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SPORTSCAR365: Top 10 Stories to Watch in 2018

In its final Top 10, Sportscar365 looks at the key storylines to watch in 2018…

Photo: Toyota

As the year draws to a close, following multiple Top 10 reviews, Sportscar365 looks ahead to what could be in store for 2018 with a look at the Top 10 Stories to Watch:

10. Future of FIA GT World Cup — Following three consecutive incident-filled races in as many years, what will the future hold for the FIA GT World Cup in Macau? While plans are understood to be in place to return to the Guia Circuit in 2018, there appears to be a push from some manufacturers to re-locate the event. Meanwhile, will the SRO’s proposed “GT3 Cup of Nations” event, planned for Sochi in October, get the green light?

9. Blancpain GT’s Pro-Am Future — Can the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup still put on a show despite a heavier focus on Pro-Am and Am lineups? A limit of 26 all-pro lineups will be enforced in the four regular-season races, excluding the Total 24 Hours of Spa, in an effort to bring the championship back to its roots.

8. PWC in Flux –– With the debut of the SprintX format for the GTS class, and long-awaited debut of full-service pit stops, how will fans and competitors react to a further evolution in Pirelli World Challenge? Will the sprint race championship be able to bounce back following the withdrawal of Cadillac, and several other GT teams? How much will the GTS class grow and will a larger focus on standalone, headline events further strengthen the series?

7. TCR’s Launch in North America — With its full integration into the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and PWC, will the emerging TCR platform take off in North America? Early projections show modest grids, although nearly all comprised of the new Audi RS 3 LMS. Will additional U.S.-based manufacturers join the fray?

6. GT Harmonization Talks – Some four years after GT Convergence talks broke down, will the FIA move forward with its GT Harmonization plans? If so, when will it take effect and how could it impact the current crop of GTE and GT3 cars across the globe?

5. Penske, Joest’s Challenge to Cadillac — Can IMSA newcomers Penske and Joest mount a challenge to this year’ all-dominant Cadillac DPi effort? Will the updated Multimatic-developed Mazda RT24-P show a turnaround in fortunes and how will the new ORECA-based Acura ARX-05 fare against the competition?

4. Future of GTE — How will BMW’s new M8 GTE fare in the already highly competitive landscape of GTE racing? Will any new manufacturers, such as Lamborghini and McLaren, formally commit to enter the factory-backed platform?

3. Rise of GT4 — With cars having debuted in the last 12 months from Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Ford and Mercedes-AMG, how will the shape of GT4 evolve? Will the forecasted rapid growth, particularly in Europe and North America, affect the success of GT3?

2. IMSA’s Growth — Will the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship continue its growth period following a breakout debut season for DPi and new-for-2017 LMP2 machinery? Will any additional manufacturers announce future DPi programs? What does the future of the GT Daytona class stand, amid rising costs and depleted full-season entrants?

1.  WEC’s Future — Following wholesale changes on the horizon, including an evolution to a winter calendar, a consolidated LMP1 class amid Porsche’s exit, and continued talks for a new set of LMP1 regulations for 2020, what is the future of the FIA World Endurance Championship? Will more privateers in the top prototype class make LMP1 more exciting? Will there be any additional chassis variety in LMP2 and will the ‘Super Season’ sustain interest? Additionally, will the 1500 miles of Sebring go ahead as planned in 2019 or will there be format changes?

The latest news, photos and video features from the trusted Sportscar365 web staff.

18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Haskellb

    December 31, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    6. Would be nice, but I am pretty sure someone (cough, cough, ACO, clears throat) will screw it up.

    5. These people don’t come to the track to try and podium.

    2. I hope so. This year was the best season I have seen in years. The prototype field is the largest it has been in over a decade. I wish there was the money to add a couple of more races to the season. But, I think if they can’t bring down cost in GTD it is going to bite them sooner or later.

    1. The Midnight race at Sebring is a stupid publicity stunt with WEC trying to leach off of IMSA and I hope someone pulls their head out of their tailpipe and cancels it. Like most people I only care about the 24 at La Sarthe when it comes to the WEC.

    • Tim

      January 1, 2018 at 10:31 am

      Well considering I was planning on buying the 2019 Tickets as soon as I see them available they better not cancel the WEC race!!

      You will have every LMP1, DPi, GTE factory car plus all the top LMP2s. Not to mention a high likely hood of one offs for the “36hrs of Florida” it’s the closest we will get to Lemans state side and a far better track then COTA and I actually like the idea of WEC doing the 12 at night.

    • Steven

      January 1, 2018 at 5:51 pm

      Can’t see why a racing fan would complain about having 2, 12 hour races in a single weekend to be a bad thing. I’m thinking of planning on going to Sebring in 2019 for that weekend because that would be one hellva weekend.

    • Change it up

      January 2, 2018 at 8:04 am

      yeah man, not sure why you are complaining about this. As Tim mentioned, every single top sports car will be in one place for one event. I plan on traveling from Rhode Island to Sebring because of the amount of content that will be available for spectating. I’ve been making one trip to Florida for the 36hr NAEC and Daytona makes much better sense since it’s always double the length of Sebring. Now I have the excuse to go to Sebring.

  2. Barber

    December 31, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    Are GTE cars still technically allowed at the Nurburgring 24? I know BMW and Porsche and even Ferrari raced their GTE car there.

    • Tracklimits

      January 1, 2018 at 2:19 am

      No they aren´t and no they didn´t. It alwasy was a GT3 Festival. The classes may named different at the VLN but it remains GT3.

