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?