Pirelli World Challenge will feature five Sprint and five SprintX weekends, with a full nine-round standalone GTS Sprint championship, following the finalization of its race format for next year.
WC Vision President and CEO Greg Gill confirmed to Sportscar365 its 2017 format, which moves away from its traditional Sprint-only format and adds standalone SprintX rounds to complete a ten-weekend calendar.
“We’ve had many months of planning to discuss it and get the feedback from all the stakeholders,” Gill told Sportscar365. “It’s been a long process to get everyone’s feedback… The format is now fixed.”
A pair of 50-minute Sprint races for GT/GTA/GT Cup will be held at St. Petersburg, Road America, Mid-Ohio and Sonoma Raceway, all on IndyCar weekends, along with a single GT/GTA race at Long Beach in April.
SprintX, meanwhile, will take place at Virginia International Raceway, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Lime Rock Park, Utah Motorsports Campus and Circuit of The Americas, with two 60-minute races featuring pit stops and driver changes.
It will be eligible for GT3, GTS/GT4 and GT Cup machinery with the top class separated into Pro, Pro-Am and Am categories. There will be no minimum pit stop time for the Pro class, with Pro-Am and Am mandated to 60-second pit stops, with tire changes optional.
GTS/GT4, meanwhile, will maintain its standalone Sprint format at all events except Long Beach, in a move Gill said was prompted by competitor feedback.
“When we sat down with the GTS teams in Utah, they specifically said they like SprintX but they didn’t want it to take away from the Sprint format,” he said.
“They said, ‘Keep us with nine Sprint weekends but let GTS/GT4 be part of SprintX for those of us who don’t mind a crowded weekend.’ So we’ve honored that request.”
GT Cup, meanwhile, will expand to include eligibility for the Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo and Ferrari Challenge cars, in both Sprint and SprintX, joining the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars, which has been exclusive to the class since its launch in 2015.
“We had some Lamborghinis join us in GT Cup at Laguna and that was well-received,” Gill said. “We’ve already got teams signed up for next year.
“We’ve made the decision to continue [GT Cup] with the addition of additional cup cars. That was the original intention, so it’s not a surprise. It’s just a reflection of what we thought it would [eventually] be.”
Seperate champions will be awarded for Sprint and SprintX, with drivers, teams and manufacturers competing in all 19 GT/GTA and 18 GT Cup races will be named the overall champions.
WC Vision will hold its annual “State of the Series” address to competitors at next month’s PRI Show in Indianapolis.
2017 Pirelli World Challenge Schedule:
Mar. 10-12 – St. Petersburg (Sprint)
Apr. 7-9 – Long Beach (Sprint – GT/GTA Only)
Apr. 28-30 – Virginia International Raceway (SprintX)
May 19-21 – Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (SprintX)
May 26-27 – Lime Rock Park (SprintX)
June 23-25 – Road America (Sprint)
July 28-30 – Mid Ohio (Sprint)
Aug. 11-13 – Utah Motorsports Campus (SprintX)
Sept. 1-3 – Circuit of The Americas (SprintX)
Sept. 15-17 – Sonoma Raceway (Sprint)
Oct. 13-15 – Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (Intercontinental GT Challenge)