      • Barber

        January 1, 2018 at 3:52 am

        2010 and 2011 was won by a GT2/ GTE car. BMW won with the M3 GT2 and Porsche won several times with the RSR. The last time they raced the RSR was in 2013.

        • Cedric

          January 1, 2018 at 11:50 am

          Barber that is correct. The GT2 Viper ran there and won. There was also a DTM that ran the 24 and I believe they won as well but don’t hold me to that.

          • Anthony Thomas

            January 1, 2018 at 5:25 pm

            Zakspeed Viper won a few times actually. Opel showed up with a DTM car and won (found in Grand Turismo).

            GT2/GTLM cars are allowed but the GT3 cars generate their track speed doesn’t give them a major advantage despite their improved aerodynamics.

            GTD cars are detuned on purpose…

  3. jason

    December 31, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    10. Maybe they like getting huge youtube view numbers due to the crashes!
    9. Stefan Ratel wil find ways to keep the numbers up. He is the master of all things.
    8. No interest in PWC anymore.
    7. Not interested in TCR
    6. I think the bigger issue is WEC with GT inspired LMP cars. Ferrari 488 is convertable between E and 3 already.
    5. Will Penske and Joest win races in 2018. Heck yeah.
    4. GTE/GTLM will be great and fine for 2018 and 2019. After that depends on #6 above.
    3. Have not been interested before but the new Mercedes and Audi might just change that. Especially the Cosmo/Trinkler pairing in CTSCC.
    2. Agree with GTD decline being concerning. I’ve brought up ideas before to help out a tad in 2018 at least. After that is another discussion.
    1. Just five races in WEC in 2018. Don’t mind it. Gives IMSA a higher profile now.

    • Anthony Thomas

      January 1, 2018 at 5:41 pm

      PWC has been low on the radar already in America and further down on the priority list behind a paywall on Motortrend TV. It can’t go any lower so I guess the recent moves believes they will generate some interest.

      GTD decline is a product of the somewhat rigid and farcical driver rating system and IMSA apprehension to allowing factories to run cars against people like John Potter.

      Ratel is right in that Sportscar Racing has too often been left in the wake of OE’s making management decisions that no longer fit their racing profile. VAG’s dieselgate is a perfect example in recent history and it has reverberated throughout motorsports.

      That said, there needs to be a balance struck. I don’t think fans are all that interested in seeing the 1% get trophies. But I also understand to have a 30 pro class cars sounds good until say US car sales go into the tank.

      They would be left with mainly a small Pro Am class which we can say is like a winter and then wait until the factories are interested again. However history never repeats itself the exact same way as before. Once the factories leave this time, there will be no prototypes and if you want to race you’ll have to buy their car. They’ll enforce it by claiming some sort of intellectual property.

      You’ll be left with mainly GT3 and GT4 racing and I’m not joking. Some of the best racing is in Blancpain so I don’t understand why that’s a PROBLEM for prototype lovers….

  4. Mike S

    December 31, 2017 at 3:29 pm

    Should keep this list to reflect on a year from now. But sportscars 365 does. Happy New year!

  5. Anonymous

    January 1, 2018 at 5:20 am

    I don’t know much about these GT Harmonisation Talks but given recent comments made by Aston Martin about wanting to do something more than just sell its Valkyrie Hyper Car. Would these talks include the re-introduction of a GT1 class for Hyper Cars?

  6. Sol Shine

    January 1, 2018 at 10:17 am

    I think TCR is a huge mistake on this side of the pond. There is now no “pro” (I use the term loosely, given the ride buyer domination of racing these days) series where a handy team can build their own car and possibly compensate for a lack of money with skill and ingenuity. That is seriously a shame, those people have long been innovators and allowing them no venue is a mistake. PWC is just foundering now, it’s just some kind of clown show trying to be all things to all people and it’s a total fail.

    • Matt

      January 2, 2018 at 5:57 pm

      I agree on TCR. All the series’ had to do was keep costs in check on showroom stock cars. TCR is not the correct solution. Mandated FWD, and all cars running basically the same engine with no diversity is boring. North America still has the Canadian Touring Car Championship for people who want to build their own car, which, unfortunately, is adopting TCR into one of its classes as well.
      PWC is a mess under the inconsistency of Greg Gill. The guy needs to be shown the door and the series must return to the sprint championship that was a huge success only a few years ago. I love making the drive up to Mosport each May to see PWC with the CTCC, but I’m not sure the entry list in PWC will be good enough this year to be worth the drive.

  7. David Chaste

    January 1, 2018 at 3:34 pm

    Whether Toyota will finally win lemans is a bigger story than item 10 through 6.

    The biggest race for the biggest car manufacturer.

    Imsa’s prototype class vs the fia wec’s P1 class in sheer entertainment factor will be a story too.

    • Harry Manback

      January 2, 2018 at 11:44 am

      It’s going to be embarrassing for Toyota either way. To prove my point below, imagine Toyota as 18 year olds, the balance of LMP-1 as 12 year olds, and they are playing a game of football.

      Best Case: Toyota does win this year. The 18 year olds beat the 12 year olds? Is that really something to be proud of / brag about?

      Worst Case: Toyota still somehow manages to not win…. I don’t think I need to elaborate on that.

  8. blaneysellstrashbags@thering24

    January 2, 2018 at 4:38 pm

    Why are a few people complaining about the Sebring format. If ya dont wanna watch the WEC race go home at 2200 hrs and let the real race fans enjoy the overnight race. I do believe though that this event might be a one off and never happen in this format again.

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