The 2023 season has got off to an excellent start for the manufacturers battling for the 2023 Fanatec GT World Challenge Powered by AWS title, and with five events completed – two in America, two in Australia and one in Europe – Porsche has a narrow lead over reigning Champion Mercedes-AMG, while Audi Sport and BMW M are in close contention for third place.
Porsche 911 GT3 R Project Manager, Sebastian Götz, was justifiably pleased with the performance so far: “Our customers are racing all over the world at the great SRO Events. Being part of the Fanatec GT World Challenge is a great opportunity to see our Teams and Porsche cars racing on four continents and fighting for an overall manufacturer championship. The 2023 season start was really strong for Porsche, and leading this important championship gives us a very positive push, knowing that there is still a long way to go and more than 40 races left to collect points…”
The 2023 season started at the Californian circuit of Sonoma, and Porsche took an early lead with wins in both Pro and Pro-Am categories in the first ninety-minute race, for RS1 and Wright Motorsports respectively. Reigning Champions Mercedes-AMG fought back in race 2, when the CrowdStrike by Riley Mercedes-AMG claimed the overall win and maximum points. Nevertheless, Porsche left California in the lead.
Australia got underway the week after, when Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia headed to the magnificent Bathurst Mount Panorama circuit. With a field dominated with Audi and Mercedes cars, the two one-hour races gave Audi Sport a real boost with two overall wins for the Shannons Insurance duo of Talbot and Hofer, while Audi cars also dominated the Am category. However, Porsche’s second place in race 1 with EMA, and Mercedes-AMG’s second for Triple Eight Race Engineering in race 2, kept the early leaders in contention.
The Autodromo Nazionale di Monza hosted the first European round, with a bumper grid of 55 cars taking part in a three-hour endurance race. BMW emerged victorious, with Rowe Racing taking a resounding one-two in the 17-strong Pro category. Along with good results in Gold Cup, Bronze Cup and Pro-Am they scored 1512 points. Close behind was Audi Sport, with new entry ComToYou Racing victorious in both the Gold and Silver Cups. Lamborghini and McLaren also claimed their first points of the year, while Mercedes-AMG and Porsche continued to accumulate points, resulting in Porsche leaving the event with a narrow 19-point lead over Mercedes.
The last weekend of April saw the first double-header of the season, with the second rounds in both Australia and America. Fanatec GT World Challenge America was racing at NOLA Motorsports Park in New Orleans, Louisiana. In the first race, RS1’s Porsche took their second win of the season, followed by Conquest Racing’s Ferrari and Bimmerworld's BMW, while Wright Motorsports again won Pro-Am for Porsche. CrowdStrike by Riley won overall and Pro-Am in their Mercedes, with Bimmerworld ‘s BMW in second place and the leading Pro.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, the Australian teams had headed west to Perth. Porsche continued to dominate in the first one-hour race, with a victory for The Bend Motorsport Park ahead of Triple Eight Race Engineering’s Mercedes and the Audi of Jamec Racing. In the second race, however, it was an Audi one-two for Shannons Insurance and Jamec Racing. Schunacher M’Sport was victorious in both races in the AM category with their Audi.
After five race meetings, nine races and a total of 13 hours of racing, Porsche leads Mercedes-AMG and Audi Sport, with BMW M in a very close fourth. (standings here)
The season now continues with a triple-header. The Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS crosses the English channel for the first Sprint Cup race of the season, at the Kent circuit of Brands Hatch. And over in Thailand, the 2023 Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia will get away at Chang International, where all seven Fanatec GT World Challenge manufacturers are in contention. Finally, Australia will hold its third round at Phillip Island.