> 12 manufacturers amongst world’s most diverse GT3 grid
> Reigning champions Kimura and Cozzolino return with CarGuy Racing
> China Cup classification reflects influx of new and returning drivers
> Live J Sports TV coverage to continue in Japan
> Provisional 2023 entry list
2023’s Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS season looks set to be a record breaker following confirmation of the provisional entry list.
Numbers remain subject to change. However, 25 cars are expected to compete at the opening round in Thailand on May 12-14 before the grid considerably expands in size one month later at Fuji where the bulk of this year’s Fanatec Japan Cup contenders join for the first time. Indeed, 40 cars – a championship record – are currently scheduled to appear there.
The provisional entry list features no less than 12 GT3 manufacturers – a number currently unequalled anywhere in global GT racing. That’s partly thanks to the presence of Corvette, Lexus and Nissan whose models now rarely race outside of their native American and Japanese series.
All seven Fanatec GT World Challenge Powered by AWS-registered marques – that’s Audi, BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren, Mercedes-AMG and Porsche – are also present and eligible to score points counting towards a global title comprising a total of 29 races across four continental series.
Aston Martin and Honda complete the list of confirmed GT3 manufacturers, while Toyota’s GR Supra GT4 makes it 13 across both classes.
The entry is headed by reigning overall and Fanatec Japan Cup champions Takeshi Kimura and Kei Cozzolino whose new CarGuy Racing Ferrari 296 GT3 will contest the four Japanese events held at Fuji, Suzuka, Motegi and Okayama.
2023’s GT3 Pro-Am champion and overall runner-up Prince Jefri Ibrahim returns with Triple Eight JMR, while AMAC Motorsport’s Andrew Macpherson and Ben Porter are targeting a third consecutive Am class title.
But new GT4 champions are guaranteed following Brian Lee and Hideto Yasuoka’s switch to the GT3 ranks along with last year’s Fanatec Japan Cup class champions Hiroaki Hatano and Shinya Hosokawa. The majority of GT4’s entries will make their first appearances of the season at Fuji.
Several world-class Pro drivers also feature. They include Dennis Lind who returns for the first time since winning the title as a Lamborghini junior in 2018, Porsche pair Dennis Olsen and Patrick Pilet, BMW duo Jens Klingmann and Jesse Krohn, 2021 DTM champion Maximilian Goetz and his Mercedes-AMG factory colleague Luca Stolz, Supercars ace Broc Feeney and Alvaro Parente.
Elsewhere, the easing of post-pandemic travel restrictions has encouraged several new and returning Chinese teams and drivers to commit. This has prompted SRO Motorsports Group to create a new China Cup classification for crews comprising two drivers from the greater China area (such as Hong Kong and Macau). Four entries are currently eligible to score points at all six events.
It's hoped this classification will, in time, inspire more Chinese drivers and teams to compete, just as the Fanatec Japan Cup has in its native country. 13 GT3s and four GT4s are currently eligible for that classification.
The latter’s success will also see Japan’s national sports broadcaster, J Sports, continue airing live coverage of all six Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia events this year.
Benjamin Franassovici, Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS General Manager: “2023 promises to be the biggest season in Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS history thanks to an influx of new cars, teams and drivers. It’s a far cry from the situation at the same time last year when just eight cars raced at Sepang. However, despite that low number, the event was a critical moment in the championship’s history as it proved to potential entrants that Asia’s biggest continental GT series had re-opened for business. This year’s entry list is the culmination of what followed in the months after Sepang via the very successful introduction of Fanatec Japan Cup and easing of the region’s travel restrictions.
“We are not resting on our laurels, though. GT4 remains under-represented and that’s something we are looking to address later this year.
“But, as a whole, the series has never been stronger. Having 12 manufacturers on the same grid is truly remarkable in modern GT3 racing, and I am particularly pleased to see Chinese teams and drivers returning.”
The entry list for Chang International Circuit’s season opener will be confirmed next week.