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Watkins Glen Weekend Notebook

Ryan Myrehn’s weekend notebook from Watkins Glen International…

Photo: Brian Cleary/SRO America

***Series stakeholders were given a glimpse into the future of SRO Motorsports America during State of the Series presentations on Friday at Watkins Glen International for the GT3, GT4, and Touring Car paddocks.

***The return of the 90-minute Blancpain GT World Challenge America race format that debuted this season was confirmed for 2020, along with the pit stop procedures that are currently in place.

***Series officials noted the growth of the GT3 class, which expanded from ten cars at Watkins Glen a year ago to 17 this year and has averaged 20 entries per race so far this season, and expressed confidence of having 20 or more cars on the grid regularly next season.

***Additionally, the GT Paddock Club hospitality unit, which will appear at a total of five events in 2019, will be at every World Challenge America round next year.

***The GT4 paddock will see the continuation of both the traditional Sprint format as well as the two-driver SprintX format for 2020, with the succesful Sprint series unlikely to see major changes from year to year.

***The GT4 SprintX series, however, will have a different look and feel in 2020 with a new class structure and the previously-revealed elimination of the East and West sub-series.

***Three classes will be utilized in 2020, replacing the Pro-Am and Am distinctions in use this season. Those classes will be Pro for either Gold-Gold or Gold-Silver driver pairings, Pro-Am for Silver-Silver or Gold-Bronze combinations, and Am for Bronze-Bronze lineups.

***Nine SprintX rounds were confirmed for the upcoming schedule while the Sprint calendar remains under evaluation. It is understood that Sprint paddock is likely to be present at at least the seven rounds that are due to run in conjunction with World Challenge America, while it is believed that the standalone races at St. Petersburg and Long Beach are still under consideration, which would join their SprintX counterparts.

***The decision to add tire warmers, as well as an additional set of new Pirelli tires per weekend, to the remaining World Challenge America races this season was voted forward unanimously by the teams in a survey that was distributed shortly after the Sonoma round in July. The move brings the SRO America rulebook into closer alignment with its European and Asian counterparts, a stated goal of the the sanctioning body.

***Starting this weekend, the tire ovens must be placed along back fence with the fire lane separating them from the pit stall. Tires must be carried uncovered to the other side, including on the grid before the start of the race. Prior to the start, tires must be affixed to the cars five minutes before the cars are scheduled to leave teh grid and the cars must be lowered off their jacks and onto the ground two minutes later.

***It was revealed that both World Challenge America races at the Las Vegas finale will be held on Saturday with the final race of the season to be held under the lights. The SRO’s global championship banquet, with representation from the sanctioning body’s series from around the world, will take place following track activity on the evening of Sunday, October 20th at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

***Several delegations of officials from various sanctioning bodies are on site this weekend at Watkins Glen, including Total 24 Hours of Spa General Manager Laurent Gaudin and SRO Motorsports Group COO Patricia Kiefer.

***Additionally, multiple Canadian Touring Car Championship officials on site and are embedded with SRO America staff for the weekend.

***Peter Daly is serving as the race director for the GT4 and Touring Car races at Watkins Glen. Daly serves in the same role for the British GT championship along with other European series.

***The K2R team has been forced to pack up early following weekend-ending crashes for both their GT3 and GT4 entries. The team was scheduled to have drivers Kevan Millstein and Alex Barron pilot their Porsche 911 GT3 R in World Challenge America, while Millstein was set to drive solo in a Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport in GT4 America Sprint competition.

***Michael Cooper overcame a turbo issue in his Blackdog Speed Shop McLaren that cost him nearly all of Thursday’s test day to set the fastest time in GT4 America Practice 2 on Friday after a late night of repairs by the team.

***Twelve Saleen Cup entries are set to take the green flag for the series’ second race weekend, although the format of the races undergone several changes since the debut round at Portland International Raceway in July. Most notably, the races will now be a single-driver format, however the two-minute mandatory pit stop has been retained. The races will be streamed on the SRO Youtube channel.

***Guy Cosmo, who is racing for NOLASPORT this weekend alongside Patrick Byrne in GT4 America competition, was drafted in by the Saleen Cup officials to help test their tires over a race distance during the series’ scheduled testing time on Thursday.

***For Byrne, this marks the first trip to WGI since he tested at the track in 2014. He has never before raced at the upstate New York circuit.

***Byrne acknowledged that he and Cosmo are examining their options for a 2020 racing program, which includes racing in SRO America competition as well as potential programs in IMSA, the Asian Le Mans Series, or elsewhere.

***McCann Racing has entered an Audi R8 LMS GT4 for Michael McCann Jr. this weekend for the GT4 America Sprint series and anticipates contesting the remaining races on the 2019 calendar. It comes in addition to McCann’s TCR commitments with the family-run team.

***Michael McCann Sr. told Sportscar365 that full time step up to GT4 next year is likely, with the Sprint series being the most attractive. Continuation of the team’s TCR program is at least in part contingent upon finding customer programs.

***KRUGSPEED has made the switch from Ginetta machinery to a McLaren 570S GT4 for drivers Anthony Geraci and Elivan Goulart starting this weekend at Watkins Glen.

Ryan Myrehn is an Indianapolis-based journalist and sportscaster, covering IMSA and Pirelli World Challenge. Myrehn, a graduate of DePauw University, is also the host of Sportscar365's “Double Stint” Podcast.

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