With the arrival of FIA GT3-spec machinery, added manufacturer interest and increased Internet viewership, the Pirelli World Challenge has been through a significant transformation over the last 18 months.
The resurgent sprint race championship, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, has continued to gain traction under the leadership of WC Vision President and CEO Scott Bove, who has helped take the series to new heights.
A racer in his own right, Bove helped usher in the new era of GT3 cars in North America, which has in turn delivered a significant international following, not to mention the arrival of a number of new teams and drivers.
Sportscar365 caught up with Bove during this weekend’s double-header round at Mid-Ohio to get his thoughts on the state of the series and his short and long-term goals for the World Challenge platform.
What was the motivation for adopting FIA GT3 cars in the series?
“The reasoning for it is quite simple. The amount of teams that are building GT cars from scratch are few and far between. That led us looking at the factory built GT3 platform and something we could build on.
“I’m probably more pleased with the manufacturers who are presenting customer-based programs, teams like GMG and others that also have customer cars.
“The real easy way for the ‘average millionaire’ to be racing is to get a GT3 car. It’s pretty straightforward.”
Is there a philosophy behind the championship’s Balance of Performance?
“The balance is relatively simple as it’s done on several different levels, whether it’s through the FIA or SRO. We have our own balance at WC Vision/Pirelli World Challenge, which is similar but different.
“Balancing the GT3 field is relatively easy. Balancing other cars against it is relatively challenging because they’re better in certain areas. The GT3 cars have more downforce. The Pirelli World Challenge platform typically has more straight-line acceleration.
“I think we’re very close. Balancing a car’s performance is almost impossible, if you think about front-engined, 8 cylinders; mid-engined 6 cylinders; rear-engined 6 cylinders; turbocharged, all-wheel drive, supercharged, etc.
“Getting it within a half-second or seven-tenths of a second is probably the best one can ask for.”
Do you see the GT class eventually becoming entirely FIA GT3-spec?
“We’re primarily GT3 at the moment but we still have residual platforms that are working their way out.
“We have the Cadillac, which I don’t know the future of their platform. We spent a lot of time balancing that car to the rest of the GT3 field.”
What benefits are there with sharing weekends with IndyCar?
“Us being a part of IndyCar weekends is by choice. We are friends with them and have great relationships with all of the managing staff.
“We’re here because they want us here and we enhance the show. We want to be here because we know there will be 100,000 fans and we don’t have to be involved in promoting the race and selling tickets.
“We share TV with IndyCar and the expenses with a lot of our partners. It becomes easy for us to have a stand-up, awesome weekend and have relatively low costs for teams.”
Is there interest to have more standalone weekends in the future?
“We do have an interest in having our own weekends but it’s not as high of a priority for us as others seem to think it is for us.
“There’s a lot of weekends of racing we can fit well with but that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to have our own events.
“We have an event at Miller Motorsports Park we are co-sponsoring with NASCAR. We were at Road America with NASCAR.
“Part of the benefit of Pirelli World Challenge is that we keep the cost of racing, at this high level, relatively low.”
Where do you see the championship in five years?
“I believe we have the opportunity to be the very best sprint race format series in the world.
“Our TV package is second-to-none. The production of our TV is second-to-none. We have a huge following on the Internet and I believe we can top 100,000 viewers on the Internet.
“I also see us continuing to have a relationship with IndyCar and nothing changing, except for maybe having a couple [more] events on our own.”