SRO Motorsports America has ruled out a return to Long Beach for its GT3 machinery due to the global World Challenge schedule.
The April 17-19 event, which played host to Pirelli GT4 America Sprint competitors only this year, will not see a round of Blancpain GT World Challenge America, despite an active effort to bring the series back, according to SRO America President and CEO Greg Gill.
Sportscar365 understands that initial logistical challenges, such as fitting a potential 90-minute race into the weekend schedule complete with a full pit lane setup and refueling equipment, had been solved.
However, a new-for-2020 rule within SRO prohibiting two World Challenge events occurring on the same weekend has prevented SRO America’s top series from returning to the iconic southern California street circuit.
The Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe season-opening round at Monza occurs the same weekend as Long Beach, as part of the global 23-round season that does not produce a single clash.
“Certainly Long Beach is near and dear to my heart; we all we want to see it happen,” Gill told Sportscar365.
“I honestly, and originally, envisioned being able to take GT3 back there, but we have Monza that weekend. It just wasn’t even an option.
“In times’ past we’d say, ‘Oh, we’ve only got one conflict.’ But now, no conflicts, not gonna happen.”
While personally disappointed, Gill has praised SRO Motorsports Group founder and CEO Stephane Ratel’s vision of of having a global schedule without a single date clash.
“We have to give the SRO and Stephane an incredible credit,” Gill said.
“It really came down, as a rule, this year, that we would not have this. This is our goal to give the consumer, the manufacturer and the customer the opportunity to not have a conflict or have to choose.”
Gill, instead, has indicated that GT4 America could again run at Long Beach.
A total of three TBAs are currently on the provisional GT4 America schedule, which Gill said remains fluid and with the priority of aligning the remaining dates on IndyCar weekends.
“I’ve called promoters and have a conversation and I’ve informed that that our goal [at Spa], first and foremost, [was to release] the GT World Challenge schedule,” he said.
“We certainly want to, as Stephane noted, do more with the IndyCar-based events. We want to be out there.
“There’s some things that we’re looking at with Touring Car where, if we can create in the same way that we have these GT World Challenge weekends that are really cool and fun where it’s a special feeling for the customers and we can do it with GT4 and TC and other support series, then we might be on our own.
“But I think first and foremost, as we’ve talked about before, we want to work closer with IndyCar.
“We’ve had a great partnership, and now, frankly, going back to Indy and racing at the Speedway, all the more reason to work closely with IndyCar.”
2019 Las Vegas Event Potentially Not One-Off
While not currently on the 2020 calendar, Gill admitted Las Vegas Motor Speedway could find a place on the SRO America schedule next year.
Officially confirmed last month, the SMI-owned facility will play host to this year’s season finale, culminating with SRO’s worldwide awards night at the Bellagio on Oct. 20.
“As Stephane noted, we’re homologating a track, we’re doing events, we want to have a long term relationship with the track,” Gill said about Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“I would say everything is on the table right now. The calendar for 2020 is not complete.”
The only potential opening in the GT America schedule could be the Circuit of The Americas slot, which is listed as a March/April date.
Gill said they have a date for COTA “ready to go” but are waiting to see if there is a more “optimum” date before confirming it as the 2020 season-opener.
“Heaven forbid I would have to take COTA off of the start of the season and start the season at Las Vegas, that’s an example [of Vegas slotting in],” he said.
“But on the same token we’re going to do what is in the best interest of the customers. That’s what we focus on.”