series champion David Tonizza. He will be joined by two of his fellow FDA Hublot Esports Team drivers – Amos Laurito and Enzo Bonito – with all staying loyal to the Italian brand’s 488 GT3. Josh Martin, Kamil Pawlowski and FIA Motorsport Games gold medallist Cody Nikola Latkovski are among the others representing the sim community.
The action takes place this Sunday (29 March) when a full three hours of racing will be streamed live to the world. Proceedings begin at 13:30 CET with a qualifying recap followed by a pair of semi-finals, each featuring 45 drivers. The top-20 finishers from both will progress to the grand final, with a 15-minute qualifying session deciding the grid at 16:40. The deciding race is set to go green at 17:00 and like both semi-finals will run for one hour with no mandatory pit stop.
All three races will be streamed extensively across social media, with full broadcast details and commentary teams to follow ahead of the weekend. It promises to be an action-packed afternoon of virtual motorsport as real-world GT drivers measure their skills against the best the sim racing world has to offer.