- Endurance Series in Europe, Asia and America merge to create comprehensive global championship
- Pro and Silver categories introduced for Intercontinental GT Challenge Esports and continental Sprint Series
- Entry fee and prize pool restructured, additional bonuses for top-10 teams and drivers.
The GT World Challenge Esports Endurance Series in Europe, Asia and America will join forces this year to form the new Intercontinental GT Challenge Esports, bringing together the best sim racers from across the globe to compete at five iconic venues.
Organized by SRO Motorsports Group and Ak Esports in partnership with AWS, Fanatec, Kunos Simulazioni, Pirelli and The Sim Grid, utilizing the highly authentic physics and unmatched driving realism of Assetto Corsa Competizione, the new championship will tackle legendary long-distance events such as the 24 Hours of Spa and Bathurst 12 Hour. Pro and Silver categories will be implemented to ensure a more dynamic and competitive field, while this system will also be adopted by the continental GT World Challenge Esports Sprint Series, which will continue to run in Europe, Asia and America this season.
What’s more, a new entry fee and prize structure have been introduced for teams and drivers, with even more to play for in the Pro and Silver classes of each championship. The prizes on offer include Fanatec gear, VIP hospitality for events and track activities, bringing the total value of cash and sponsor products to €120,000.
New year, new series
The new Intercontinental GT Challenge Esports will test competitors at five of the world’s best-known and most demanding venues. It kicks off on 16 April when the Bathurst 12 Hour is staged at the iconic Mount Panorama, followed by the Suzuka 10 Hours (21 May) at Japan’s legendary figure-eight circuit.
The biggest challenge of the season will see competitors undertake a grueling twice-around-the-clock contest when the 24 Hours of Spa runs on 18-19 June. The California 8 Hour at Laguna Seca (16 July) and the Kyalami 9 Hour (27 August) will conclude the campaign and decide the destination of the title.
Each continental GT World Challenge Esports Sprint Series will also consist of five rounds in 2022. In Europe, the championship will play out with 60-minute contests at Misano (6 April), Zandvoort (4 May), Nürburgring (8 June), Hungaroring (6 July) and Monza (3 August). In a change from 2021, each European event will run on a Wednesday.
The Asian season will begin at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on 13 April before tackling Imola (11 May), Bathurst (15 June) and Zolder (13 July). It concludes on home turf with a deciding round at Suzuka on 24 August. Like its European counterpart, the GT World Challenge Asia Esports will also take place on Wednesdays in 2022.
For American competitors, each event is scheduled to run on a Saturday. Zolder kicks off the action on 23 April followed by Silverstone (28 May), Kyalami (25 June) and Donington Park (9 July). There will be a home finale for the American contingent, too, with Laguna Seca wrapping up the season on 13 August.
New Pro and Silver categories launched
A new driver rating system is set to be implemented in 2022, using last year’s performances as a guide. Any driver who scored at least 25 points in the European championship, or at least 15 points in the Asian or American championships, will be eligible for entry to the Pro category. Those who did not reach this points threshold will qualify for the Silver category.
Pro line-ups for Intercontinental GT Challenge Esports will be nominated by manufacturers and must feature at least two Pro drivers at each round, while manufacturers may nominate a maximum of two cars each for Sprint Series events.
Should they not do so, these slots will be awarded via a qualification process for Pro-ranked sim drivers. Every team nominated by a manufacturer will be automatically considered Pro, as will its drivers. In the Silver category, there can be only one Pro driver per Intercontinental GT Challenge Esports team.
Following manufacturer nominations, the qualification process for the remaining Pro team slots will take the form of hot-stint qualifying at two different tracks featured on the calendar. Drivers must set five valid laps during a stint, within 107% of their fastest time and without returning to the pits. The fastest stints from each driver are then combined to make a team average. The top-ranked teams on the leaderboard will be eligible to race in the Pro class.
In the Silver category, 3 drivers must set a hot-lap around three tracks from the calendar. The combined average of all three times at all three circuits is placed on the leaderboard, with the top-24 ranked teams eligible to compete in the Silver class.
Entry fee, prize pool and testing for balance of performance
Thanks to a restructured entry fee and prize pool, the 2022 season will see more drivers rewarded in both the Pro and Silver classes of Intercontinental GT Challenge Esports and the continental Sprint Series.
Pro and Silver drivers will have their own prize pool and entry fee for the year, which will cover all races during the 2022 season. The prize pool will reward the top-10 teams in the Pro class, and the top-10 drivers in Silver, with a grand total of €120,000 in cash and sponsor’s products available to be won.
Additional prizes will be awarded to teams and drivers in the top-10, including Fanatec and AK Informatica gear, VIP hospitality for a selected race event, and track activities
What’s more, a new testing format will be introduced this season to ensure that the series remains as competitive as possible. Thanks to a new Balance of Performance (BOP) method, drivers can request a test in different machinery. They can then compare data and times should they feel another competitor has an advantage within the game, ultimately leading to fairer racing and closer on-track competition.
Entries for the Silver class will open first. For those hoping to compete in the continental Sprint Series, the qualification phase begins on 21 February, while Intercontinental GT Challenge Esports qualifying commences on 28 February. For drivers eligible to compete in the Pro categories, qualification begins on 14 March for the Sprint Series and on 21 March for Intercontinental GT Challenge Esports.
With new initiatives in place and a consolidated global endurance series set to launch, the season ahead promises to take the competition to the next level.