IMSA Announces 2023 Esports Global Championship Entry List
Virtual IMSA racing is about to shift into high gear once again with the second annual IMSA Esports Global Championship’s four-race season kicking off this weekend.
Over four weekends in November and December, many of the top professional sim drivers and teams, as well as a handful of real-life racing pros, will compete at four of IMSA’s top virtual tracks in the U.S. The Esports Global Championship is a collaboration between sim racing leader iRacing, Michelin and Virtual Competition Organisation (VCO), which conducts sim competitions around the globe.
Like last year’s inaugural edition of the Esports Global Championship, the 2023 version will feature multi-class, multi-driver racing with two classes of race cars. Excitement for this year is pulsating since the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class will make its debut in the virtual championship featuring all four manufacturers of the hybrid-electrified cars that competed in this year’s landmark IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.
The iRacing GTP versions of the Acura ARX-06, BMW M Hybrid V8, Cadillac V-Series.R and Porsche 963 will all do battle on track alongside GT Daytona (GTD) entries from BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Mercedes-AMG and Porsche.
“After a tremendous debut season last year, the 2023 IMSA Esports Global Championship promises even more intense competition,” said IMSA President John Doonan. “The addition of the GTP class to race with the GTD cars, through the fine collaboration of iRacing and VCO, will make it some of the most realistic and exciting virtual racing anywhere. Once again, the Esports Global Championship has attracted some of the world’s top sim teams and drivers, and we’re expecting nothing less than four great, entertaining races ahead.”
Indeed, top sim teams and drivers have entered to compete for cash prizes totaling $25,000. A full field of 45 cars – 20 in GTP and 25 in GTD – is expected for Sunday’s opener at the virtual Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
In the GTP class, Acura will be represented by CrowdStrike Racing – which is partnering with Mivano Simracing for a second year to enter two Acura ARX-06s – and four-time British Touring Car champion Ash Sutton’s sim racing team, Puresims Esports.
BMW’s official sim racing teams, BMW M Team Redline and BMW M Team BS+COMPETITION, will race in BMW M Hybrid V8s, as will Apex Racing Team, URANO eSports Datagroup and Williams Esports MAHLE.
Cadillac pins its hopes on 2022 eNASCAR champion Casey Kirwan and Owen Caryl in the Xset V-Series.R, along with Tommy Milner’s sim racing team, PRIVATE Label Team Hype.
Porsche factory drivers and current DTM touring car teammates Laurin Heinrich and Ayhancan Güven, who contributed to a Porsche Coanda Esports Championship win in the 2022-2023 Le Mans Virtual Series, will each enter a Porsche 963 as part of the VRS Coanda team.
In the GTD class, the BMW M4 GT3, Lamborghini Huracán GT3 and Mercedes-AMG GT3 all return from the 2022 Esports Global Championship and will be joined by the new Ferrari 296 GT3 and Porsche 911 GT3 R (992).
Apex Racing Team, which won the 2022 IMSA Esports GTD championship running Porsches, has switched to align with Mercedes to defend its championship. The Mercedes-AMG Apex Racing Team will do so alongside fellow Mercedes stablemates, Mercedes-AMG Team URANO and Mercedes-AMG Williams Esports. The new generation of Porsche’s 911 GT3 R will be unleashed with the 2023 Porsche Esports Supercup champion Jordan Caruso leading the charge for Altus Esports, with Dörr Esports, Simufy Esports, Team75 Bernhard by SimRC and VRS Coanda also fielding 911s.
BS+TURNER is back with its split-liveried BMW that’s based off the real-racing BMW that Turner Motorsport ran at Sebring this year in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge. The Apex Racing Team also enters a BMW that pairs 2022 British F4 champion Alex Dunne alongside Salva Talens. The brand-new Ferrari 296 GT3 will see one of sim racing’s most recognizable teams, Team Redline, enter two cars. Grid-and-Go.com eSports will field a Lamborghini Huracán alongside the likes of Maniti Racing and Brabham Esports.
“Looking through the entry list, it’s hard to pick a favorite in either class,” said Arjuna Kankipati, series director and lead commentator. “We saw the Apex Racing Team dominate in the GTD class in 2022. I don’t think anyone is expecting it to be so simple this year. With the introduction of the GTPs, it’s almost a requirement for drivers to now be even more daring yet precise in traffic, and it’s going to make for a wild four races up and down the grid.”
Each of the four races will start at 2 p.m. ET and run the standard length of two hours, 40 minutes. All races will stream on IMSA’s and iRacing’s YouTube, Facebook and Twitch social media channels with “Countdown to Green” beginning at 1:45 p.m. The schedule is as follows:
- Sunday, Nov. 5: Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta
- Sunday, Nov. 12: Watkins Glen International
- Sunday, Dec. 3: Sebring International Raceway
- Saturday, Dec. 16: Daytona International Speedway
The entry list is HERE